Paving Your Path to Product Management with Salesforce

This week, Product School hosted  Poorvi Shrivastav, Sr Director of Product at Salesforce, for a special #AskMeAnything session. Poorvi answered questions on prioritization, transitioning into product, and paving your path.

Meet Poorvi

Poorvi currently leads multiple products for the service business at Salesforce. She is a Microsoft Veteran having worn multiple hats including product, engineering, business analyst, and support operations for various teams and products. Today, she is an advisor to a couple of B2C startups in the Indian subcontinent and regularly publishes her product ideas on LinkedIn. She holds an MBA from Wharton and a computer science engineering degree.

How do you manage thousands of feature requests across multiple product lines and keep a view of what customers want?

We use Ideaexchange where customer log their requests. Also, we source feature requests through direct customer conversations. For prioritization, I use the ‘Neutralize, Optimize and Differentiate’ framework where each request is tagged with either driving our core metrics like customer satisfaction for ward or generates revenue.

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How can one transition from a technical manager role to a product manager role?

I’d look for three things:

  1. Getting a hands-on practice in your current job or with a smaller startup on PM responsibilities and work methodology
  2. Educate yourself (like through Product School)
  3. And if there is an opportunity to assist/ shadow a PM in your current role (that’s how I transitioned years ago)

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When hiring, what do you look for in someone that is looking to become a Product Manager or get into Product Management?

For Individual contributors

  1. Analytical skills (problem-solving, design.. etc.)
  2. Communication (Clarity, concise and consistency) and
  3. leadership (comfort with ambiguity, coaching, etc.)

As a new grad making a transition into PM roles, how would you suggest we prepare for B2B companies such as Salesforce in comparison to B2C? 

I don’t think interviews are different but there is a larger focus on

  1. Navigating process in bigger companies to optimize for speed to market
  2. Clear communication to align with multiple stakeholders
  3. Past success and experience with large-scale products in any role.

How is a potential new service sold internally? Is there some sort of TAM/SAM/SOM approach to pre-validate the idea?

I assume you mean how do we pitch a new business idea. So yes, TAM is a big factor but the basic approach is

  1. Why us and Why now
  2. How do we get there (Build, Buy, Partner)
  3. What do we do in order to get there

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For practicing Product Managers, what would be your suggestion to develop more holistically to help avoid tunnel vision? 

There is an external and an internal component to this

  1. Externally – keep updated about your industry, attend webinars and events so you know about the innovations in the space
  2. Inside the company – set up regular interactions with your peer product managers in other groups.

A large part of product management as you scale and grow is able to form cross-functional solutions and think more broadly outside of your product area.

tunnel vision

How does #myTrailhead self-paced training tie into preparing for real employment opportunities in the product space?

myTrailhead is mostly used by customers in the context of their business or education about processes and products (like we do for Salesforce). We do have trailhead which is a great platform to learn about general product expertise and the Salesforce ecosystem as well.

What areas of your experience would you emphasize for a senior product leadership role?

  1. Relentless focus on customers
  2. Strategic knowledge of the entire product ecosystem and not only own area
  3. Being an absolute expert in my area
  4. Covering any knowledge gaps with a strong team who are high performing and growth-oriented

Does salesforce utilize any roles, teams, or resources to maintain a cogent dialogue between PM, Sales, Marketing, etc.?

Yes, we very much drive alignment between all those functions specifically for

  1. Driving messaging and positioning about a product
  2. Relaying customer feedback and iterating on product-market fit… I think solution engineering and outbound product management acts as a perfect bridge between sales and product.

I’ve managed bank credit card and loyalty products from proposition to fulfillment to digital experience.  How could I  link this to a role of a product manager of Salesforce to show similarities?

Some areas of interest might be 1) Commerce 2) Sales and I’d hone in one managing an end to end back office lifecycle of a product

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