How Does the Product Role Change Between Firms by Zuora’s PM

Enterprise Product Management is different from Consumer Product Management because the former is B2B and the latter is B2C. The Product Agility, Competition, and Biased Customer Insights make Enterprise Product Management more challenging.

Learn how to effectively sell products to consumers and enterprises.

Meet Olexandr Prokhorenko

Olexandr ProkhorenkoOlexandr Prokhorenko is CEO of Rapidus Delivery. He was Director of Product at Zuora in 2018. He moved from Engineering to Management and built companies in the Telecom and B2C industries. He has gained subject domain expertise in PM, has taken ownership over end-customer facing assets, and also assumed a technical, inbound role at the organization.

Product Role Differences in the B2B Product Management

  • Inbound and Outbound

    • The INBOUND properties of a product are Product Impact, Quality, Usability, Adoption, Supportability, Delivery, Backlog, and Velocity.
    • The OUTBOUND properties of a product are Market Research, Positioning, Packaging, Launch, Revenue, Product Direction, Field Enablement, Analysts.
  • Product Agility

    • Expensive to release (eg. less of iterative, testing-based development > more of getting things “right” and as close to the requirements because the cost of a new release is heavily taxed for enterprise).
    • Multistep adoption (eg. Business Processes > Integrations > Migrations > Enablement > Compliance).
    • Long time to kill (eg. Support (different tracks for support contracts) > Migrations > Expansion (per and post-EOL) > Renewals > Platform- as-a-Service > Field Alignment).

people office

  • Productization vs Customization

    • Professional Services is a necessary evil.
    • Excess product customization leads to burnout.
    • Customization culture is damaging for product features targeting larger markets.
  • Limited Access to the Front Line

    • Your product penetrates multiple user personas (Sponsor, Buyer, User, Champion, Reviewer, etc.) for a single account. You, as a PM, are “shielded” from customer interfacing with multiple layers of “relationship and communication facilitation” managers, and subject to a bias in user study and gathering requirements process.
  • Build Product but Sell Vision

    • Efforts: How to Build > What to Build.
    • Result: Great Technology < Vision of the Future.

Vision and best practices are what the customers buy. So sell, Vision.

  • Monetization (Is Real)

    • Pricing is high.
    • Sensitive indirect monetization (can’t “sell your customer” without consent!).
    • Pricing and packaging can be complex.
    • Biased Customer Insights
      • Limited opportunities to collect customer insights.
      • Data bias exists i.e. millions of signals vs a handful of data points from your customers.
  • Heavy on Stakeholder Management

    • Build relationships by exchanging information, set expectations, share culture.
    • Over-communicate.
    • Align with cross-functional teams’ agendas.
    • Be present all the way through your product lifecycle.
  • Competition

    • It is harder to get hands-on with the competitor’s product.
    • Befriend market research firms: Gartner, Forrester, MGI. Magic Quadrant: the Good (common denominator), the Bad (black box, under representment), and the Evil (bias towards investors, rather than buyers).

girl rail

  • Tolerance to Ambiguity

      • Ambiguity is a “doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention”. You are expected to:
          • Effectively cope with change. Shift gears and correct course.
          • Make a decision without having the total picture.
          • Comfortably handle risk and uncertainty.
  • “NO” has Its Price

    • “Listen, listen, understand, know”, before rejecting anything.
    • Don’t play the zero-sum game.
    • Don’t fall into tailor-made product features.
    • Demonstrate the value without disruption of the product roadmap.
    • Be systematic and transparent in your decision making.

Be wary of the real price of rejection and temptation to avoid rejection.

  • A Life Thereafter What’s next?

      • Exposure to a larger set of inefficiencies = product validation and market fit.
        • Network building to team up vs. build something the user wants and they will come.
        • Harder to enter markets and opportunities.
        • Hiring bias: Enterprise vs Consumer.


    1. CONSUMER vs ENTERPRISE: WHOM DO YOU SELL? Consumer PM builds a product to be bought and used by a user. Enterprise PM builds a product to be bought by a buyer and used by a user. Hint: sell to both (BOGO!).
    2. CONSUMER vs ENTERPRISE: WHAT DO YOU SELL? Do not build enterprise products using consumer playbook. The job of a great enterprise product is to follow “the rule of lazy” thus to enable marketplaces and grow the ecosystem, but don’t build everything yourself. Avoid expensing your understanding of market dynamics in favor of the “end customer” user research.
    3. CONSUMER vs ENTERPRISE: HOW DO YOU BUILD? Don’t get excited with agile too fast. Agile’s short-term focus can make it very difficult for the Field teams to align and close that next multiphase and multi-year deal or key strategic partnership. Holistic and hybrid approach wins: long-term plan and vision for strategic planning; and culture of flexibility and agility in the details and tactical approach.

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