Product Managers need to stay in close contact with their teams to lead the way in developing an excellent product. That said, it’s highly beneficial to go out in person and communicate with the customers, investors, partners, and many others. So, do Product Managers travel?
Yes, most Product Managers travel. The job description of a Product Manager can vary greatly from company to company. Some companies will allow the Product Managers to perform all their duties from the office, while others will expect them to go out in person to form and build relationships.
Okay! But why do they have to travel?
Why Do Product Managers Travel?
There’s still no video calling technology that can provide better value than a meeting in real life. The same goes for visiting potential clients, investors, or anyone else.
Think about how much more you value a family member visiting you in person compared to when they call you to say hi. There’s a big difference, and the same applies to business.
It can also be very beneficial for a Product Manager to travel to observe how customers interact with different things. This helps to bring forth ideas that will put the product ahead of the competition.
Besides observing potential product users in public, a PM should also arrange for meetups with current users and find out what they love and hate about the product.
Of course, with the rise of video conferencing services, traveling is becoming less compulsory every year. But that doesn’t mean physical visits are becoming less valuable. We believe that Product Managers should use traveling to their advantage as much as possible.
Even though the traveling itself takes time out of your work schedule, the value from a real-life visit can easily overpower the time it took to get there.
You can also listen to Product Management podcasts while you travel so that you gain knowledge along the way. Something you hear in the podcast could spark off an idea that you can pitch to the people you’re visiting.
When Do Product Managers Travel?
Product Managers travel to trade shows, partner visits, and customer visits. They also travel to receive training and to give training.
Usually, the more you move up in the company, the more you must travel to liaise with potential partners, investors, and more.
An Associate Product Manager might land up traveling more to receive training.
The amount of travel a PM will need to do will depend on where all the different departments and colleagues are in the company. If all the employees of the company are on one property, you won’t need to travel as much. But you still must meet with other people in different locations.
In a big way, a Product Manager is like a messenger, getting valuable information from certain people and passing that information on to the right people within the company.
Product Managers might need to travel for the following reasons:
- Key customer visits,
- Product demos,
- Visits with analysts or media,
- Meeting current and potential customers.
These types of visits/meetings are better to perform in person. Video calling can work well to keep in contact with these people in between real-life visits.
Other meetings that may or may not require travel are:
- Weekly core team meetings,
- Bi-weekly sprint sessions with the development team,
- Meetings with the sales department, and
- Marketing meetings to strategize on campaigns.
You might not have to travel to these meetings if you use video conferencing. Video calls can be useful to connect with people inside the company that you already know. However, it’s not usually recommended to form a relationship with clients or partners over a call unless there is no other option.
Customer feedback is also much more valuable when done in person because you can interact with people better. You can read their body language easily, and they will appreciate and respect you more.
If you’re lucky, and all your colleagues are on one property, you can walk around to the various departments.
Related Further Reading:
- Are Product Managers Paid More Than Engineers? (Real Figures)
- Is Product Management Part Of R&D? (How It Differs From R&D?)
- Do Product Managers Have Direct Reports? (Yes And No)
Benefits Of Traveling As A Product Manager
Given below are the benefits of traveling as a Product Manager:
1. Better connect with customers.
Customers will feel more compelled to answer your questions to the best of their ability because you put effort into going out to see them in person. You’ll be able to read body language easier and pick up different vibes more accurately.
2. Meaningful interaction with colleagues.
Traveling to meet up with different departments in the company instead of contacting them virtually also builds strong relationships.
3. Exposure to new ideas.
Traveling around with sales to industry expos can lead to massive improvements for the product.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Are Product Managers Engineers? (Product Managers Vs. Engineers)
- Do Product Managers Code? (Yes And No, Here’s Why…)
- Are Product Managers Paid Well? (Actual Salaries They Get)
- Are Product Managers Respected? (How To Gain Respect As A PM?)
Essential Points To Keep In Mind…
Product Managers usually travel out of the office at least once a week. Even if the entire company is on one property, the PM will still need to go out to meet with investors, customers, partners, trainers, and trainees.
A strategy for reducing traveling times is to initially meet people in person and then implement virtual meetings slowly. You must still go out and see them in person once in a while though, even with the virtual meetings.
The same goes for colleagues. It’s best that you first start interacting with them in person, even if you must travel. It will take a long time to feel that they truly know you just from video calls. After you get to know each other, you can substitute certain physical meetings with virtual ones.
Although we find great value in traveling around to meet with people and learn new things, the world is changing into one where less travel is necessary.
At the moment, most Product Managers still need to travel, and we don’t think that will change for at least 1 or 2 decades. But we understand that the amount of travel will decrease slightly year on year in all careers across the board.