How I became a product leader – Nalin Goel

How I Become a Product Management Leader

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Nalin Goel

VP Products, MoEngage

Nalin Goel is the VP of Products at MoEngage.  He is a self driven, result oriented professional having a high bias for action & task ownership to deliver results.

With customer centric thinking, he carries strong background in problem solving, negotiation, marketing & product development.

MoEngage is an AI driven omni channel marketing automation platform for startups and businesses.

Nalin shared in depth with our team about his background and how he lead products at MoEngage. 

Always keep the customer first. You will never go wrong with Product. Talk to them, if given a chance eat and drink with them and hear them sincerely

Product Management Journey

I am an accidental product manager just like many others. Coming from my startup to MBA at IIM Bangalore, I got an internship offer for Category Management role from Amazon which then changed to Product Management, a few days prior to my joining. I worked for two months with Amazon’s B2B initiative – Amazon business where I was given the task to formulate Mobile Product Roadmap and strategy for the product. While everything was new for me,  I loved the depth and breadth of the role. I was enthralled with the joys of user research, the eureka moments of insights and the dilemma of prioritization.

Post my MBA, I got a lateral offer from Snapdeal for Product Management role where I joined the Mobile App Team. I got a chance to work for internal CRM and customer experience engine at Snapdeal which opened doors for me at MoEngage. Been 3 years since I joined MoEngage where I have rolled out numerous products and features that have helped marketers to get more business value out of MoEngage platform

How the transition to a PM leader happened? Was it challenging?

I would say I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t know that I would get this opportunity so early on in my Product Management career. The transition from an individual contributor to PM leader is really challenging – the change in priorities as well as the required skill set. 

In the leadership role, you need to zoom in and zoom out a lot. You have to define the Product vision, a realistic strategy to inch closer to that vision and keeping your team aligned to achieve goals and milestones that can help you achieve that product vision. You need to ensure that you are helping/mentoring your PMs to learn and grow. 

You also need to have a regular and clear communication with other team leads to understand their concerns, plans and priorities to create better alignment. 

I am still learning on the job on how can I be a better PM leader every other day.

You have worked for Snapdeal and now with MoEngage. So how does Product management for a B2C product differ from a B2B product?

User vs Customer (target audience) – In B2C, success is measured around end-users deriving value from your product and most of the time the user is the buyer/decision maker.  While in B2B, success is about enabling your users to create value for their business by using your product. B2B products are designed keeping mind Buyer/Influencer/Users and a lot of other stakeholders depending on business.

Simple vs Complex Tasks – B2C products mostly allow end users to do simple tasks with great experience. Most B2B products aim at helping customers to solve multi-step complex business problems reliably

Value or Experience (or both) – In B2C, you create products that deliver value as well as great experience. Ease of use is paramount. Traditionally, in case of B2B,  buyers are more inclined to pay to solve a problem first and later worry about the ease of use. Functionality & Reliability should be delivered first so that value can be unlocked and delivered while user experience can be iterated over as user is more committed to achieve that value.

Larger cycles for Sales/Onboarding/Activation in B2B – Evaluation of B2B products needs clear objectives and complete understanding of business workflow. Since these decisions involve multiple stakeholders, purchase cycles are usually longer. Since it usually involves onboarding of a complete business process, the onboarding and activation cycles are also comparatively longer in comparison to B2C products.

Customer feedback – In sizable B2C businesses, product validation is faster with the qualitative and quantitative feedback available because of customer scale. In B2B, that’s not the case. If the number of customers that you are catering to are less or feature usage is limited, qualitative feedback has to be referred to. But if handled correctly with an open mind, believe me, qualitative feedback sessions are a gold-mine.

How to build a healthy relationship (as a PM) with Sales and marketing team?

At MoEngage, we have democratized our demand generation i.e. Customers/Users can directly reach to product to suggest what to build and other customers can up vote these request while adding their problems. While prioritization, we plan to build things that maximize the aggregate value we generate across customers. 

So for us communication and transparency are the keys to keep up that healthy relationship with Sales, Marketing and customer Success.

Making Sales and Customer Success the part of prioritization discussion, regular communication around what we are prioritizing and why, what we are building and when on a regular basis helps us minimize conflicts between Product and Customer facing teams.

Advance communication around new development and product launches, clear communication around goals for driving adoption of key products on QoQ basis etc. helps us keep marketing in sync with the product and help us collaborate better.

How does MoEngage decide pricing strategy for its B2B offerings?

We, as a product, believe in making marketing easier and unlock business value for marketers. Our pricing is also based on value add that we make to marketers and their business. Our pricing is a variable of Monthly Tracked Users for the most part of the product. We have chosen this axis because we want to help our customers to grow their engagement and retention. And take only share of that value. They grow with us and we grow with them. 

How do you manage user churn?

As a SaaS business, one of our key KPIs are Net Revenue Churn and for us, this is negative which says that business from the same customers is growing on a YoY basis. For the churned accounts, we try to deep dive into root causes, try to address the issues and try to rebuild trust if a customer is still on the fence.

For the ones that are churned, they serve as a learning for Product and Customer Success on how we could have served better.

What is your advice to product makers?

Customer First – Always keep the customer first. You will never go wrong with Product. Be closer to customer voice. Talk to them, meet them and hear them sincerely.

Know your Product (and it’s Tech) well – PMs should know their product really well. But they should also know their Product’s Tech. Even if you are not coming from a tech background, it is always better to know the tech behind your product. Know the overall architecture, information flow and key services that are enabling the product functionality. This will help you in empathising with your Tech, pre-empt corner cases and develop better understanding.

In Data, we trust – Data is the question to all the answers. Hypothesize and validate. Hypothesize and reject too.

Idea Champion – In any organisation, there are lot of good ideas. And ideas win on merit along with evangelization. Evangelize your idea and be an idea champion. That’s your ticket to create long-lasting value.

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