What’s a Product Strategist? Benefits of Hiring one for your SaaS Company

January 15, 2024
9 min read
Product Experience

SaaS organizations often misunderstand the role of a Product strategist due to its diverse responsibilities and collaborative nature.

The developers and UX designers can’t help you beat the competition. And product managers gather requirements and set tasks in order - but they can’t ensure your product fits the market demand and beats your competitors.

The reason is the lack of strategic thinking, which a product strategist brings to the table. Without a strategy, you’ll get your first few users but fail in the long run.

This blog answers all questions regarding product strategy and the importance of a product strategist in a SaaS company.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is Product Strategy?
  • What does a Product Strategist do?
  • Responsibilities of a Product Strategist?
  • What makes a great SaaS product strategist?

What’s a Product Strategy?

A product strategy is a plan that helps your product fit in the market space. It’s about zooming out of the creation and designing process and looking at — the market fit and the user application.

There are 15,000+ SaaS companies in the US alone, and not all of them sell unique products. With a few differentiators, sales still comes down to market demand and user adoption. To beat your competition, you need a set strategy — a framework to follow.

The product strategy involves evaluating your visions and backtracking the workflow to build a set path for your employees to follow. It bridges the gap between skills and goals.

If a product strategist is your architect the product strategy is a blueprint. Let’s understand how a strategist helps with the growth of your SaaS business.

What does a Product Strategist do?

A product strategist is a person who has an overview of where a SaaS product fits in the bigger picture. He understands the market, the user needs and aligns your product with them to meet your business goals.

A product strategist understands your vision and it differs to each founder or director/

  • They prioritize and supervise small tasks to meet the bigger goal.
  • They come up with a framework that helps you create a product that satisfies the user and makes a profit while doing so.
  • A product strategist lays out a plan for product growth and evaluates the company’s performance to find new opportunities.
  • They drive operations to ensure that all teams are focusing on user needs with the help of the product manager.

Product Manager vs Product Strategist

Product strategist and product manager are two roles thrown interchangeably all over the industry. But both of them are important and brind a different value to the table.

  1. Product managers help you find the unmet gaps using users research whereas product strategists find the gaps with competitive analysis. They come up with opportunities that can produce maximum revenue and business value.
  2. Product managers get closer to their goals by meeting the needs of wider audiences. But product strategists do the same by enhancing their business model to cut down the competitors and add a new value to the audience.

Responsibilities of a Product Strategist

A product strategist wears many hats. The role differs with every company, depending on the size and scale of the organization.

It extends to supporting the designers, assisting the user feedback team and providing practical reasons to stakeholders for conducting user research.

Creating users Development Programs

The purpose of your SaaS product is to help users reach the desired outcome. Product strategists create user development programs to determine whether your product is doing that or not.

It involves open discussions with your target audience at every step of the product development cycle, which helps users see the value proposition in your product.

Product strategists find the proper channels to engage with your target audience and set KPIs for each to measure the engagement.

Focus on Scaling with users Feedback

Product strategists focus on long-term vision. They identify users with low, medium and high engagement with the product and segment them accordingly. They also implement the process of gathering users feedback and spread it across all systems in the organization.

Product strategists oversee the team’s accurate accumulation, synthesis, and interpretation of users feedback, so the strategy focuses on their success.

Curating a Product Roadmap

Product strategists build roadmaps that tie the company’s objectives with users' satisfaction. These roadmaps contain actionable steps for all team members, and strategists also share these with executives and board members to get their insights.

It’s their job to categorize roadmaps based on different products and timelines. It streamlines the workflow as product teams get tasks they need to finish in a set time.

Building Hypotheses to Test Products

Product Strategists use hypotheses to develop product principles and make decisions. In this scenario, users feedback becomes your primary collateral which you use to derive further speculations about what the user wants.

For instance, if market research shows that SaaS users want more automation, you can use this information to create better products like automated playbooks. Strategists use product principles to cultivate operations that bring out the best from your product.

What makes a great SaaS Product Strategist?

A product strategist doesn’t have a set role, and they’re responsible for multiple tasks on top of handling teams. It’s safe to say that they need diverse skills to nail every aspect of the job.

Understanding Company’s Vision

A company’s vision constitutes the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your product, i.e. why it exists and what it does. A good Product strategist understands your vision and develops strategies to make it a reality.

A SaaS business goes through many twists and turns, which leads to changes in the core structure of the product. A strategist ensures you stick to your vision; despite the challenges — they keep you on track.

Collaborative Leadership

Although a product strategist leads collaborative efforts and provides frameworks, they can’t be dictatorial. An essential quality in product strategists is handling collaborative efforts from designers, developers and managers while answering the stakeholders.

They must explain the reason for choosing one suggestion over the other and how it’s best for users' success. .

Understanding Marketing

Even though product strategists don’t create marketing strategies, they say what works and what doesn’t.

It’s imperative for a product strategist to understand marketing — in some cases, lead generation — to foresee your efforts and give insights from a user’s perspective.  

Knowledge of User Pain Points and Adaptability

Product strategists act as users representatives, outlining what they want from the product and curating frameworks for the company to match their expectations.

They make sure that users are always at the center of the flywheel. Sometimes, SaaS companies innovate fast even though users are not ready for updates.

A product strategist aligns advancements with users adaptability, so companies don’t move ahead of themselves. They make sure your company curates solutions based on users’ wishes and not just for the sake of it.

Research and Analytical Skills

A product strategist does market research to find gaps, new opportunities and threats. On top of this, analytical skills help them make informed decisions and propose areas of improvement.

A good product strategist juggles various contributions, be it from stakeholders, product managers or developers’ teams. They analyze the value of each to use them for product development.

Communication Skills

Company stakeholders and board members care a lot about product strategy; they want to know how it’s giving them a competitive advantage and revenue boost.

They care about market share, brand perception and equity, directly linked to the product strategy. A product strategist must communicate all these points effectively.

Also, they need to explain frameworks and workflows to the product managers, so strategists must break down complex mechanisms in simple words.

How can SaaS companies benefit from a Product Strategist?

In a product-led model, users' success drives business growth. With a product strategist on board, you’re always aware of users expectations, so you implement them into the product from the get-go.

A product strategist holds your hand through the complete product development cycle as they keep an eye on the current phase and plan further steps. They reduce the impact of all threats on your product.

Here are the top 5 reasons why you need a product strategist in your organization:

  1. They prevent your SaaS company from becoming a feature deployment factory and creates a product your users need.
  2. They analyze complex research data and convert it into easy to understand graphs and presentations for the management.
  3. You get a detailed roadmap for every goal of your organization with a set timeline and steps to achieve it.
  4. Product Strategists help you analyze and implement users feedback into your product.
  5. A product strategist identifies business partnerships to extend your reach to new users whenever you launch a new product.

Wrapping Up

Hiring a product strategist can be a game-changer for your SaaS company. They are a jack of many trades handling product development market research and curating a foolproof strategy to align your product with users needs.

Moreover, they effectively communicate the plan with all teams. Depending on their performance, you can promote them to higher marketing positions as they’re more than capable of handling it.

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