Why a Project Manager can actually sell better than the average Sales Person
There are a few skills that make project managers an essential role to organizations. We have mentioned before that “projectized” companies, frequently rely on Project Managers as the pivot role in the center of the organization during the duration of projects, that is, they are the main interface among all the stakeholders, including the customer, Management, production, legal and marketing areas, and so forth. If the adoption of this model is mature enough, Project Managers (PMs) even rule both vertically and horizontally in the hierarchy of the company, and may set tasks and milestones as the Project demands.
My experience working or collaborating with different organizations shows that there is a sort of disconnect between Project Management and Sales. Many Sales Executives do not take advantage of the valuable resource of using PMs as expert consultants during their sales meetings, a resource that likely would bring solidity and expertise to their proposals; on the other hand, PMs frequently complain about the golden promises that Sales people do, and that they –who else?- have to execute and make come true. People working with different, many times, opposed goals, may create friction and tension, and, as we humans tend to generalize, and we love it, from saying that PMs do not like Sales people, it takes only a little step to say that PMs do not like Sales.
To further qualify this discussion, I’d like to mention the professionalization component. I refer to a Professional Sales Person, as one who uses a specific methodology, and has a model able to be perfected or reinvented as necessary, most likely is trained and updated with specific knowledge on the subject, and is not a successful sales person because having people skills. Likewise a true PM masters a body of knowledge and is likely to have some sort of certification. Maybe some other day I will blog about the old but recurrent topic on why (good and bad reasons) in some professions we still find many -successful- professionals who do a job without a certification, sales people and project managers are two of them.
Despite the relatively low popularity of Sales amongst the PM community, the aim of this article is to describe a few of the skills that, due to their vital relevance for the success of projects, Project Managers have developed and mastered more in a survival mode that help them anticipate disaster, minimize risk and ultimately bring their projects to a successful end. Next time you have a Project Manager say they don’t like Sales, prove them wrong by asking them a few of these questions:
- Are you good in defining a scope in such a way that leaves all confusion and fussiness apart? Is the “what is not in the scope is not in the project” one of your commands”?
- Do you understand concepts such as budget, calendar, and quality attributes’?
- Are you trained in documenting, reporting on a timely basis, as well as using numbers, percentages and ratios in your communication?
- Do you understand that “the project rules”?
- By own experience, have you learned not to take things for granted, and take action before catastrophe happens?
- Are you proficient in following up on tasks? Not only tasks assigned to you, also the ones you assign to other people?
- Do you see value in trying to balance the best possible share for all stakeholders involved?
- Being the main interface among different types of stakeholders, have you commonly been able to make your point across, normally under some sort of pressure, and even do so in their own technical, marketing, legal, or management jargon?
Then guess what. You could actually sell better than the average sales person that bases performance on persuading, improvising, overcoming resistance, manipulating or managing objections. You are actually skilled to manage a Project we could call a Successful Sales Cycle.
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