Project Practitioners > Do you need sales skills as a project manager?

Do you need sales skills as a project manager?

By Alfonso Bucero

During many years I believed project managers did not need sales skills. My perception was that sales people in general did not say what they believed and did not act on what they said. Because of that I was not very interested in developing sales skills as a project manager. I thought my focus was to deliver my project according the triple constraint. Ten years ago when I worked for a multinational company, my manager said to me, "You don't have sales skills. You will not ever be able to sell any project at all". In that multinational company the management team expected project managers generating more and more sales. However they did not give the project manager many opportunities to learn about that.

My relationship with sales people was very good in that organization. So I always tried to work on team with them and that way worked very well for me. They remind me I was much more time than them in the customer site when I managed a project. And I reflected on those comments understanding they said the truth.

I left that company and founded my own company. I was not aware of I was selling all the time when I managed projects in organizations. After some years I observed my business results, and I learned that many of my project sales were done indirectly, meaning I am selling when I am delivering a project. I am also selling when consulting within an organization. More and more I got better and better and more credible arguments to sell my services as a project consultant.

From the provider point of view the best sales people to sell more in a customer is the project manager because he/she is there dealing with customer people all the time. Customers look for professional behavior as one measure of credibility. They observe project managers almost all the time—looking for professional conduct, reactions and behaviors, how decisions are made, and the way they deal with people. They also look to these people as trusted advisors—people whose opinions they seek out when making decisions.

In order to sell you need to ask questions to your customer, you need to talk, explain and argue, so you need to follow some steps. As a part of those sales skills, the project manager needs to develop his/her presentation skills. I would like to share with you some reminders regarding how to prepare a great sales presentation. Each case need to be customized but these are the main things you may consider:
1. Be informed: before preparing any presentation for one person or thousands, know your purpose, know your audience well, and know your Logistics.

2. Pay attention to timing: a good practice in our experience for a straight presentation is to plan, prepare and practice for 75% of the allotted time. If you end early, no one complains. Ending late means poor planning.

3. Be based on audience interest: all presentation material is not created equal. When preparing your talk, consider the "need to know, should know, could know."

4. Use your passion: using your enthusiasm will create more impact and action that pure data.

5. Prepare user friendly notes: Use bulleted points instead of sentences. Make the type easy to read.

6. Rehearse your presentation: practice out loud saying it differently each time you say it. It is worth it.

7. Be excited: No coach tells the team to be calm. Conduct the adrenaline into enthusiasm. You can control the physical symptoms by breathing from the diaphragm, positive visualization and self-talk, plus by being prepared and practiced.

8. Deliver your presentation with excellence: deliver with passion; it is amazing how positive provoking enthusiasm is. If your voice is expressive and your gestures animated, you will appear to be passionated and confident.

9. Questions and answers: The question and answers part of the presentation may be more important that the actual presentation. Think ahead to all possible questions that might be asked, particularly the ones that might throw you.

10. Excellence: remember that speaking is an audience-centered sport. Avoid speaking out of ego, appearing too cocky or unprepared. As long as you stay focused on the audience in preparation, delivery and during the questions and answers, you can be successful as a presenter.

Definetely the project manager needs to develop his/her SALES SKILLS for project, business and professional success. TODAY IS A GOOD DAY to start.

Alfonso Bucero, MSc,PMP
Managing Partner
BUCERO PM Consulting

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