How Project Managers can be Effective in a Sales and Marketing Role
The goal of the Project Manager is, understandably, to manage the project. That is, to make sure that everything is running smoothly, to keep the team on track, to set goals and timelines, to assure quality control of deliverables, and so on. At the same time, the goal of sales staff at any company is to generate interest in projects both current as well as potential work. Given this general structure, how can Project Managers play a more active role in generating additional work?
While on the surface this may seem to be a bit of a stretch, the actuality of the matter is that PMs are in a unique position to sell work. Not only are they involved in every aspect of a project, but they also deal with all of the different stakeholders, they guide and advice members of the team and are thus familiar with the connection and relationships between various people, and they also are in constant contact with senior management, giving them not only a unique perspective, but also a pathway to the key decision-makers.
As such, they are able to not only work on the day-to-day requirements of the project at hand, but they are also able to realize the future business benefits of said project as well what else the project may lead to. They can see the bigger picture thanks to their close working relationships with the range of stakeholders mentioned earlier, and have the ear of senior management to further discussions around follow-on work.
In order to be effective in this role, however, Project Managers need to be mindful of the needs of the organization not just in the future, but also as it pertains to the goals of the current project under their supervision. This means that the needs of the current project must come first; Project Managers hoping to sell additional work should never lose sight of their primary considerations. Timing is, of course, everything; the wrong time to bring up add-on work is in the initial stages of a project, or even when a team is in the thick of things. Senior management would be justified in wondering why future work is even being brought up at that point, when the current work has barely begun!
When is the best time? When your team has proved its mettle, has shown that its work can be invaluable to an organization, and has concrete recommendations or outcomes to hang its hat on. If a Project Manager is presenting conclusions to senior management and has worked hard to establish excellent relationships, those members of management would be remiss in not taking advantage of a relationship currently in place to keep momentum moving forward. And it would not be remiss of the Project Manager to include in those presentations the future possibilities that can be reached if work continues, doing so in a way that the organization’s interest is piqued. By tackling the sales and marketing role in this manner, the selling of additional work will seem like a natural extension rather than a pushy maneuver to sell more work at all costs.