Sales orgs stand to gain a lot from incorporating project management principles into their operations. While sales project management is loosely defined and often overlooked, sales leadership should at least consider folding the core tenets behind it into their broader objectives and sales reps' day-to-days.
Here, we'll take a closer look at what project management can look like in the context of sales and how applying its principles to sales efforts can provide a big-time lift to sales orgs.
Project Management for Sales
Project Management in Sales Processes
Project management, as a concept, can have a place in the context of most sales processes. When you break a sales process down, each step — from prospecting to qualification to pitching to closing — essentially qualifies as its own stage of a greater project.
A prospect doesn't just become a customer on a dime. Getting there usually requires a carefully conducted progression, partitioned into incremental steps. For instance, prospecting and qualifying a lead can involve steps like research, discovery calls, and demo scheduling.
In theory, all of those steps can be treated as individual deliverables — compartmentalized into detailed workflows and tracked by multiple stakeholders. In turn, the overarching objectives supported by those deliverables become more straightforward, less imposing, and flat-out simpler.
Project Management Across Teams
Your average sales org is typically composed of multiple teams — potentially including sales development, business development, account management, field sales, inside sales, and a host of other subsets of a sales department.
Project management is often leveraged as a means of connecting a series of stakeholders across multiple teams. It fosters collaboration to break down silos and facilitate productive communication between various project participants — sales teams can benefit from adopting those processes.
Applying project management principles to sales processes and other key sales activities that can reduce redundancies, streamline sales operations, make sales efforts more predictable, and offer sales leadership better visibility into how their teams and broader orgs are operating.
How Project Management Helps Sales
1. It increases accountability among reps.
Increased visibility is a staple of all things project management. The software that supports these kinds of efforts generally lets project managers see where various stakeholders and personnel stand concerning their contributions to a project.
The same mentality can be applied when incorporating project management principles into sales efforts. Sales managers — operating in a project management-style capacity — have visibility into their reps' workflows and general progress.
That kind of readily available insight on each reps' performance lends itself to better discipline and more accountability. If reps know that their managers can keep a pulse on their day-to-day operations, they're less likely to slack off and let certain responsibilities fall by the wayside.
2. It lends itself to better productivity.
Project management is, at its core, a series of principles dedicated to streamlining goal attainment and increasing productivity within certain constraints — including budget, scope, and time.
Those principles and benefits can apply to your sales operations. Leveraging project management tactics to support your sales org's objectives and broader goals makes your sales efforts more manageable, productive, and efficient.
3. It offers reps more clarity in terms of their responsibilities.
Tactical, measured delegation of responsibilities is a staple of any successful project management effort. Effective project management rests on an organization's ability to clearly partition and assign tasks to various stakeholders within it.
When you apply those principles to a sales org's operational objectives and overarching goals, you can give reps more clarity on what's expected of them and how they're supposed to make good on those responsibilities.
4. It gives salespeople direction through clearly defined timelines.
A lack of understanding of the "when" behind sales efforts can take a massive toll on a sales org's direction and productivity. Clearly defining timelines is a key component of project management.
When salespeople have definitive, readily visible deadlines attached to their responsibilities, they have a better understanding of leadership's expectations and a solid basis for how they can most effectively allocate their time and effort.
5. It makes for more productively collaborative sales floors.
Most successful sales floors involve some kind of collaboration. Salespeople across virtually every role or degree of seniority stand to gain a lot from freely sharing goals, insights, and other key information.
Collaboration is central to effective project management. Broader projects often involve stakeholders across multiple teams — and facilitating free-flowing communication and partnerships across those different bodies makes for more consistent goal attainment and better execution.
Encouraging collaboration between representatives from sales development, business development, account management, sales operations, and any other bodies within a sales org allows for more cohesion and delivering on both operational and strategic objectives.
Applying project management practices and principles in the context of a sales process can be a big help for any sales org struggling with organization, open communication, and other key functions that contribute to smoother day-to-day operations and broader goal attainment.
If your business is dragging due to silos within the sales department, scattershot communication, accountability, or task delegation, looking into project management principles and resources might be in your best interest.