Last time, I discussed how sometimes the sales team hinders project management. This lack of cooperation is a disease that ails many companies. The really aggravating part about it is that few companies either don’t make an effort to try to bridge the gap between the two departments—and other departments besides—or they have no idea how to do it.
If your company does have the drive, or you want to start an initiative of your own, try out some (or all) of these helpful strategies below:
Sales teams already have lots of training materials, but it won’t hurt to give them a little more—especially if you give them cheat sheets on the more complicated concepts. The objective here is not to “dumb down” what the project management team does, but to boil it down to a message that will really “click” with their leads.
Train (Really Train) your Sales People
Cheat sheets are great for quick training cycles, but if you want a really effective sales team, you need to immerse them in the product. Any initial recruitment training should be supplemented by regular product training sessions, to make sure your sales reps know their stuff.
Have a Liaison
If your product is too highly specialized or complex, then consider hiring a sales engineer. They are often former programmers or engineers who know how to translate complicated concepts into layman’s terms, and work well enough with the customer to answer questions. Sales engineers are often present during product demos or sales meetings to act as technical backup to the sales rep. They also help the sales rep gather all the necessary information for and write up a project proposal.
Recruit from Within
I’m a huge fan of internal recruitment, and have seen people shift from the project team to the sales team. The benefits are obvious: they already know the business process, are familiar with the clients, and are already immersed in the corporate culture. Skills can easily be passed on if the employee has the right attitude and personality. This expertise and experience will help them a lot in their new sales role, as they can become a trusted advisor to clients and can easily figure out which leads are qualified enough for the PMO’s service.
Sales and project management may be separate departments, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help each other out. With the right kind of cooperation, we can make each other more effective and help the company (and the client) grow to greater heights.
Image credit, Flickr, SalFalko