Should the Project Manager be involved in the Sales Process?Muhammad Zeeshan Ali, PMP, PMI-ACP
“How do you transform your Project Management experience from Sales phase to After-Sales execution process?”. It is a simple question but the answer varies between the two groups; first are the Project Managers, working with product based companies, and second one are the Project Managers working with project based employers.
The companies that have a product or multiple products, involve Project Managers from the very start of the sales process. The Project Managers meet the client and are part of the sales presentation and other sales efforts. Once the sale is materialized, they continue into the next phase taking over from the sales team. Generally their managers are limited by a set of project management activities and are more sales oriented.
The companies that work on different projects involve Project Managers at the time of effort estimation for the project bidding and/or when the project has been awarded to the company.
So, the question is when should a Project Manager be engaged in a project? Mostly I get the response that they should start with the sales efforts and continue till the end, despite the fact that the employer is product based or project based company.
I term this general feedback as a “perfect scenario” wish. The problem with project based companies is that they are almost bidding on every possible opportunity and it would not be feasible to engage a full time project manager. Another problem they face is that there is generally a high level scope that is known at the time of the bidding so it is not really possible to engage a manager with relevant experience with vague scope and timeline. Generally the work of a Project Manager is limited to the description of the project, proposed management methodology and preparation of proposed project schedule.
For product based companies, the task is much more clear at the sales phase as well. The timeline is known for each product element. As mentioned earlier, the role of Project Manager is quite limited in terms of whole project management.
To summarize the discussion, the way managers are mostly engaged in projects for both product or project base is quite logical. The challenge that the Project Manager has to face, in such scenarios, is to adjust from one type to another. This is the reason we often see some good managers missing out on a job opportunity due to their exposure with just a Product or Project base company.