Sales professionals and project managers are professionally worlds apart. However, who could’ve thought that people in sales have the potential to actually turn into a really successful project manager? Well, for starters, I experienced it.
Carmichael Jordan, a Caucasian male, living in the suburbs of Arlington, TX has consistently been performing his day to day activities by serving his role as a lead inside sales representative at Jacobs, a construction, repair & maintenance company. Apparently, his performance in the sales department wasn’t the only thing that got him noticed, his outstanding management skills is what made him step into the project management office.
Half an hour later Jordan came out with a satisfactory smile and a letter in his hands.
For a moment, we all thought they have sent the poor guy away just because he was always preoccupied in managing us all. However, our misconceptions were cleared once we walked into the office the very next day. There he was, standing with his head held high, in front of a door that said…
Carmichael Jordan, Project Manager.
Carmichael Jordan’s journey from being a sales representative to become a successful project manager intrigues you, doesn’t it? I was intrigued too and hence, I did a research of my own.
When we talk about core skills, project management and sales doesn’t hold much of a difference. Budget-conscious, time-crazed and shrewd than normal, the stereotypical project manager somehow significantly relates to a far-fetched cousin of outspoken, enthusiastic and cunning sales representative.
If you combine their efforts altogether, the power of target-oriented paradigms of sales and application of strategic methodologies of project management ultimately brews up the most perfect decision-making potion in the cauldron. You will be simply amazed at how the two holds quite a number of things in common.
Eager to find out? Let’s dig in.
Recognize What Stakeholders Want
Listening to the customer is the first thing for delivering the best possible solution. Why? Because before you work on a viable product, understanding the needs of the customer or end user is of foremost importance. And that’s where salespeople as well as project managers first understand customer’s needs and finalizing the project scope before coming up with a solution.
Recognizing what a stakeholder wants to require time and nobody can best understand it than someone who’s been in contact with them. By stakeholders, I mean customers, end user, and others. And listening to their input requires unwavering patience.
Nobody can understand the original pain of pacifying a customer whose requirements are not fully met other than a salesperson. Project managers keep the stakeholders involved in the development process. This way they can take their feedback and incorporate those change requests in future iterations if they’re following an agile methodology.
So, when a salesperson steps in the role of a project manager he can easily manage the stakeholders with both his eloquence and his knowledge of project management methodologies.
Ignite the Driving Force
Do you often find yourself surrounded with energy-sapping challenges? Maybe, you are not as much as self-motivated as you expect yourself to be. To achieve something, you need a relentless force which constantly drives you to achieve your goals.
Life of a project manager works around this self-driven force only. You can’t turn into a competent project manager unless you don’t know how to pass through the daily grind.
A challenging project requires a number of people, with varied skills, to contribute in order to successfully complete it. You need employees with diverse professional backgrounds skilled in creating quality deliverables. Alongside man-power, you require a thorough check to ensure projects get completed in allocated budget and on time. To achieve all of it, one needs an inbred motivation mechanism.
For a former salesperson, waking up every morning with a self-driven force is not a new thing. They have previously faced rejections and performed cold calls repeatedly when and if necessarily required. Hence, giving up isn’t a part of their personality any longer. They can formalize the perfect strategy to earn that long-awaited confirmation nod from a customer.
Budget, Budget & Budget!
Obviously, project budget is a priority, you need to get more realistic about the surrounding situations. Here’s what you need to do first. Get all the necessary input from your stakeholders; eventually, they are the ones who are paying for your project and get every stakeholder on the same page with regards to the scope of the project.
There are also a number of contingencies which are out of a project manager’s control. There is unavailability of both human and physical resources, raw materials delivery delays, scope creep and others. There are several other cataclysmic events which can radically shoot project costs like natural disasters and sudden macroeconomic changes.
To explain the abovementioned factors to the stakeholders a project manager must always be prepared to convince them in case the project requires more funds to be injected.
And who can convince someone better than a smart and experienced salesperson? If he steps in the project management arena, he will never shy away from handling rising concerns and queries of customers. Not only would he effectively explain the reasoning behind the increasing costs, but also ensure the stakeholders are willing to furnish the required resources or extend the deadline necessary for a successful completion of the project.
Takes Ownership and Accountability
One of the greatest quality of successful project managers is that they always take up ownership and accountability for the projects they embrace to deliver. Whether the project is progressing or delaying, project managers should understand that the responsibility of completing the project lies with them only.
Most project managers take an alternative approach. They build pressure among employees in order to make them go the extra mile for producing results. However, in the wake of performance, they often forget that adopting such strategies either result in creating low-quality deliverables or fail to reach set deadlines.
As a result, the project manager often found themselves in the rubbles of incomplete tasks and unfortunately, end up holding other people responsible for their failures. Managers are serious team players, they demonstrate the most perfect example of leadership. They help team members to reach their desired goals and while doing so, they keep a consistent supervision.
Why a sales representative is the best candidate for such a position? It’s because they are tailored to work in harsh business procedures. They are well-acquainted with protocols and it enables them to easily achieve their targets within set deadlines. They know how to decimate pressured situations and keep the team motivated to move forward.
Keeping Oneself Disciplined
Last but not the least, a project manager is extremely disciplined in religiously following protocols and ensuring the delivery team also follows them. The daily grind and routine followed by aggressive sales guys make them consistent and relentless to pursue the targets they’ve assigned. And this never-give-up attitude makes them deliver the goods no what how hard the situation might be.
Here’s why a sales representative outshines at performing specific tasks!
- They are committed to the task assigned to them.
- They are disciplined in their behaviors and practices.
- They are not easily influenced by any external factors.
- They closely monitor the progress and keep stakeholders
In short, they keep themselves well disciplined and perform remarkably to achieve the set defined tasks on the go.
The Wrap Up
Not every individual seeking to become a project manager steps into the market holding the impeccable management skills at hand. You need consistency, commitment, motivation, resilience, patience, focus and direction. The path to effective project management can eventually lead your team on a path to ultimately improve every other performance aspect in them.
What makes a sales representative the perfect candidate? They are well-disciplined, more accountable, and strongly self-driven individuals who really know how to get the job done. They are more logical than rational and that’s what makes sales representative a strong candidate for the position of a project manager. So, don’t feel afraid, if you are planning to implement change, now might be the right time to do it.