Top Project Management Practices Every Sales Team Should Use
While project management principles may be more commonly associated with engineering or financial projects, applying this same strategy to sales projects can accelerate your growth.
Sales teams are being asked to take on more and more sales projects that go outside the normal daily routines. The project management process can drive anything that has a defined starting and ending point. FSEs (Focused Sales Events) aimed at a product or business goal or product launches can especially benefit from project management strategies.
These principles work even when there aren’t defined periods. Salespeople today must be more organized than ever. Buying cycles are longer. There are more decision-makers in the sales process. Expectations are rising and there is more competition than ever.
Project Management In Sales
Sales managers can adopt these principles or individual salespeople can apply them to their own list. To get started, you need to follow project management best practices.
Because it’s sales, your goals will most likely involve a revenue goal or a number of deals closed. The better you can quantify the result you want, the easier it will be to track success.
Define your objective, decide which products or services you are focusing on, who the stakeholders are, and develop a profile for the best prospects.
As Rita Mulcahy explains in a Project Management Institute article, “Hidden objectives are the most troublesome aspect of many projects. Teams members have them, project managers have them, and certainly the customer has them. Realizing that it is necessary to look for hidden objectives is a unique skill that some of the best project managers possess.”
Recommended article: Five ways sales professionals can make projects successful
An overall sales goal is fine, but we all know there are interim steps along the way that lead to closes. It helps to break each step done into action steps along the way that will guide you through the sales process.
To start, break down your overall objective into interim goals. Under each goal, list out what it takes to achieve them.
In a typical sales cycle, your team will focus on tactics and stages:
Break down each of these phases into their individual action steps. For each phase, it helps to set a tangible goal, a deadline, and a review period.
During this phase, you will also need to outline any marketing materials or tools your team will need throughout the process.
For example, under prospecting, you’ll need to define what makes a good prospect and set an expectation for team members. Good prospects will need for what we’re selling, have the ability to buy, and the budget to support it. Sales is often a combination of quality and quantity. You need to determine an acceptable level of each for your project. Then, you need to assign a deadline for delivery. In our example, let’s say it’s 50 qualified prospects for each salesperson.
Once the prospecting list is ready, sales reps need to connect with these prospects and start the conversation. Set a goal for the number of connections made and a timeline to do so. Out of 50 qualified prospects, you might want to get 10 quality appointments. Once you secure those appointments, it’s crucial to communicate with prospects in a way that moves them closer to the sale. Sales managers need to continually coach their team on techniques to use that help potential customers make a decision.
As Makenna Rose, Senior Marketing Manager at Avoxi, explains, “Training your call center agents is half the battle, the other half is making sure that information learned in training is actually being used by agents.”
Make sure your team is equipped with the right tools you need to efficiently handle business connections.
While basic research should have already been done in the prospecting/qualifying and connecting phases, the interaction between sellers and buyers is crucial for discovery. You may want to commit to a specific number of phone connections or face-to-face meetings. These discussions should come with their own set of goals, such as establishing need and budget. These meetings aren’t just “meet-and-greets,” they should be discovery calls to uncover the information you need to frame your presentation.
In our example, your goal might be to complete 10 discovery calls and set follow-up appointments for presentations with the economic decision-makers.
Once you have the information you need, you can develop your presentation. Presentation templates and support material developed during the planning phase should be adapted to specific client needs for each prospect’s business.
Come armed with the information you need, answers to questions, and be prepared to meet and overcome objections.
After your presentation, you may have to follow up to get answers or provide additional material. You might need to address specific objections with specific solutions. If that’s the case, don’t leave without setting an appointment and getting a commitment to come to a decision.
Either way, always ask for the business. If the answer is yes, congratulations! Closing doesn’t always mean yes, however. It can also be no. Know when to talk away and move on to the next prospect.
Tracking And Wrapping Up
Throughout the process, you should always be monitoring and tracking progress. As a project manager, your job is to solve problems that arise on the way, refine procedures and processes, and step in to help with coaching and course correction when needed. When your project is complete, it’s time to review and note what you need to improve the next time out.
Using these project management techniques will improve your process and keep your team on track.