How Project Managers Think

It can often seem that to be a successful salesperson, you need to have immense project management skills.  Especially in more complex deals, the way you need to bring people in and out and manage several different individual expectations and opinions can mark the deal-making difference.

I mentioned this to a pal of mine from retail construction (considered, I’m delighted to learn, by one of the UK giant supermarkets to be among the best three project managers in his arena) and asked him for a couple of pointers from his perspective.  They can certainly be adapted for effective use on a sales campaign:

Variations – Every sale has requirements that change.  Wish-lists evolve, cost constraints cause cutback, egos drive agendas.  He keeps close tabs on these such “variations” by fully recording and documenting them, with input from all parties, in a weekly one-hour meeting on-site.

Detailed Plan – When he starts a project (a refurb for instance can be similar to a sales campaign, typically 12 weeks long) he makes a plan of what should happen for every resultant half-hour block.

Problem Resolution – One thing he’s seen derail projects is that when a problem occurs, once noted client-side, it can escalate all the way up their hierarchy, then dart across to the top of the supplier organisation, before cascading down all the way to the people responsible.  This raise and drop creates a snowball effect of course, all adding unnecessary grief.  So he institutes a process to avoid this when problems (inevitably) crop up.

Serious No-Gos – He learned to flag as many of these up as possible before any work is done after a pair of builders once, trying to be helpful and fill in some spare time, decided to address the curb stones outside the store’s entrance.  They chose to do it in opening-hours and the client went ballistic because their work prevented people from walking in.

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