Any salesperson will tell you: Everything is sales. Of course it is. Isn’t our life and our work about convincing people to see the value and take action toward a goal? We want to come together and put some money on the table. Invest some capital into the idea. That’s the only way ideas become a reality.
Salespeople take the time to listen, talk and persuade people — customers — to commit. It’s a lot of fun meals and drinks until the moment the customer commits. It takes time. Solution engineers, salespeople and customers kick around the ideas. What if we added this? What if we took that off? This year? Next quarter? What is the right solution? When is the right time?
At the yes, at the signature, the sale is made. Lift your drink and celebrate! It’s all over.
Oh, wait. No, it’s not. We AV people sell solutions and experiences. The sale is the concept. The execution is the reality.
Any project manager will tell you: Everything is a project. The contract is the start. Everybody gather round; let’s get the details worked out. This wall? This high? That camera? That VLAN?
Don’t miss anything. Double-check and schedule the next meeting. Does that cover it? Let’s review and make sure we have the right stakeholders involved. Some things we can’t know until after the install — after we test it. It takes a lot of work to do the work.
Get ready. What did we forget? Write it all down and review assumptions— are they still accurate? Make the project plan, execute and track the punch list. Are we done? Test it.
Still not done, done. The payment doesn’t come until the scope is complete; the project tracks that acceptance. These are all the trailing little things it takes to get the project to the finish line — paid.
Sales and project management: It’s two sides of the same coin. We need each other. There are no projects without sales. If the projects are successful, if the customer doesn’t have a good experience, the next sale will likely not be successful either. It’s always easier to sell to an existing customer. It’s also essential to stay in touch with the customer to capitalize on opportunities. It’s definitely not the salesperson’s job to keep the project on track. Instead, it’s sales’ job to get the next sale. Staying in touch with the process and the project team along the way can make that a lot easier. The project manager has a very convenient set of meetings, all scheduled. Sales can hop on and nurture this ongoing relationship and keep tabs on what is most important to them. The customer’s project team is very aware of their priorities. They bring them up without even being asked.
By dropping in, sales can learn what kinds of things upper management are concerned about. Speed of completion? A specific look and feel? These meetings are a real-time temperature check. Are they happy? These meetings are a team. On a team meeting, the salesperson can learn things that might otherwise seem sensitive. What changes are happening in the company? Are there plans to expand into different regions or shrink in others?
As the team gets more comfortable, they might share things that the manager who signed the contract might not know. Is that manager well-liked? What other political struggles in the leadership might be happening?
When other departments are invited, such as the network group and facilities — a larger picture forms, more diverse opinions will be heard. The salesperson can use this information to craft the next solution. Projects take months or even years. The project team is engaged long after the original group that met with the salesperson has moved on. Project meetings are an opportunity to grow the relationship. Don’t let the warm relationship grow cold. Stay connected to the life of the customer. Things are always moving; people move up and move on. New ideas are proposed, and the sooner we know about a customer’s new direction, the sooner we can suggest the right solution.
Sales can miss out on a vital information channel if they neglect to stay in contact during the project process. It can seem easy to slip into complacency and allow the project managers to do their work alone. But the project manager’s job is communication, and sales thrive on precisely that.
All those emails flying back and forth to nail down the project’s details hold even more information. The mood, the urgency and how well-satisfied the customer is with the process is helpful information for sales.
Each role has its part to play — the customer who signed the contract hands the project off to a team to execute. The salesperson has to get the solution sold and then hands-off. However, the parts can be layered like building blocks. Working together can be a boost for sales, which in turn keeps the project team busy. We are stronger together.