Sales. Does that instantly become an ugly thought to you?  All my professional life I thought the word or title was something to be avoided like the plague.  It brought to mind a picture of a person spending endless amounts of time on the phone, or going door to door, or standing with their arms folded on a new or used car lot.  Sales.  Ugh.  Not for me…no way, never.

Fast forward to mid-2000s and I’m mainly working as a self-employed consultant and what am I doing a lot of?  Sales.  The good thing is – I’m selling something that I’m deeply aware of and interested in…my own abilities and services.  But on the flip side, the ‘no’ is harder to take that way, isn’t it?  After all, if I am selling a car and you say ‘no’, that doesn’t bother me too much – except from a monetary standpoint – because I didn’t build the car.  But if you say ‘no’ to me – to my services and what I have to offer – then you’re saying no to my abilities in a way (even though you may just be saying no because it’s truly not in your budget right now).  That’s the consulting project manager’s outlook.

What about the project manager who is working directly for an organization as an employee.  How do they fit into the sales process?  Well, if you’re running a million project you’re likely selling all the time as well.  You’re selling your ability to the customer to run their project for them and you’re auditioning for them every time you hold a weekly project status call and deliver a project status report.  You’re selling to the customer every time there is a need for a change order because something the customer wants or needs isn’t part of the current requirements.  You’re selling the new capability and you’re selling the idea that it wasn’t your fault that it fell out of the original requirements.  You’re trying to convince them to pay without raising a red flag that you dropped the ball somewhere and should be doing the work for free.  If you haven’t heard that on at least one project so far, then you’re not managing meaningful or challenging projects.