Project management meets marketing and sales

by Philip Diab, PMP, Special Topics Editor


WE ARE BOMBARDED BY advertising and sales ploys in all aspects of the communications media today, from the Taco Bell chihuahua to the “Intel Inside” chirp. While many acknowledge the marketing genius behind these innovations, few would recognize the implementation skills and execution capabilities that enable these products and services to come to market on time, under budget, and within scope. What does it take to put together these promotional campaigns?

Here's how Marketing and Sales professionals view the expanding role of project management in their organizations.

If you guessed a “Project Manager” then you are ahead of the game. Like many others, the marketing and sales arena is faced with a world of never-ending change, challenge, and opportunity. Success in this environment translates into learning from mistakes, meeting challenges, navigating through change, mitigating risks, and most importantly, capitalizing on opportunities. And while Marketing and Sales folks don't usually think of themselves as project managers, their success has, for many years, relied on the use of an informal process in planning and implementation.

How much more effective would these initiatives be after implementing a formal project management process? Project management offers a systematic approach to bringing creative thinking, often initiated by brainstorming, to a timely, cost-effective implementation. By combining accepted marketing theories with project management's execution, monitoring, and control, Marketing and Sales professionals can create a competitive advantage for their organizations. Consider for a moment the following real-life experiences of Marketing and Sales professionals who have benefited from the use of project management:

Branding Strategies

“Implementing a brand is a process, one that traditionally requires a substantial investment and an attention to detail. Many times the future of the company depends on the successful implementation of the brand strategy. With so much riding on the branding process, and because the process typically requires a ballet-like choreography of every functional organization within the company, it is a natural fit with project management.

Philip Diab, PMP, MIM, is a project manager with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana. He founded the PMI Thunder-bird International Student Chapter, is founding chair of the PMI Marketing and Sales Specific Interest Group, communications vice chair of the Financial Services Specific Interest Group, and vice president of professional development of the Baton Rouge PMI Chapter.

Brand management has been referred to both as an art form and a science, a combination of gut-feel and flawless, consistent execution. A job that many times requires influence without authority and simultaneous attention to both the big picture and the details—also the definition of project management in the late 1990s.

—Adam Lippman, Director of Business Integration, Cotelligent Inc.

Customer Relationship Management

“The acquisition of work from existing [satisfied]clients represents one of the best ways to acquire new work, and the one person that directly affects the relationship with the client is the project manager. The project manager must not only possess the skills necessary to lead the firm in the commercial and technical execution of a project but must also have the marketing skills necessary to promote the firm's capabilities.”

—David Kernion, Vice President, Engineering and Marketing, RPM Engineering

Consultancy Business

“[O]ne of the most frequently expressed concerns within corporations is that Sales and Marketing personnel promise deliverables that are, at times, difficult for project staff members to produce on time and within budget. … After years of project management sales and consulting, I came to realize how Sales and Marketing activities heavily affect the first two phases in project management: initiating and planning. … Understanding my role and how it affected the rest of the project management processes helped me to more clearly define the client's requirements and to set more realistic pricing and schedules.

—Jan Smid, President, Corporate-Copia LCC

Market Entry Strategies

“Approaching the decision to enter a new market as a project allows companies not only to plan appropriately but also to track the execution of the market entry as well as adjusting and controlling progress to ensure compliance with the original scope of the project.”

—Mary Elizabeth Diab, Resource Analyst, IBM Corporation

Market Research Projects

“Learning about your customers’ needs so that you can deliver value-added solutions is a continual journey. Sometimes the realities of the Marketing environment (like overburdened resources or the desire to react to competitive offerings) can result in a flurry of activities that produce fragmented views of the market. When these efforts are positioned as a collection of market research activities that focus on a set of deliverables, we can begin to see how they can be viewed as more of a project or series of projects rather than an ongoing effort.

We have been able to apply project management concepts and methodologies to focus our limited resources and deliver valuable information about our customers’ needs so that we can make better business decisions.”

—Nicolas Campanis, Project Manager, The Eastman Kodak Company

Product/Service Launch Projects

“My firm was engaged by a major membership marketing organization to bring project management principles to its marketing area. By providing a project management framework to follow when launching a new product, the company benefited from an organized and well-thought-out approach; more buy-in and confidence exhibited from internal staff; a streamlined, effective process that dramatically reduced time-to-market; and a feeling of success and excitement about the results, not only internally but in the marketplace as well.”

—Susan Elliott, President and Consulting Partner, Fenn & Elliott

Sales Force Automation Projects

“Project management and Sales Force Automation (SFA) go hand-in-hand. Senior Sales and Marketing project sponsors need to look to the processes of project management in order to increase the likelihood of SFA implementation success, especially in an industry that has seen a project failure rate above 70 percent. Vendors and clients that work together to create a strong project initiation process consistently reverse this trend. One of the key components of these initiation processes is that they begin early in the vendor's sales cycle so that by the time the sale is complete, clear goals, objectives, authority and charter are in place. A second key benefit of strong project management within an SFA implementation is that of process focus. SFA projects frequently are focused on the implementation of a product and a set of product deliverables as opposed to the massive process change that SFA brings. Project management changes the focus of the deliverables to the tasks and activities that are required for change.”

—Ron Brown, Director of Customer Support, Information Management Research

Sales Initiatives

“It is no longer possible to rely upon the ‘cult of personality’ to lead a team or close a big deal. As margins get squeezed, products get commoditized, and it becomes more difficult to differentitate yourself from a competitor, sales professionals need to think and act more like project managers. This often means refining some of the traditional sales process by adding new rigor and focus on the customers’ needs and how best to meet them during the sales cycle, and, more importantly, during the implementation of the solution to which the customer said yes.”

—Anne Bundy, Vice President, Sales and Professional Services, Management Market Place Inc.

THE MARRIAGE of Marketing and Sales with project management methodologies will enable these professionals to capitalize on new business opportunities. But many Marketing and Sales professionals have not been introduced to the principles of project management.

The mission of the Marketing and Sales Specific Interest Group (MSSIG) of PMI® is to bring the successes of project management disciplines to the fields of Marketing and Sales and to provide a forum for growing and sharing project management practices to enable more successful marketing and sales efforts. The MSSIG vision is to build a bridge of communications between the project management and Marketing and Sales professions.

For general information on the SIG, visit or call PMI at 610-356-4600 Ext. 1024, and check out the SIG news section in the September PMI Today. images

PM Network September 1999



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