Project Management Institute

Unclogging the Pipeline

To Win New Business and Set Project Teams up for Success, Transform the Presales Process

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By Marat Oyvetsky, PMP

At sales-driven companies, a project can't start until a contract is signed. But in my experience at IT organizations, the sales pipeline can easily clog. Sales executives end up playing tug of war with other departments as they try to get service delivery quotes out to customers in a timely manner. Perhaps a solutions architect and project manager are too busy to craft a proposal. Or a statement of work (SOW) is held up in legal review. Delays can lead directly to lost business.

To retain business, organizations need a standardized and digitized presales process. Because the project management office (PMO) sits between sales and service delivery, it can and should drive this transformation. It can ensure a project's scope, price and assumptions are properly accounted for in the presales process, and then ensure successful execution after a sale. In this way, the PMO has beginning-to-end responsibility to the customer and accountability to the business.

STARTING POINTS

Although technology alone can't fix a troubled presales process, it's a good place to start. Creating a presales dashboard within a customer relationship management (CRM) platform offers immense value. When a new sales opportunity is entered into the CRM, it should automatically appear on the dashboard. This should then trigger a project manager being assigned to drive a standard three-part presales process: Hold a level of effort review meeting, draft a proposal/scope statement and then write an SOW to submit to the customer.

The main thing is to give both the PMO and the sales team visibility into where each opportunity is within the sales cycle. Action items should be assigned to owners to help push opportunities swiftly through clearly defined time frames for delivering presales-related items. For example, the PMO and the business could agree that each of the three parts described above should take no more than three days. A dashboard could then exhibit green, yellow and red warnings to help keep everything on track for timely completion. Nothing should linger.

PUSHING CHANGE TO THE FINISH LINE

The PMO is perfectly positioned to help drive sales, but it will not be effective unless there's a healthy partnership with the sales organization. These three steps set the stage for deep and lasting transformation:

• Create a process aligned to business needs.

• Get buy-in from primary stakeholders, including the CEO, CFO and sales leaders.

• Implement the process by training project managers and sales reps.

The sales world often doesn't mix well with process. But people will get on board when they see reliable results.PM

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Marat Oyvetsky, PMP, is senior manager, digital business transformation at RackSpace, San Diego, California, USA.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

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