Project Management

Sell Your Project

From the Project Your Voice Blog
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Understanding that what we say and how we say it has a great influence on our project stakeholders.

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Salesperson showing a customer something on the screenDo you have stakeholders who don’t believe in your project? If so, be prepared: you must sell them your project. You are the salesperson and your product, the project. Let’s investigate sales communication techniques to help us get people on board the project.

You first need to get their attention. You can certainly use a question to pique their interest. I prefer to use a short, surprising statement. Years ago, I was working on implementing drug information systems for Canadian provinces and territories. When someone would ask me what I did I would reply that I helped make drugs safer. That would usually get an arched eyebrow or two.

You now have their full attention. What now? Start asking questions that the audience or person must answer with yes. Do you want to give your customers a better experience? Yes. Do you want the worker’s morning commute to be safer? Yes. By using questions that line up with their beliefs, you will generate interest in your project.

Now your audience is interested. The next step is to show how your project will improve the customer’s experience or make driving safer. The trick here is to not focus on the features but rather the benefit. It’s not about the faster CPU, it’s about time with your children. It’s not about the road surface, it’s about the saved lives.

You must present your stakeholders with a unique selling proposition. Tell them how your project will result in a specific benefit. Explain why your project is the only one that can deliver that benefit.

After getting their attention and generating interest, you should by now have created a desire for your project.

Feel free to use sales words like you, discovery, safety, help, new, money, prove, love, easy, results, save, and guarantee. You need to paint a picture in your stakeholder’s mind. The person should associate your project with pleasant thoughts.

By remaining sincere and enthusiastic, you will make your project a tangible advantage for the stakeholder. That is what the art of selling is all about.

Posted on: January 09, 2020 07:07 PM | Permalink

Comments (12)

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Painting the image of your project in the stakeholder's mind is better done by you the project manager, you can choose the colour. :-)
Very true, Thanks

Dear Stéphane
Interesting your perspective
Thanks for sharing

I really enjoyed reading some of your suggestions:
- Use of the "Progressive Concordance" or "Yes" technique
- It is important that the approach is taken from the perspective that the audience can benefit from the product / service or project outcome

All that remains is to deal with the objections and close the sale :-)

Absolutely, Vincent. You could say we need to show the true colours of the project.

Correct, Luis. With practice, the objections will be dealt upfront as part of your yes questions.

Thank you, Stéphane. Really great points. So true that stakeholders won't be interested in the nitty-gritty, or outputs, rather the outcomes. We've had these discussions on appropriately messaging based on audience to maintain a WIIFM factor. Thanks!

I can read tonnes like this, thank you Stephane!

Absolutely, Andrew. I tried my darndest not to use the WIIFM cliché in my post but that's exactly the point.

My pleasure, Suzi. I don't know if I'll make it to 2,000 posts, but I can try for a metric tonne. :D

You're addressing an area that does not get enough attention in projects - organizational change management. An important part of that is engaging stakeholders, understanding how they feel about the change, and implementing strategies to get them on board. You need to understand the sources of resistance and the right ways to deal with them. There's more psychology involved than PMs usually have to deal with. It's also a different enough function that it is challenging, to say the least, to be both PM and CM on projects that really need a CM.

Indubitably, Aaron. Organizational change management is definitely an area that often requires selling techniques. And, as you pointed out, project managers need to get comfortable and confident enough to do a good selling job. A true change manager has a different mindset than a project manager. It certainly helps when the roles are held by different persons.

Everybody must feel that they will be more rich thanks to the project than without it, where rich does not mean more money only. Thank you very much for sharing. We need to sell our projects indeed, mainly because we need to convince people to work for our project and we do not have formal power on them.

Assuredly, Sergio. I like how you put it. We should all be enriched by the project.

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