Program Managers Can Be An Organization's Top Salespeople

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Categories: Program Management

It's usually up to the sales representatives and executives to pique the interest of potential investors or partners in a project. But program managers are in a prime position to offer unique insights into project proposals:

  • They deal with all the different stakeholders
  • They guide and advise their project managers.
  • They talk with senior management.
Still, many program managers only concern themselves with their immediate work. They don't think about the bigger picture. There's no discussion on what this project may lead to or what future business benefits it will bring to the organization.

But program managers should also be justifying and arguing the long-term benefits of their new projects -- not relying on others to do that for them.

Program managers have a duty to do more than ensure projects under their supervision are completed on time and on budget. Program managers have a lot more authority and opportunity -- and therefore responsibility -- to further the strategic objectives of their organization than a project manager.  

Program managers need to realize they're a catalyst -- someone who should be open to new opportunities, ready to explore new business ideas and enable their organization to move forward. From this viewpoint, program managers resemble salespeople. They have a duty to sell a vision for the future to their senior management and all their stakeholders.

What do you think? Should program managers act as salespeople, too?

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Posted by Lung-Hung Chou on: June 17, 2011 01:11 PM | Permalink

Comments (8)

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Iván Rivera, PMP
I agree with the proposals of the article.

Most likely the Program Manager is the one who best knows the strengths (and weaknesses) of the company.

This knowledge should be exploited when designing the strategy and goals are established.

The Program Manager should be able to sell this knowledge to the organization and the organization should be open to hear recommendations.

Mark Gibson
Absolutely! As stated, Program Managers are in a prime position to continue and enhance the business benefits from their programs. This naturally leads to additional projects and the benefits derived.

By engaging in the strategic conversations with stakeholders about the direction of the business, marketplace and realizations of anticipated benefits, the projects will fall out.

If Program Managers engage in this "sales" activity and ensure their projects all have significant ROIs, the program can continue indefinitely as the business evolves with the marketplace and strategic direction while getting increased return on the IT dollars consumed.

Daniel Malavazi
I don't agree with that. I think Program Managers see things in a different way. Sales person sells dreams and Program Managers must make dreams come true.

Hype aside, the Program Manager's job is to coordinate the delivery of tangible (product or service) business objectives that enable the organization to achieve business goals.

Even when composing a vision, it must be rooted in real, accessible and achievable elements. So why would a program manager be tasked with, ask to or fool themselves into slogan based promises?

Data should speak for itself. When a program manager presents, supports or consults then it is best to do so with the buoyancy of data driven likelihoods.

Salesmanship, under this circumstance, is nothing less than demonstrating knowledge, skill, discipline, expertise, performance and capacity.

Rama Vutty, PMP
Yes, Program Managers should act as salespersons and try tapping any opportunity within the organization that will add value to the business. This means not only selling to those who show interest but also taking a proactive step of mining potential opportunities in an organization that can be aligned with the program objectives.

In addition to this, Program Managers should also act as gate keepers and reject ideas/proposals that do not add value to the program's objectives.

Gautam Gangoli
Yes, program managers are in touch with their customer‘s requirements and when it comes to advising an ideal solution to their customers, they have look at the current trends and best-fit solution to the customers.

They are also in position to highlight the solutions to customers by means product walk-thru and Proof of Concepts. They are in an ideal situation to be a catalyst and it is their duty to make their seniors aware of the trends in industry, technology and to the stakeholders.

Mohammad Rahman, PMP
It is indeed possible that program manager engage himself/herself as sales representative. Sales responsibility can only be given based on organization structure. A program manager can play both sales and program management responsibility for the best benefits of the organization as program manager is the one who knows ins and outs of his/her program and related benefits along with future applicability of the outcomes of the program. In fact, such role is already available in some of the organizations. Sometimes, organization itself can not recognize how program manager is engaged in sales activity and sales manager is also engaged in program management activity.

Jagadish Velagapudi
Great topic and I completely agree that Program Managers can be good sales people as they are the closest to stakeholders and understand customer issues and potential opportunities. However, organizations need to look what is included in their job description or responsibilities. Sometimes Program Managers are given boundaries within which they need to operate. Apart from this, most of the times they are not empowered enough to make some key calls.

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