Project Management

Project Management Central

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Topics: Communications Management, Information Technology, Scope Management
Most common challenges, Sales to PM handover
In your experience, what are the most common challenges you usually/regularly face when it comes to getting the customer expectations (after their contact with pre-sales or sales team) in sync with reality?

What ways do you find most effective to make sure everyone is on the same page to avoid unhappy customers with unrealistic expectations?
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Andreas -

One way to avoid any missed expectations is to have pre-sales teams compensated based on ongoing customer satisfaction rather than just the initial sale.

If that isn't possible, then another option is to engage delivery staff before contracts are signed to meet the customer and start the process of (re)setting expectations.

Finally, if there is a clear gap between what was promised and what can be delivered, inform the customer as soon as possible and present options.

We - the delivery team is engaged with sales team at the pre-sales phase. Addition to this we have a formal sales to delivery hand over to have a clear idea of what was promised to the customer.
Last but no the least an ongoing connect with the customer with sales and delivery team ensures that we are living upto the customers expectations
These and other issues should be dealt with before any Project, Service Level Agreements or any other After Sales Services invoices have been raised. The objective of a sales department and a Project Management department are not aligned and probably never will be as sales person see that Project Manager should come up to our level in order to meet the expectations of our customers. It should be made clear and in plain language what exactly the Project Management department do and do not do and what situation must first exist before the Project Management Department takeover or on a Project as part of any contracted terms stated by the Sales Department.
Priya has the right of it. If anything, there should be no "hand off". Everyone should be on the same team from the get go: implementation with sales and sales with implementation.
The delivery team should be involved during the pre-sales and sales process. However is not a common practice, at least when I worked in Europe. The sales team didn't want to engage technological people in their sales speech...however here in the USA is very different, both work as a team, and in the sales presentations usually they invite the technical people just in case someone will ask for technical questions.
Andreas -
If delivery team is not involved in the pre-sales phase, there needs to be a formal handover process in place. The handover typically involves sales team documenting details of customer’s profile, background, communication history, and, any significant challenges faced during the pre-sales phase. This is typically driven by check lists completed by the sales team. Once this documentation is handed over to the delivery team, there needs to be formal meeting(s)/call(s) between sales and delivery to complete the formal hand over. It is important to involve sales team in the project status reports, status calls and steering committee meetings throughout the lifecycle of the project.
After taking over, delivery team needs to do a detailed joint walkthrough of contracts/agreements with customer to make sure expectations are set right. Throughout the lifecycle of the project, it is important for the entire delivery team to look for any signs of any gaps in the customer expectations, so that prompt discussions with customers can help set the expectations right.
Kiron has rightly pointed out that if sales team is compensated based on ongoing NPS, it helps to avoid challenges related to unrealistic customer expectations.
Andreas -
I normally meet with the Sales person prior to kicking off the project to make sure I understand what the goal of getting this is. What is the team trying to accomplish (in my case with software installs). I then ask them for their opinion on what the challenges will be for the project. What did she struggle with through the sales process, or what did he find that was a sticking point/tough decision for those to make.

I also ask them to be able to answer questions through the initiating and planning stages of the project so I can reach out with any questions. This allows me to get a feel for the team and the project and see if any new questions/concerns come up that I need to talk through.

Hope this helps!
I have been in the same position several times but on the other end :-) where I was the client and the team from the sales were pitching very high expectations and when I sat with the technical team I got hammered with the technical limitations.

My idea is that both should be working in cooperation and sometime pitching the idea together. That's why some companies prefer to have technical sales personnel to try and mitigate the effect of high expectations from sales that is not realistic but that doesn't usually work due to the KPI setting for sales.

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