PMs and Selling

Most Project Managers think selling as a PM’s skill is some sort of an oxymoron – being a PM is the opposite of selling. You manage and report the facts, deal with estimates and manage a group of people. The sheer fact of the job limits the ability for a PM to sell, right?

I couldn’t disagree more – PMs must sell, and we sell every day. Some call it negotiation, some call it “positional” authority, but break it all down and we’re selling our hearts out to get the project out the door. We sell to and with our team, to our stakeholders and definitely selling is an integral part of the client relationship. Don’t worry; I’m going to explain my assertion.

Selling is the process that two or more parties engage when someone has what someone else needs and an exchange will take place. (Doesn’t sound as dirty when it’s phrased like this, huh?)

The major problem with selling in the project management process is that many PMs hate the idea they “have” to sell. Selling is seen as some kind of surrender; a type of cop-out that appears to be beneath the PM. “Why should I sell anything to anyone; they should just do it because it’s their job and it’s the right thing to do” is a common refrain I’ve heard over time.

Fact is, selling is a core project management skill. It’s more important than many of the other distinct PM skills that are taught and standardized by PMI and others. The fact that a PM doesn’t like it is irrelevant – selling is integral to the process. In the next few entries, I’ll explore more about the world of selling in project management and discuss some of the basics that can help every PM get the job done by “selling” the benefits to the most important person – the one who’s listening to you.

Most Project Managers think selling as a PM’s skill is some sort of an oxymoron – being a PM is the opposite of selling. You manage and report the facts, deal with estimates and manage a group of people. The sheer fact of the job limits the ability for a PM to sell, right?

I couldn’t disagree more – PMs must sell, and we sell every day. Some call it negotiation, some call it “positional” authority, but break it all down and we’re selling our hearts out to get the project out the door. We sell to and with our team, to our stakeholders and definitely selling is an integral part of the client relationship. Don’t worry; I’m going to explain my assertion.

Selling is the process that two or more parties engage when someone has what someone else needs and an exchange will take place. (Doesn’t sound as dirty when it’s phrased like this, huh?)

The major problem with selling in the project management process is that many PMs hate the idea they “have” to sell. Selling is seen as some kind of surrender; a type of cop-out that appears to be beneath the PM. “Why should I sell anything to anyone; they should just do it because it’s their job and it’s the right thing to do” is a common refrain I’ve heard over time.

Fact is, selling is a core project management skill. It’s more important than many of the other distinct PM skills that are taught and standardized by PMI and others. The fact that a PM doesn’t like it is irrelevant – selling is integral to the process. In the next few entries, I’ll explore more about the world of selling in project management and discuss some of the basics that can help every PM get the job done by “selling” the benefits to the most important person – the one who’s listening to you.

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