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sales skills for project managers

Why Sales Skills Are Important To Project Managers

At the core of being a successful project manager is communication. You need to engage with a whole host of stakeholders, sponsors and teams on a daily basis in order to reach your objective. A degree of technical and industry knowledge is of course imperative for a lot of these positions, but on top of that, you need deployable and personable skills in your repertoire that also include marketing and sales skills. These attributes will allow you to distribute information in the most effective way.

What are the key sales skills for project managers?

There are a number of essential elements that are needed to prosper as a project manager. Firstly – and one we’ve already mentioned above – is the need to communicate the needs and aims of the project to the team from day one. If you can nail that down, you make your job of delivering the project within the time and budget restraints infinitely easier.

This, along with the many other skills that are required to be a project manager, are greatly streamlined if you are well versed in the selling not only of the product you are working on, but of yourself too.

Why are sales skills important to project managers?

Project Managers need to be skilled at identifying the overarching, strategic objectives for the project, and communicating the information across the relevant touchpoints in the business. By nature, this also includes buy-in from senior management at the beginning of the project, to justify the objectives and subsequent rollout of the project.

To complement your technical ability as the project manager, you also need to ‘sell in’ your strategy for the project. Not only do you need to listen and understand the needs of the company executives, but also the customer at the end point, too.

Simply put, tuning into a “sales mindset” is one that calls on the experience and expertise of a sales professional that in turn makes you attractive to your decision makers internally, or your customers externally, depending on the project. Some of these key sales traits that you should tap into, include:

  1. Relationship Building

Thankfully, this should be an easy one for a project manager, as both salespeople and PMs have this necessary trait in common. Managing stakeholders and keeping them ‘on side’ is a huge differentiator between success and failure in project management.

You should always develop a business relationship first, but part of building a strong relationship is being interested in the people that you work with. For some members of your team, showing an interest in them as a person as well is the key to unlocking trust, respect and appreciation – all things that are needed to achieve a more effective working relationship.

  1. Dealing with Rejection

One thing that is certain in project management is change. Rejection is naturally a part and parcel of being a salesperson, but dealing with a rejection (of sorts) is also applicable to project management. There will always be a number of instances during the five basic phases of a project where you are met with adversity, and you have to change tact. For instance, the budget might exceed your expectations, you might encounter scope creep, or you may have underlying disparity amongst project ambition with the more senior staff.

  1. The Power of Personability

With a sales mindset, you understand that people don’t only buy what they need, but they also buy from who they like. A sales manager’s personal enthusiasm and passion for what they are selling can be the difference in a sale or a missed target. Likewise, your personal enthusiasm when putting across your opinion for the direction of the project can enable the rest of the team to think about the project from a different, more holistic angle.

  1. Your Diligence

In sales, transparency is key. If you were to accurately track your records down to a tee, by logging emails, presentations and phone meetings, you will quickly begin to preempt where there might be budget or scope creep emerging. With this in mind, you should expect to have your project team reviewing these logs and querying why you opted for that particular action on a given day. This inquisitive approach will lead to a better product and likely less scope creep in your project.


So as you can see, incorporating and finessing your sales skills will in turn improve your aptitude as a project manager. As with anything that is worth doing, this will take some time to adapt to and to develop your skills. The best thing about sales is; it’s never really finished.

If you’d like to learn more about project management methodologies, or if you’d like to speak to us on how to finesse those vital sales skills for project managers, and which course would be the best fit for you on your journey, you can contact our friendly team today for more information.

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