Complex Sales Projects: Your Job is to Manage Them

Last Updated Apr 6, 2010 2:01 PM EDT

Sales Machine reader "wesdillon" asks:
How can I keep multi-phase projects on track that stretch out over 6 to 9 months? I'll have clients sign on, complete the first phase and then not have the urgency to move toward completion. Our professional service contracts can get bogged down and I find my pipeline choked with 1/2 finished projects and I'm back in the account trying to re-start the project.
Your problem is that those projects don't have a project manager driving them. That's because you haven't figured something out -- that YOU are the project manager.

Yeah, I know that you think of yourself as a sales guy. But that's not how your customers think of you. They're hiring you as an outsourcing manager to take responsibility for the entire project. And you're pretending that they're going to manage the project themselves.

So it's no wonder that the contracts get "bogged down." That will continue until you step up to the bar and take responsibility for making sure everything happens.

The best way to do this is to write a project plan for each project. That plan should document the different stages, deadlines, milestones, metrics and measurements. Get agreement from the customer that the document reflect how things are supposed to proceed.

Now take those deadlines and milestones and put them in YOUR calendar. Then schedule enough time to check the progress of the project and to take corrective action if something goes amiss.

While that seems like a lot of work, it's probably less work than what you're currently doing, which is letting the project fall into decrepitude and then trying to revive it.

READERS: Any further suggestions?