Picture this: your sales team spends hours prospecting and qualifying leads. They conduct a needs assessment test to create a convincing pitch tailored to the prospect’s pain points. Once the deal is closed and the documentation is done, they complete the handoff to the service team.
While it may not look like it in theory, in real life it's a lengthy process that can get out of control and hurt your progress if you don’t have streamlined workflows to guide the team.
Here, sales project management is a vital solution to boost your team's collaboration and productivity. It promises greater organization for your existing setup and efficiently empowers the team to close more deals. In essence, it's a cornerstone of sales ops.
This article takes a deep dive into sales project management to explain why it matters and how to properly make it work for your team. Stick with us till the end, and we'll reveal five best practices you can leverage to get the best possible results.
What is project management?
Project management is the process of planning and executing a project by leveraging all available resources and streamlining how things are done.
A project includes a set of goals, multiple tasks and a roadmap to complete these tasks — the project management framework synthesizes all these elements so that you can get things done well and on time.
In the sales context, project management involves:
- Defining the goals or targets
- Drafting a plan to achieve these targets
- Allocating every team member’s responsibilities
- Outlining the flow of processes from start to finish
- Creating a progress tracker to build continuous momentum
Now, let's look at five ways your organization can use sales project management to create a seamless sales cycle.
How can teams leverage sales project management?
Project management lays out the to-dos and analyzes possible bottlenecks in order to set up sound processes. This translates into better organization, stronger collaboration and increased productivity.
Here are five top sales project management practices to consider.
1. Boost cross-functional collaboration
A good project management framework seeks to turn any team (or group of teams) into a cohesive unit by helping them collaborate with one another and contribute to individual tasks, without getting lost in the clutter.
Here are a few best practices to ensure your sales team collaborates at a high level.
- Clarify purpose and plan: Collaboration is challenging if your team doesn’t understand (or agree on) what they're working toward. So, define the project's aim and your game plan for achieving this purpose at the outset. This will clarify your team's contribution and maximize everyone’s effort.
- Create standardized operating procedures: The absence of SOPs equals way less consistency and way more confusion. Standard processes for each task explain how to carry out the task and ensure it’s done right — every time. A documentation tool like Scribe makes it easy to auto-generate and share org-wide SOPs and guides that enhance clarity and offer quick resolutions.
- Identify working styles and skillsets: Before delegating responsibilities to each member, carefully review their style of working and strong suits. This way, you can group people with similar working styles together and minimize conflicts. Alternatively, you can group people with diverse skill sets to get more collective inputs.
- Encourage peer-to-peer learning: Managing a project is a continuous cycle of learning and improvement, which creates an avenue for collaboration. But your employees can feel overwhelmed by a massive number of resources that don't answer questions directly. This is where Scribe allows you to build a culture of peer-to-peer learning with interactive, concise and easily shareable guides.
Whether you work remotely or in-person, in a big enterprise or a small group, sales project management can put everyone on the same page and increase productivity tenfold.
2. Systematize the sales pipeline with the right resources
A sales pipeline tracks the movement of leads from one stage to another. It analyzes customer behavior in each stage to modify sales tactics accordingly. To effectively use sales project management, you can rely on a customer relationship management (CRM) tool and strategically systematize your pipeline. Here’s how.
- Workflow visualization: A CRM tool is more than a central source of all customer data. It presents a granular view of each stage in your sales process with a visual outline. A tool like Zoho CRM also color-codes details like lead stage, meetings, and due dates, so you can stay on top of the next steps for every prospect.
- Level of engagement: Each lead is different and so is their interest in your offer. To understand their behavior and tailor your tactics effectively, you have to measure their response to your pitch and follow-ups. A CRM tool allows you to create a separate pipeline based on prospects' levels of engagement.
- Automate tasks: A CRM tool empowers your team to automate repetitive tasks that minimize productivity and help your reps focus more on selling. You can automate admin tasks like sending reminders, setting up meetings, and entering contact data.
- Stage-wise division: Map the sales process to all the stages of project management to streamline your pipeline. Here’s what this division can look like:
Qualification → Initiation
Pitch/Discovery → Planning
Proposal → Execution
Follow-up → Monitoring
Closing → Closure
A CRM tool gives you a complete pipeline overview and makes sales forecasts more accurate. You can also monitor your team's progress and pinpoint any weak points.
3. Build better alignment between goals and game plan
Your team can only put in top-level effort when they know what they're working toward. It's crucial to decide on your objectives at the outset instead of finalizing the goals as you progress. Once listed down, you can review these objectives to see if they're best aligned with your team's capabilities and alter them if needed.
Defining your goals initially allows you to map out the steps and resources required to meet them. After you've formulated a game plan to achieve these goals, you're all set to visualize the tasks, add due dates, assign task owners and designate priority levels.
Here are a few handy steps to align your goals with your plan and get the best out of your team:
- Find your north star: Assess past performance to understand your team’s capabilities. Take a closer look at the sales forecast and set realistic goals accordingly.
- Loop in all stakeholders: Discuss your objectives with all the stakeholders involved in the sales cycle — from the head of sales to the frontline sales reps.
- List down all deliverables: Once your goals are in place, list all the tasks or steps required to reach them.
- Create a shareable plan: Use a project management tool like Asana or ClickUp to organize your plan and share it with the entire team.
Sales project management builds a more vital link between your objectives and execution strategy to prioritize your resources and get the expected results.
4. Multiply efficiency with streamlined communication
Communication is the biggest rule of any project management framework. Once you’ve finalized the plan to streamline your workflows, shift your focus to building a seamless communication setup for the entire organization.
Your team uses Slack for internal communication and email and calls for discussions with external stakeholders. Your reps also use different tools for prospecting, documentation, lead tracking, relationship management, social selling, and follow-ups. That's too much noise for the team to focus on their primary responsibility—selling.
Let's look at some ways in which project management can make communication simple:
- Prepare a communication framework: Set the right context for team communication. Define the kind of communication needed for every deliverable—like reports required on a fortnightly basis. Create conventions to answer the "how, what and whom" of org-wide communication.
- Define the frequency of updates: Closely tied to the first point is the importance of fixing the frequency of updates from your team. Your CRM or any other project management tool can present a clear picture of the current situation. So, let your team share progress updates only after certain predefined intervals.
- Reduce reliance on meetings: You ever think to yourself “this could have been an email”? Conducting meetings for everything is a recipe for disaster. Give reps the freedom to chalk out their routine the way they want.
A practical communication framework allows for greater collaboration by removing any bottlenecks in your internal processes. You can also deliver more consistent information to external stakeholders — courtesy of a consistent communication system.
5. Maintain a seamless schedule to shorten sales cycles
Every member of your sales team works at their own pace and style. When you consolidate these diverse approaches to work, the result is a dynamic team working in sync. So, what’s the best way to integrate your team’s capabilities with project management? Simple — an extensive workback schedule.
A workback schedule essentially creates milestones and assigns timelines for each milestone. This gives the team enough resources to plan their progress and maintain accountability simultaneously.
Here are a few standard steps to keep in mind when deciding the milestones for your sales team:
- Prospecting and outreach.
- Needs assessment for all the prospects.
- Pitching and lead nurturing.
- Sharing a proposal.
- Scheduling follow-ups.
- Processing the sale.
- Post-purchase documentation.
Once you lay out tentative deadlines for each step, your team can create their own schedule to complete each one As your team becomes more accustomed to the process, you’d inevitably see the results in a shortened sales cycle.
Boost your team’s productivity with sales project management
First, think of your sales funnel as a project. You can then designate different funnel stages as milestones in a project. From there, it's easy to leverage sales project management practices and skyrocket your ROI.
Use the five best practices listed in this article to guide your sales strategy. Build better collaboration, increase overall efficiency and ultimately close more deals using a project management framework. It's easy to get started—outline your goals and lay down a roadmap to reach these objectives.