Do you love crushing sales goals and being part of new development? Are you the type of person who wants to make a direct contribution to the agency you work for?
If you answered an enthusiastic “YES” to these questions, a sales project manager position may be right up your alley.
For projects to succeed, they need strong leaders to manage timelines, work well with teams, and solve problems that could impact the deliverable. This role isn’t for everybody.
Let’s unpack the aspects of a sales project manager position and talk about what it takes to become one.
What is a sales project manager?
Project management is the process of planning, executing, monitoring, revising, and delivering a project. Sales project management is similar, but only concerns sales functions.
Some examples of sales projects are:
Upselling current clients
Gaining more prospects
Reducing the time it takes to close sales
In each case, the sales project manager plans timelines, directs stakeholders, monitors tasks, and drives the project to reach a successful outcome.
Potential career trajectory in sales project manager jobs
Many sales project managers are former high-performing salespeople who deeply understand the sales process. They may have also held positions in customer support or marketing.
A sales project manager gains priceless experience that can help them in their career path. Depending on the agency, they may get promoted to senior project managers, directors, or vice presidents.
What does a sales project manager do?
This position comes with heavy responsibilities that play a major role in an agency’s success.
Coordinate sales strategies and campaigns
Formulating and executing sales strategies is at the heart of the role. A sales project manager must use internal and external factors when building out their plans. They need to understand the market (including the agency’s main competitors), customers and their needs, and internal capabilities.
Using project management software is priceless for facilitating this process.
Manage client interactions and ensure satisfaction
“Turn your revenue funnel into an hourglass by tracking how Customer Success affects revenue.”
~Aaron Ross, Co-CEO of Sales Revenue and author of multiple sales books
Sales hinges on being able to establish trust and build relationships with clients. As a result, understanding their needs and pain points can directly impact your agency’s success.
Sales project managers have to create plans around the targeted client. Studying current happy customers and asking for feedback are smart ways to refine the sales strategy and ensure the project is vibing with what they really want.
Oversee a team of sales professionals
Leading, mentoring, and managing a team takes up the majority of a sales project manager’s time. They need to communicate well with the sales team and be able to motivate them to buy into the project and perform their tasks efficiently.
Keeping track of team members can be challenging, so the manager needs to keep the big-picture goal in front of them. Also, they must consistently highlight how each person’s contribution impacts the final result.
Align with other departments
The role’s cross-functional nature requires the manager to work beyond the sales team’s boundaries. They may need to frequently bring the marketing, information technology, and client success teams into projects. This can be a challenging prospect.
Being in sync with other groups is crucial for sales projects to succeed. It falls to the sales project manager to finesse these partnerships. Project management software like Teamwork.com offer collaboration and communication features to smooth the way for multiple departments to align.
Track and report on sales project progress
Sales project managers must steer the ship to reach the objective on time. Instead of setting the plan and crossing your fingers, monitoring and analyzing project progress offers a chance to catch and neutralize issues before they become major obstacles.
Time tracking, looking at multiple task and workforce management views, and setting milestone benchmarks offer insightful guidance into a sales project’s evolution.
Ensure sales projects stay on budget
Following a budget is an essential component of any task. Sales project managers must make every effort to contain costs. They can do this by:
Using automation: By automating repetitive tasks, team members stop wasting time on tedious work and focus on high-value activities.
Employing time tracking: Knowing what each person is working on helps get the most productivity. It also ensures you can bill for every minute.
Leverage notifications: Set notifications when spending reaches a predetermined threshold so costs don’t sneak up on you.
Essential skills a sales project manager needs
As you can imagine, this role requires hands-on experience and sharply honed soft skills. While no set list of traits and strengths automatically guarantees a person will be a successful sales project manager, here are some that make the job easier.
Projects need buy-in — which comes primarily from the manager’s ability to motivate every stakeholder. Leadership skills are necessary to engage the team and get them to take ownership of their role.
Since they work with their department, other departments, and clients, sales project managers must have excellent communication skills.
Explaining plans, sharing updates, laying out changes, and fostering team collaboration are some examples of the communication successful projects need.
While sales project managers need management skills, those with a sales mindset perform the best. This means they think and behave (to a point) like a sales representative.
Possess intense self-motivation.
Anticipate customer needs.
Understand a salesperson’s needs.
Offer in-depth knowledge of the project or service.
Excel at reading people.
Know how to relate tasks to overall success.
Thrive under pressure.
This role is more chess than checkers. Great sales project managers can handle the present while also looking several steps ahead.
Sales project managers can use this foresight and planning to anticipate significant situations that may offer more opportunities or pose threats to the project. This can include:
Changing sales trends
Resource shortages or overages
Examining issues and figuring out solutions will always be at the top of a sales project manager’s job description. Plans are never set in stone, and there will always be pesky challenges and inevitable obstacles.
To keep a project on track, sales project managers must bob and weave with a proactive approach to problem-solving.
Technology is every manager’s friend. Without it, they don’t have as much visibility into the project, can’t track its performance granularly, and won’t be able to access metrics as easily to manage success.
Being comfortable using software tools and apps to manage all facets of a project is absolutely critical.
Project management tools like Teamwork.com, sales software like Salesforce, collaboration platforms like Slack, and customer relationship management (CRM) software like HubSpot save time, increase efficiency, and offer insight that helps keep projects on time and within budget.
Sales project managers must have a keen concept of time to ensure they meet the end goal. They must:
Understand how much time each task within the project needs.
Set and have all stakeholders adhere to a schedule.
Monitor and potentially reassign workloads based on each stakeholder’s time availability.
Estimate timelines to be able to set realistic milestones.
Find ways (like software and automation) to save time and increase productivity.
Trying to digest an end-to-end project scope can be overwhelming, which is why project managers need to be organized.
Building and using strong organizational skills helps them manage their workload and know how to break down big tasks into smaller, manageable chunks for team members.
Segmenting projects into tasks — and then segmenting tasks into stages with milestones — keeps everyone focused on their specific assignments and helps the project move forward efficiently.
The path to becoming a sales project manager
Sales project managers typically work full-time. Requirements for this role vary by the agency. Larger agencies frequently require more education and years of experience than smaller ones.
Most of the time, agencies require sales project managers to hold a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field. Specific courses in business administration, sales, and project management benefit this role.
Hands-on experience and an impressive sales and project management track record is the most sought-after combination of experience for a sales project manager role.
Previous work in customer service, marketing, and project management can also help land the position.
Necessary certifications or training
The various certifications and specialized training that can provide an edge on this career path are:
Boost your sales project management expertise with Teamwork.com
Sales project manager positions require individuals who thrive on strategic planning, can communicate well with all types of people, and yearn to make a tangible impact within their agencies.
Successful sales project management demands strong leadership skills, the ability to navigate complex timelines, effective collaboration skills with diverse teams, and adept problem-solving. They also must be comfortable with the technology tools that streamline their efforts.
Speaking of technology…
Teamwork.com is your all-in-one solution for managing agency projects with ease. With our user-friendly platform, informative dashboard, task management, time-tracking features, library of pre-built templates, and robust analytics reporting, we are an invaluable ally to sales project managers.