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Always Sell Your PMO Services

pmo problem solving project delivery project management Jan 19, 2023
Always Sell Your PMO Services

Sometimes, PMOs and salespeople have a love-hate relationship within organizations. We’re stereotyping here, but generally, PMOs will accuse salespeople of overpromising what can be delivered on a project, or coming in too low on price to get the business. Salespeople, on the other hand, will oftentimes refer to PMOs as the “department of NO” and the reason they are not able to creatively think outside of the box, to get work done faster or cheaper. Over time, most companies will get this dynamic figured out and realize there needs to be a balance between the two teams. 

Regardless of where you are in your relationship with your sales team, we can all learn something from salespeople. What’s that? They are always selling! They constantly work their sales funnels to move leads into prospects, prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. That laser focus is how salespeople get paid, and how cash comes into the company and keeps all of us employed. 

You Need to Constantly Sell Your PMO Services 

“But I’m a PMO. What do I have to sell?” You sell project delivery services. You have the ability to complete projects that integrate into operations and provide a return on investment within the organization. Or, you have the ability to complete projects that delight customers who pay for them and come back for more. If done right, and packaged correctly, you have a LOT to sell. 

Keeping your services top of mind within an organization is especially important for PMOs, which come and go. When the economy gets tough, you may hear of a few people being laid off in finance, or budgets being cut in marketing, but you will not hear that either department has been shut down or eliminated as is the case with PMOs! When belts tighten, the centralized project delivery services that a PMO offers become decentralized and thrown back to individual departments to deliver their own projects. 

That’s why it’s so important to keep selling your project delivery services (aka value creation) to the organization. 

How Do You Sell Your PMO’s Services? 

One theme we have highlighted recently is, “Does your project taste good?” It’s based on the idea that the owner of your favorite pizzeria will come out a couple of times during the meal and ask if your pizza tastes good. Why? Because he’s always selling! If you say the pizza doesn’t taste good, he can fix it, which makes it more likely you’ll come back and order another pizza. If you say the pizza tastes good, he has the opportunity to encourage you to come back again. Either way, the goal is to sell more pizza in the future (aka sales). 

Do you ask your PMO customers if their project tastes good? These customers could be internal project sponsors and executives, or external customers. This question has two outcomes: 

  • No, My Project Doesn’t Taste Good - Uh-oh. We hate to hear that, but we also love to hear that. It means you have an opportunity to fix whatever is wrong with their project. Maybe they are not receiving project updates in the cadence or format they need. Or, maybe some unmanaged risks slipped by that have now turned into issues that negatively impact the project. Whatever the case, we’d rather have them tell us (the people that can do something about it), rather than exaggerate how bad their experience was to others. 
    Will they tell others? Most definitely. Statistics show that dissatisfied customers typically tell nine to fifteen people about their bad experience, and some tell twenty people or more! Plus, when customers are unhappy there’s over a 90% chance they won’t do business with you again. These stats may vary according to how your company is set up, but, just know this… people who have bad experiences feel compelled to tell others about those bad experiences and will eventually make a change. 
  • Yes, My Project Tastes Good - Alright! That’s what we wanted to hear. Take this opportunity to ask what they particularly liked about their project. You may find they appreciated how your PMO made sure the project was operationalized and that business obtained the desired results. Or, that you helped them hold the course and not chase after the next shiny thing before this project was complete. 
    Having the project sponsor or customer reflect on why they liked the project so much is also a powerful selling tool. It reinforces to them that they made the right decision, helps them articulate why they enjoyed working with your PMO, and provides insight to you into how you can provide better service for others in the future. 

Again, one simple question is the way you can keep people coming back for more projects from your PMO. “Does your project taste good?” gets the ball rolling and allows you to adjust to make the experience great for everyone. 

Keep Your PMO in Business 

Deciding if a PMO will make it through tough times or shut down is like deciding whether to eat at your favorite pizzeria or make the pizza yourself. Executives will discuss the value that is being created by the PMO. If the answer that comes back is, “Nobody else can deliver projects like the PMO”, then you’ll stay in business. If the answer is, “Yeah, we can manage our own projects within our own departments better than the PMO”, then you are out of business. It’s as simple as that. Make sure people want to go out to eat by asking, “Did your project taste good?” and you’ll be around for a long time. 

Oh, the next time you see one of your company’s salespersons, take them to your local pizzeria and see how they do what they do. There’s a lot to learn from different disciplines, and sales is a great place to start! 


How to Sell Your PMO Services 

Even PMOs need to sell what they do to stay in business. Correction: Especially PMOs need to sell their services in order to stay in business. Follow these steps to transform your way of thinking to include this essential selling function in all that you do. 

  1. Realize You Need to Sell Your PMO Services - The PMO is an easy department to eliminate when times get tough and headcount needs to be reduced. Keep your selling hat on at all times to make sure you are constantly looking for new and repeat business. 
  2. Understand the Impact of Good / Bad Service - Read articles such as The Secret Ratio That Proves Why Customers Reviews Are So Important, or 107 Customer Service Statistics and Facts You Shouldn’t Ignore to understand how hard it is to dig out from a negative experience with your PMO. These articles are not directly related to PMOs, but the principles are clear. 
  3. Ask People How Their Project Tastes - Ask this one simple question to see how your PMO is doing. The answer will be that their project tastes great or not so good. Either way, it is an opportunity to ask for more business in the future. 
  4. Make Adjustments - If your customer responds with a bad experience, make the reasonable adjustments necessary to make sure they are satisfied. 
  5. Reinforce the Value of Your PMO - Constantly market the value that your PMO offers based upon feedback from your customers. A good question to ask is, “What would this place look like if the PMO wasn’t around?” If the answer is “no different”, then there’s work to be done. 

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