|Home - Industry Article - Apr 07
Turning Opportunities into Projects and Projects into Opportunities
By Ludwig Melik, Vice President of Sales, Tenrox
Your sales team invests a lot of time managing its pipeline and creating opportunities. CRM solutions today are improving quickly, helping you manage your sales team, your pipeline, forecast sales, and track customer opportunities and service requests. But what happens after opportunities are closed? How can the sales team gain visibility into the services’ or projects’ execution / delivery?
Any organization whose model includes post-opportunity close project and service delivery, needs to create clear communication and reporting channels between its sales and professional services teams. Project delivery and the current status of work have tremendous impact on the sales team. More than 40% to 60% of such a company’s revenues depend on repeat business. The sales organization’s account plans and forecasts depend on their knowledge of the current account and project status.
The issue many organizations face today is that their CRM system is often not linked with other enterprise systems, which results in a huge disconnect between the sales and implementation teams, and presents a challenge for the professional services team to be able to plan work with the right capacity, and then in turn be able to provide the right updates to the sales organization.
The last thing you want to do, as a salesperson, is to call an account and have the client surprise you with positive surprises about their project or painful information and disappointments that catch you completely off guard. This type of situation can alienate and negatively impact the trusted advisor relationship you have worked so hard to build with your customer.
VP of Sales and VP of Client Services and their respective team members need to collaborate in the project and service delivery phase. Any sales executive or account manager also needs to understand how they can assist in making the current deployment successful so that they can better plan future sales activities.
Some of the questions executives would love to get answers to include:
- What does the next quarter look like
- What is our projected revenue recognition and cash flow
- Which clients / engagements are generating the most revenue / margins
- Where can I get a consolidated view of sales forecasts and status of engagements
- Can I get this information in real-time to make quicker business decisions
Some of the questions Account Managers would love to get answers to include:
- What’s the status of my customer projects
- What accounts are active, what’s the status
- Are they happy
- Is there more business there
- How much has been billed and collected? What is not yet billed and why
Some of the questions the service team would love to get answers to include:
- What is the status and health of our current projects
- What are the project risks and issues
- How much time and resources did we spend on this project
- What new projects are in the pipeline? How do we prioritize them
- Is the scope well defined
- When will they start and when are they due
- How many resources are required
- What skill-sets are required
A project workforce management, which integrates to CRM systems, would help with these questions by providing timely and concise information related to the project and workforce reporting. This would enable real-time collaboration between the sales and service organizations.
The benefits of deploying a project workforce management system, and closely integrating it with your CRM system will allow for sales, service and executive teams have an up-to-date view of project status.
Your Sales Team will
- Gain access to up-to-the-minute information on your customer projects, including key milestones, billing, and invoicing information, projects / service contracts that are nearing completion / renewal dates and project scope change requests that could trigger new opportunities. The sales organization now has full visibility into client engagements from their salesforce.com interface.
Your Project / Service Delivery Team will
- Gain visibility into the sales pipeline so that they can better forecast and plan resources, project start dates, understand what skills and deliverables will be required for upcoming projects, and can expect a more streamlined hand-off process from sales to project launch.
Your Executive Team will
- Have a consolidated dashboard view of your sales funnel and forecasts as well as the status and health of your customer projects / engagements, including detailed financial analysis of cost, billing, and budget information.
As the delivery models change to outsourced teams, virtual teams, and hosted offerings, one thing is for sure, sales is about a lot more than the sales organization closing deals. Team selling is required by communicating and collaborating better to drive an opportunity from the initial need analysis, solution presentation, to closing the deal, and ultimately to project / service delivery. The service and sales teams have visibility to properly hand off the opportunity, to kick off the project and to deliver; all the while exceeding customer expectations largely depends on making sure the right information is communicated at the right time, in a dependable way and to the appropriate individual(s). Spreadsheets, emails, and manual / inconsistent processes will not get you there.
Ludwig Melik is Vice President of Sales of Tenrox. As a co-author of the first book written on “Optimizing Project and Service Oriented Organizations” published by Wiley in 2002, Ludwig demonstrates his extensive knowledge of software products and services for supporting compliance initiatives involving regulations, including Sarbanes-Oxley. He speaks regularly on the subject at various seminars and associations including the Project Management Institute's (PMI) Annual Symposium. Since joining the company in 1997 and as one of 5 partners at Tenrox, Ludwig has worked closely with over 800 Tenrox customers worldwide including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, Hydro Quebec, Invensys, Pioneer Natural Resources, Wilmington Trust, and Wyeth. His leadership has been the driving force behind Tenrox’s success. Ludwig has served on the administration board of software associations and received awards for his accomplishments and contribution to the community. For article feedback, contact Ludwig at