Do You Work For Sales, Or Do They Work For You?

Do you work for Sales or do they work for you? The answer to this question depends upon your organization. Many organizations feel that salespeople ‘walk on water’, and these salespeople feel the same way. They feel as if everyone is designed to answer to them and serve their needs. What this translates into is: “Do this”, “Do that”, “I need an update on this”, and “What’s the status of that?”

If they are good, bring in revenue, and grow the client base, they may not necessarily ‘walk on water’; but they are critical to the success of your business. As a Project Manager, you should never allow yourself to work for Sales. You need to have the relationship to be working with Sales.

How do you know if the salesperson has crossed that line mentally, and that they feel as if you, as the Project Manager, work for them? There are two tell-tale signs:

  1. You become responsible for their deliverables. This means they feel as if it is your job to finish up contracts, Statements of Work, and following up on customer deliverables before the contract is signed. This is not your job! Don’t let them put more on your plate than is yours to own. The clear handoff between Sales and Services is when you become engaged, not anytime before.
  2. They start patting you on the back. Now, don’t get me wrong, everyone likes to hear that they have done a good job. But this pat on the back crosses the line and into “I have authority over you and I deem that you have done a good job.” You and your manager know when you have done a good job. You don’t need approval from Sales to tell you.

How can you control this? Once a project has been turned over to Services for delivery, view Sales as just another resource to get the job done. Use Sales for escalations, contract issues, and pricing adjustments, Don’t ever let them start going down the path that you work for them. This becomes an unhealthy, unmanageable, and unpredictable relationship where no good can result.

What are some of the signs you have seen where a salesperson has crossed the line and feels that you, as a Project Manager, work for them?

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