Is your project team a sales team disguised?

This guest post is by Jon Swain, President and CEO of Ten Six Consulting.
It is crucial to have strong project sponsorship in order to ensure that your project is a success. Sponsors have a number of roles. They are responsible for championing the project and the team. This includes ensuring that the project receives the recognition and resources it needs. It’s not just the project sponsor that can shout about the project or spread the word about team achievements.
Your project team can be ambassadors for your project and tell the story about the positive change you are delivering. People worry about using the term “sales” but it’s really about making sure that everyone in the organization hears about the work of the team and the benefits the project is delivering.
Every project manager and team member can be a sales representative disguised. There are many tools you can use to generate interest in your project. Here are five ways to sell the story of your project.
1. Perfect your elevator pitch
You’ve probably heard of an elevator pitch. This is a short statement that summarizes the project and you can use to tell the CEO if you are ever asked about your work.
The elevator pitch should be known by everyone on the project team. It is not necessary to force them to repeat the same phrase verbatim. But they must all be clear about the project’s benefits and goals. To put it another way, each member of the project team should be capable of explaining what they are doing, why it is important, and how it contributes towards the company’s overall goals.
2. Tap into social media channels
Social media tools like blogs and wikis can be very useful within an organization. They can be used as a communication channel other than monthly status reports and can reach a different audience. They offer more interaction than standard communication channels, so you can respond to the comments of the people you’re trying to reach.
To reach the public outside of your organization, you can also use social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook pages. They could also be key stakeholder groups. If you are working on a project in the public sector or an initiative that is highly visible, this could be a great way to tell the story of your project.
3. Your allies are your best friend
The sponsor isn’t the only person who can promote the project. You can tap into the network of your sponsor and find other key employees who can promote the benefits of the project. Ask them to tell their colleagues about the project. You can also invite other people to join your stealth sales team and share the key messages.
4. Ask questions
Selling interest in your project is a selling tactic. One of the best ways for people to get to know what they think about it is to ask questions. Ask your colleagues how your project will benefit them when you meet them at meetings or at internal networking events. You can ask them if they know. If not, you have another chance to tell the world about what you are doing.
It is also an inexpensive way to gain insight into the problems of colleagues. Listening can help you learn a lot. Selling isn’t just about giving information, but listening.
5. Internal PR
This is the traditional way to talk about your project. Make use of all channels within your organization. There is probably a staff magazine. Could you ask the editor to update your project? You can also check out the corporate intranet. You could post regular news about project updates to the intranet page if the PMO or department that will most benefit from the project has one. You can post project updates to most intranets.