How to Sell a PMO

Robert Maltas

UCSC Extension Spring 2010 PMO Course Student

Are you a senior project manager who just had a request to start a PMO land in their email inbox? If so, follow these suggestions to quick-start your winning PMO proposal.

Who do you have to sell the idea to

Find out who are the key decision-makers and any other people who influence them.  This is the audience to whom you have to sell.

Interview them

What main issues are they trying to solve?  Their goals and objectives?  Rank the issues and goals.  Find out where they currently are and where they want to go.  Ask questions that can lead to other questions and cannot be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’  Employ active listening techniques.

Separate the wheat from the chaff

Some people will already be sold on the concept; others will not.  Spend more of your time/effort on the naysayers.  Elicit their concerns. Put yourself in their shoes and try to envison a solution that takes their concerns into account.  Remember, a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.  Festering concerns can torpedo the pitch for a PMO or at least hobble its implementation.

Use the AIDA selling technique

A — get their ‘attention’

  • Ask questions where the answer will probably be ‘yes’.
  • Are you interested in improving efficiency? Reducing costs?
  • Have you ever wondered about the value of PMOs?
  • Are you noticing what your competition is doing about it?
  • Show them how their competitors addressed those issues with PMOs.

I —  peak their ‘interest’

  • Ask lots of questions and take good notes.
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the client’s business.
  • Educate them on the value proposition of the PMO.

D — create the ‘desire’ to buy-in

  • Show how the PMO will address their issues.
  • Support your assertions with logic — facts and figures.
  • Boil the value perspective down to simple-to-understand daily processes.

A — confirm the ‘action’ to be taken

  • Summarize the issues and how the PMO will address them.
  • Monitor body language for any discomfort; if none, obtain buy-in.
  • If discomfort is sensed, you probably failed to sell the idea.

In summary, failure in your proposal or early efforts is ok as long as it’s upfront and you learn from your failure.  Failure is not ok if it’s long, drawn out, and at the expense of the client’s business.  Remember, you only have one shot to sell the PMO concept so make the best of it!

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