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Project Management

Why Project Planning During Sales Pays Off with HubSpot

September 27, 2020 By René de Jong

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For Professional Services, it’s critical to both understand and optimize your flow from deal to cash. 

The basic concept of deal to cash implies that delivering sales service and success does not stop at closed won. 

Far from it. The cycle is not complete until money is in the bank. 

By making your flow from deal to cash more efficient, you can implement tactical ways to get paid faster and deliver better results for clients. 

For HubSpot users, this means executing your project management tools DURING the sales process.

Not after the deal is won.

This will help you get from deal to cash faster and make the handoff from sales to project management significantly easier and more transparent.

Perfecting the Sales to Project Management Cycle

Now, if you’re a business owner and not a salesperson, you might not always have a full team to support a robust sales process or an agile project management system.

For example, even though sales, project management, and invoicing may be all-in-one in a smaller organization, their processes and systems to facilitate these areas are usually scattered and ultimately inefficient.

The result? Money is likely being left on the table.

But there’s a concrete, actionable way to streamline deal to cash —

The easiest way to increase revenue immediately is to set up your current opportunities and projects for success. 

How do you do it? Start project planning BEFORE the deal has reached closed won. It’s going to save you time, get you from deal to cash faster, and keep your clients and your team happy.

Check out our 3 arguments as to why project planning during sales pays off with HubSpot. Through our own experience with HubSpot and project management (and integrating the two), we know that implementing these three steps is the most effective way to get your project planning off the ground WHILE the sales process is still happening:

  1. Map the project.
  2. Identify project milestones.
  3. Make communication solid and transparent between sales and project managers.

It’s all about efficiency. That’s the name of the game. See how you can use forward thinking and a bit of planning to get from deal to cash faster with HubSpot and leave less money on the table.

1.   Mapping the project during the HubSpot sales process to help define scope.

By starting to line up your project management during the sales process, you’ll be able to get a higher level of clarity as to the true scope. This sets clear expectations for the client and the team that will be servicing them, usually resulting in happier clients and increased lifetime customer value. Always a good thing.

Lifetime customer value

Lifetime customer value is what keeps clients paying you, trusting you, and referring you. For small businesses, it’s even more critical to get these lifelong clients to be a somewhat reliable segment of their revenue stream. By providing long-term value to any client, you solidify your reputation as an individual or business that doesn’t just complete jobs and tasks.

Rather, your focus is on providing real value to the business holistically.

Once a client knows your organization is focused on providing them tangible value for their business versus a list of deliverables, you can often retain them for life. Mapping out your project during sales can help you get and keep more clients like this. Aka the ones you want!

Avoid scope creep...or at least manage it better.

Mapping your project before it technically becomes a project also can prevent dreaded scope creep. 

"Scope creep is just what it sounds like — when additional features, functions, time, etc. are necessary to complete the project beyond the agreed-upon scope."

If you’ve been there, you know often it’s a slow, sneaky process (hence the word ‘creep’), where issues and additional work pop up at the beginning of the project. And then toward the end, it can end up a hot mess.

If you do inevitably end up in a scope-creep scenario, mapping out your project beforehand while still in the sales pipeline in HubSpot will at least help you manage it better. You’ll be able to better anticipate overages and keep your time and resources within a reasonable capacity.

Forecasting

Perhaps the greatest benefit of mapping out your project while still in the sales process in HubSpot is that it gives you the ability to forecast more accurately. If your project is planned out before the official handover from sales, production teams can begin forecasting resources based on opportunities in the sales pipeline. 

And while adept forecasting is vital across pretty much all industries, it’s especially critical for smaller professional services organizations.

For PSOs, accurate revenue forecasting will mean you have the right amount of people and a good service mix to offer. Inaccurate forecasts can result in having too many team members or not enough to complete a project. It can also affect the morality of team members and even the client experience. Bad news bears. 

In a nutshell, forecasting is too important to not devote the significant attention it needs. But the best way to do it is to get in the game early, BEFORE the sales-to-project handoff. You and your organization will be able to better predict the true cost of the project and allocate the resources that will lead to improved sales and client success.

2.   Developing project milestones during sales improves invoicing rate.

No, it’s not too early! Before your deal is won, it’s a fantastic productivity hack to go ahead and develop your project milestones. Organizations that take this step early are more likely to have a better invoicing rate —

Meaning, they’re more likely to get paid. On time.

Unclear milestones or even methods for tracking time and material expenses can disrupt the ability to invoice on time or at all. This is especially true if contract vs project vs billing milestones are not fully aligned.

A great way to solve this conundrum is to use templates that map across — or provide a missing link to — all the separate systems you’re using to manage sales, project management, and financials.

For example, PSOhub acts like an actual ‘hub’ that sits right in the middle of HubSpot (sales), Teamwork (project management), and Quickbooks (invoicing). A smart, self-driving solution like PSOhub or others on the market will be worth its weight in gold to you for arguably their greatest benefit. A benefit that will empower you to create project milestones before the deal even gets handed off — integrations.

Integrations

If you want to develop project milestones at this early a stage, you’re going to need some sort of solution that connects HubSpot with your project management and your financials. You need your project management to talk to sales and your bookkeeping software. And the more you can integrate your contract management and timekeeping solution, the better off you’ll be.

By keeping these moving parts connected under an organized digital roof, you’ll get the visibility you need to create realistic milestones and budget for them accordingly.

Bottom line- Milestones and a time tracking solution for all team members should be established BEFORE the handoff from sales to project management. As long as you have an integrated solution(s) and really good communication between your sales and project side, this isn’t a hard task to pull off.

And it will pay dividends in efficiency.

3.   Communication between and sales and project managers is KEY as the deal progresses.

This one is a bit obvious, and project managers in their own right can have a ton of trouble delivering if communication is lacking on the project side of things. 

But what we’re highlighting here is the communication between the salespeople winning deals in HubSpot and the project managers who must then take that deal and deliver the results.

"We’re arguing that while traditionally project management and sales are thought to be separate entities, it’s a really bad idea to have them siloed in your organization. They should be working together." 

If you can streamline the communication between sales and projects and keep the lines open, both teams can play to each other’s strengths. Getting the project people in at the ground level while the deal is still being won is the best way to do it.

How you do it is largely up to you.

Whether it’s having a deals dashboard that is visible to all team members or using certain automation triggers to alert project managers of likelihood to close and project requirements ahead of time, your team should be able to flip a lead into a client seamlessly.

When communication and effective knowledge management are in place, it will get easier and easier.

Knowledge management

Facilitating open and effective communication between your sales and project teams is an exercise in what’s called knowledge management.

Knowledge management isn’t rocket science but it’s critical for any organization, particularly on the sales side.

And again, knowledge management is exactly what it sounds like — creating and distributing knowledge and information across an organization.

So everyone knows what they’re doing, why, and possesses all the knowledge they need to do their jobs, whether it’s the salesperson, the out-of-town developer or designer, or your project manager.

To get from deal to cash faster, effective knowledge management that focuses on the bridge or handoff between project and sales will help you win every time. It will ensure that the sales goals are understood by your project people and vice versa.

Want an easy knowledge management solution?

Provide templates for effective communication between sales and project management that homes in on the type of information they need to be sharing with one another, like budgets, roadmaps, and more.

There are multiple software solutions that can help you out, but unless you integrate sales and projects on a person-to-person level as well, you’ll always have problems with the handoff. So make sure you’re personally facilitating this more holistic approach until everyone is on board. 

Efficiency and harmony

While like all the steps, this last one is about increasing your efficiency, it’s really more about harmony than anything else. The more you can effectively manage the knowledge and communication between your sales and project sides, the greater harmony you’ll have from deal to cash.

And for PSOs, more harmony almost always equates to better work, happier clients and team members, and more revenue. It’s what we’re all after! 

Get from deal to cash faster. Period.

"It’s simple — if you want to get from deal to cash faster, don’t put off project planning until after the deal is won."

Instead, get your process streamlined and begin the project management side of things while you’re still in the deal pipeline in HubSpot.

To reiterate, it’s not difficult and will set you up to save time and money once you begin project execution.

Just remember these three steps to keep things harmonious and efficient BEFORE closed won: 

  1. Begin project mapping.
  2. Create project milestones.
  3. Facilitate easy communication between sales and project managers that makes everything transparent.

If you’re invested in finding ways to streamline your deal-to-cash cycle (and you should be), try our recipe for project planning kickoff during the sales process in HubSpot. You can find project management solutions online that range from free to expensive that will integrate with the HubSpot ecosystem. The world is your oyster!

Feel free to share if these steps worked for your organization, or you’ve found some cool, creative ways to make the sales-to-project handoff even better.  

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