Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

How to Sell Function, Feature and Benefit to Stakeholders

~ By John Reiling

Womans hands pointing to the resources of a project

Top executives and stakeholders are often "sold" certain projects from within the organisation. This normally happens, where a sales team first handles a project and then later assigns it to a project manager who "inherits" it.

The concept here is that the selling to the stakeholders actually continues once the project manager takes over. Because of this reality, the project manager must to some extent use sales skills and continue to build (and even sometimes repair!) the relationships with the stakeholders.

Most projects have numerous and diverse stakeholders. One of the first tasks of the project manager is to identify those stakeholders and establish a working rapport with them. The starting point must be to clarify expectations, initially set when the project was "sold" and to refine those expectations for the next phase. The project manager, in the end, must ensure that stakeholder needs are understood and will be met. In addition, systems must be put into place to ensure that they are providing regular input and feedback in the process of delivering the project. The project manager must continue to be attentive to stakeholder needs throughout the project, and there are a number of techniques for doing that.

One way that project managers can leverage sales skills to establish stakeholder relationships is to think in terms of features, functions, and benefits. Typically, there is one and occasionally a few stakeholders that are critical to the project. They may have a major benefit related to the core benefits of the project. In all likelihood, the project manager will be in touch with these select stakeholders on a very regular basis, and they will be included in most communications. The project manager keeps in mind the driving benefits that they want, and continuously communicates about the delivery of those benefits.

Since there are typically many other stakeholders, there often is a stakeholder who is not necessarily going to be one of the top beneficiaries of the project. By contrast, many stakeholders will benefit in peripheral ways, or, if they might benefit by avoiding integration issues that could result when the new project is implemented. Perhaps there is a data interface to that system that will enhance the system, or will at least permit the application to continue to be effective and relevant.

One way to think about these secondary stakeholder, like the primary stakeholders, is to think in terms of feature, functions, and benefits. Core stakeholders may see these features as covering all of the project's potential results; for the peripheral stakeholders, however, these features may be only a couple to a few. The key in using this thought pattern is to look at the features related to that stakeholder, break those features down into the important functions that those features bring to the table, and then as the final step, break down those functions into the actual tangible benefits that will be derived by that stakeholder.

As a first step, all stakeholders need to be identified, and their needs must be understood. With this information at hand, the key then is to think through the features, functions, and benefits of the project to each and every stakeholder, and to communicate that to each stakeholder. A side benefit is a much deeper understanding of the project, and even an expansion of the broader benefits of the project to the organisation.

By thinking in terms of features, functions, and benefits for each stakeholder, a project manager can train himself to think in the terms of the stakeholders. This helps to recognise specific issues that need to be communicated to specific stakeholders, and also helps to identify the issues that are unimportant to stakeholders. Thus, it will helps to always think and speak of your stakeholder needs or interests. In order to properly deal with stakeholders, you must think and act like a salesperson would.


John Reiling, PMP, has experienced portfolio, programme, and project management in organisations of all sizes. John's website Project Management Training Online provides numerous courses on these topics for PDUs, PMP Prep, and PgMP Prep. See John's related article on Programme Management with a nice graphic on the topic, at John's blog, PMcrunch.com.


Advertisement


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
What is the day after Thursday?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Risk Management Options

Risk management written on a puzzle piece

Risk management is an ongoing process to identify potential problems that could arise when new projects occur within a business.

Project Management Checklists

Checklist

Checklists are underused in the planning and managing of projects. Here is a high level twelve-point checklist for use during project planning.

How to Become a Project Manager

Senior lecturer in front of his class

If you're new to project management don't be bamboozled by all the jargon. This article sets out the skills needed to become a competent project manager.

Stepping Up SMART Goals

What are your goals question in vintage wooden letterpress printing blocks

Here are some strategies and six simple steps for making sure your goals will be concise, clear, and produce the results for which you are looking.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

David commented on…
Project Plans: 10 Essential Elements
- Mon 11 December 10:51pm

Chipoyera - Risk Manager commented on…
RAID Log
- Thu 7 December 7:49am

Horace Lindsay commented on…
Project Leader or Project Manager, Which One Are You?
- Mon 4 December 10:04am

Latest tweets

Project Plans: 10 Essential Elements https://t.co/dKCVsrSG1J #projectsmart #pmot about 6 days ago

General Project Management • Re: What degree should I choose to further my career? https://t.co/SoRiB3S9MX #projectsmart #pmot about 25 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Project management software for personal use? https://t.co/nl3aO2i0Oh #projectsmart #pmot about 28 days ago