“Powin’s Technical Sales and Project Manager (TS-PM) position offers limitless growth opportunity as a seller and supporter of leading edge battery energy storage systems. The TS-PM is an integral team member with the responsibility to assess new market opportunities and support the advancement and completion of captured projects in coordination with various internal teams. The TS-PM will engage with customers and the company through oversight at all stages of project development and ongoing reporting.” – Indeed.com

The above is just one of dozens of examples at any given time of positions that are available for people who have both sales and project management training.

The Salesperson’s Ace in the Hole

What might once have been called an account manager has morphed into a project management role. The salesperson will do more than make the sale; she will also guide the project to completion.

Rather than simply calling the client to make sure they’re happy, the salesperson will meet the criteria of a project manager. 

A closer look at the responsibilities shows that many of the elements of the position are drawn from the PMP/CAPM list of knowledge.

  • Lead the response to all RFPs concerning product and/or projects
  • Serve as a customer point of contact for questions and information
  • Become a renewable energy, distributed resources, energy markets, and energy storage subject matter expert
  • Identify possible new customer, vendor, and partner relationships
  • Nurture established customer, vendor, and partner relationships
  • Represent the company at customer and stakeholder meetings, conferences and trade shows
  • Monitor activity in the energy storage space and share insights to assist with shaping business development strategy
  • Manage delivery of materials and equipment, project timelines, budget, and performance of subcontractors for Powin projects
  • Attend and preside over weekly project management and design meetings (Ibid.)

Each of the bolded items shows up in the PMP/CAPM exam. The knowledge of and certification as a project manager would likely go a long way to aiding making a great salesperson stand out from the crowd.

What if your experience is in sales, not project management?

Becoming a Project Management Professional (PMP), a certified PM, you need years of experience doing project management. If your experience is more on the sales side than the PM side, you can still get certification.

The Certified Assistant Project Manager (CAPM) is a certification that anyone can get even without any project management experience.

The requirements for the CAPM certification are easier for anyone to achieve. It only requires some formal training which can be had via PMTI or elsewhere. 

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 1,500 hours of professional experience on a project team

OR

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 23 contact hours of formal education

Do I need certification for this type of sales job?

No. According to this job listing, you don’t need a PMP or CAPM certification to apply and win the position.

Increasingly, however, there will be more positions that require PMP certification. As this professional certification becomes the norm, it will become as ubiquitous as a bachelor’s degree.

Are there other benefits to the CAPM/PMP for this position?

One of the advantages to the CAPM is that you’ll gain the experience needed to sit for your PMP exam. Over the years, you’ll be able to list the projects that you’ve completed and use those to take the more valuable PMP exam. 

If you have a PMP certification and sales experience, it will make you stand head and shoulders above any competitors.

One other benefit is that you’ll find yourself able to transition from sales to project management full time. While that might not be an immediate goal, project management positions are far more likely to weather the storm of an economic downturn than sales positions. Counterintuitively, companies tend to cut the number of people selling at a time when they want to be making more sales. Any projects that they’re working on, though, will likely have been paid for earlier. It will be doubly important in a down economy to come in on-time and on-budget.

Making more money with a PMP or CAPM certification

On average, a CAPM makes $10,000 per year more than their competitors and PMP makes $20,000 a year more. Those numbers apply specifically to project management positions, but it’s reasonable to assume that one can make more money with a certification under their belt. 

Sales and Project Management – A trend that will continue

It seems like that the trend of having salespeople also handle their own project management will continue. It’s efficient. Customers have built trust with their salesperson. Letting them handle the entire process, start to finish, will keep the customer happy.

For the salesperson, it will ensure that the work is done to a specific standard. They can guarantee that their reputation isn’t tarnished by a team of contractors or workers who don’t do the job right. 

There is also a clear symbiotic relationship between sales and project management. If the sales team aren’t making sales, there are no projects to manage. If they are, there might not be enough of the project manager to go around.

The smart move for the company hiring sales/PM staff

The smartest move will be to have every one of the salespeople PMP- or CAPM-certified. In the long run, it’s not an expensive project. Once a new hire has made a few sales and co-managed a couple of projects, the companies should sponsor their attendance to a Bootcamp similar to the ones that PMTI provides. Each class is designed to meet the formal training requirement of the PMP or CAPM exams, as well as get the attendees ready for the exam. 

More than that, it helps to guarantee that every project will be handled professionally and in accordance with global project management standards. If everything is being done correctly, one project manager can stand in for another, simply because all the documentation will reflect where the project is at and who will need to do what to get it all done.