Triple Constraint Sales

by Guy Ralfe on May 12, 2010

We had the opportunity to present our business offer to a potential client, whilst it was one client there were 8 delegates attending the meeting and each of those delegates represented an opportunity for future business.

I am a subscriber to the thinking that all employees are in sales; however as a project manager I never used to think of my role as having to conduct sales, yet reflecting back on it a very high proportion of the project management role was balancing the commercial interests of the company with the needs and desires of the customer.

As a project manager you constantly hear the mantra of the triple constraint being mentioned. For those of you not in the know it stipulates that for a successful project the Scope, Cost, Time(Resources) and Quality  (yes four not three axes) have to remain in balance. Any change to one of these axes will result in an impact to one or all of the others.

Since our offer is about sub contracted services it was not hard to think in terms of project management, and I then thought about how the triple constraint also applies to an effective and enticing sales pitch as basically every sale is a project.

Taking each of the axes and assessing them from a sales perspective:

  • Scope – the products and services you offer
  • Cost – the competitive advantage of your products, marginal utility and value to the buyer
  • Time/Resources – structure of your organization and its ability to fulfill on your commitments and obligations, ability to adapt and handle changes
  • Quality – what are your past accomplishments, how have you ensured that the quality will remain when taking on a new sale, your organizational structure, your organizational philosophies and practices?

Just like in a project you have to carefully balance these axes, it is vital that you do the same in managing your business. Customers are looking for good partners all the time, if you can demonstrate through your pitch that you are able to manage and deliver on these axes it provides a very compelling case for any prospect to engage with you.

You may have a superb product but if you have a poor supply chain and are prohibitively expensive you no longer have a balanced offer and you immediately become average.

Remember at all times though that you are presenting for the customers concerns, and in the marketplace average and mediocre are in abundance – there these four axes are not balanced. Just by performing these four key areas well with demonstrated success you will be differentiating your business and make any sales pitch enticing.

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