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EPC Projects – Sales Managers and Project Managers – Who is the Key?


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  1. In most EPC companies, sales and project management are two distinct departments that reports to the Business head.
  2. Sales Managers are responsible for the TOP line of the financials, i.e. orders booked.
  3. Most business heads will generally not let go of a prospective order as the TOP line is important for growth targets.
  4. Sales Managers often receive support and clearances to conclude sales by agreeing to customers conditions and specifications.
  5. Risks and opportunities identified during the sales phase cannot be fully provided for the pricing and so most projects are sold with substantial unprovided risks and minimum margins.
  6. Project Managers are tasked with delivering what is sold and to improve margins- i.e. they provide the “BOTTOM LINE” of the financials.
  7. Under the above circumstances, several points come up.
  • Which of the above two functions is preferred to head a business when an opportunity arises?

In most companies, sales deals/contracts are signed and finalized at the highest management levels. Project Managers being responsible for revenues and margins are in focus during quarterly financial reviews by TOP management, thus both sales and project managers have opportunities to interact with TOP management. Preference between these functions thus is more based on individual traits and abilities.


  • What is the skill sets for each of the above functions?

Sales Managers have to communicate with clients without being disagreeable even when a particular specification requirement cannot be met. Often customers (especially government clients) do not like to meet vendors during bidding process. Sales Managers have to work around such obstacles and address issues. Project Managers on the other hand are “the go getters”. As team leaders, they must ensure that decisions are communicated in a timely and clear manner to the team. It is necessary for them to have good communication skills when communicating with clients and external parties. Sales Managers need persuasive skills.


  • What are the challenges for each of the functions?

Sales Managers have order booking targets, but unfortunately, they cannot control the order placement dates as clients dictate them. Unlike, Project Managers, they cannot seek any remedies from clients for delayed orders. If there is a no go issue during sales, the parties have an option to walk away. However, Project Managers cannot walk away as they need to face an arbitrator if they do not settle a dispute or disagreement.



These two functions have to interact and complement each other right from the beginning of the sales process, so that the risk levels are known to each other and to management. Then Project Manager has to deliver what the Sales Manager sells, but the Sales Managers can only sell what the Project Execution Team can deliver. The guiding factor that requires these two functions to work together is the “client’s requirements and market competition”.

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