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Agile Practices 101
Combining the established ideas of sales with the software’s agile method, the concept of Agile sales is a new approach to selling that is gaining popularity in companies around the world. While agile is not a new concept (it's been around for almost 20 years!) iIt's one that many businesses have yet to fully understand and implement outside of the IT and software departments. Agile sales is not a new way to sell but a new way for the sales team to work together and find the most efficient way to put the customer first.
Sales and salesmanship are some of earth's oldest concepts. From the earliest bartering systems to today’s complex multi-channel approaches, techniques claiming to be “the best way to sell” have come and gone. Agile sales isn’t a way to sell. It is a way to examine how teams and strategies are working, and find where areas of conflict exist. Whether problems are in tactics, strategies, team communication, or any of the other thousands of processes that your team deals with every day, agile allows your team to continuously work toward improvement. Meaning you can stop wasting time, money, and energy.
Agile sales take some of the key concepts from agile software development (like sprints, standups, retrospectives, and continuous integrations) and use them to improve sales team agility and performance. This article provides an overview of what agile sales is, how it differs from traditional sales methods, and how you can start adapting the agile methodology for your sales team today.
Agile sales methodology is an innovative way of selling that allows you to work faster and better. In this article, we'll explore what it is, how it works, and why it's becoming increasingly popular.
The concept behind agile sales is simple. You work closely together with your customer to understand their needs, find solutions, and close deals. Instead of following a traditional sales process, you use a collaborative method that allows you to make quick decisions and move forward.
In addition to being a fast way to sell, agile sales helps build trust and rapport with customers. By working collaboratively, you're able to learn about your prospects' businesses, challenges, and goals. When you know them well enough, you can help them solve problems and meet their goals.
This type of relationship-building is especially important in today's competitive environment. Customers are looking for partners who can help them succeed rather than just take advantage of them. As a result, the best salespeople are those who are able to connect with people and provide value.
So what’s the pitch? Agile sales helps your team adapt quickly to changing market conditions by being more responsive to customers and prospects than your competitors. Ultimately, responding to changes in demand faster than your competition.
The first step toward becoming more agile is understanding what agile sales means for your organization. Here are three ways that agile sales can help you:
One of the biggest benefits of agile sales is its emphasis on creating a great experience with each new prospect or client. You want to make sure that every interaction with a potential customer is positive and productive by constantly examining new techniques and audiences. That way, when they do become clients, you have already established a good relationship with them.
Increase productivity by making it easier for you to work together as a team. Examine how the team works, spends their time, and where inefficiencies lie. For example, if your sales team is spending more time on documentation than sales, take an agile approach to examine how to maximize your team’s time with customers.
Reduce risk by identifying problems early on. Agile is a collaborative experience. Through consistent team reflection, your team will be better able to recognize and reduce risk and adapt quickly when issues rise outside of accepted standards.
Traditional sales approaches tend to involve long sales cycles, lots of meetings, and high levels of uncertainty. They often require you to spend time preparing proposals and presentations and then waiting for responses. As a result, these approaches are slow and inefficient.
On the other hand, agile sales focus on shortening the sales cycle and increasing responsiveness. To accomplish this, agile sales uses several different techniques, including:
Salespeople who work without an effective agile approach will find themselves unemployed sooner rather than later. Customers are changing. So are you. And it’s up to you to adapt.
Agile sales helps sales teams become focused on what matters most. They can react quickly to changes in markets and adjust their strategies accordingly, resulting in improved customer satisfaction.
Data analysis will help you identify potential opportunities and improve customer service while helping you avoid common mistakes.
Agile sales have many advantages over traditional sales methods. One of the most important ones is that it increases efficiency. When you use agile sales, you can shorten the sales process and improve your overall performance and team learning. It will ultimately help your team makes identify and test opportunities to stay ahead of your competition while reducing the amount of time spent on repetitive tasks.
Salespeople are often asked how agile sales can help them succeed. There are many ways that you can use agile sales techniques to improve your performance. Here are some ideas that we've found helpful.
Your salespeople will know what it is they're accountable for and whom they report to. If they don't know exactly what they're supposed to do, they won't feel like they can take action.
This helps your salespeople plan out their day ahead of time. They can see where they're headed and make sure they have everything they need along the way.
When everyone works together, there is less chance of things falling through the cracks. Everyone knows what needs to happen and who else is responsible for making it happen.
While there are forms of agile that focus on strict rules and procedures, agile is ultimately about adaptability and continuous improvement. So what will work for one organization may not fit for another. However, there are some basic guidelines.
The keystone of agile is sprint-based timelines. Instead of waiting for the end of projects, quarters, or annual meetings, agile sales teams meet on a regular cadence (sprints) to discuss issues and possible action items to take into the next sprint-whether that sprint is a day, a week, the traditional two weeks, or longer. At the end of the sprint, teams meet to see what progress has been made and what next steps need to be.
The most successful agile teams take on not just the agile method and values, but the agile mindset. Similar to a growth mindset, agile shifts focus from a perfect end product to creating a working system and continuously improving on ongoing issues. At the end of each sprint, teams meet for a retrospective to examine what is working, and what still needs improvements.
It isn’t about making the best choice or the perfect product. Agile sales teams-and agile teams in general- view every action item, every strategy, every change as an experiment. Maybe the outcome is great, maybe it is a disaster. But it is the willingness to look at the data, make an informed decision, and try something new -even if the outcome isn’t guaranteed.
While agile sales teams may not require formal scrum masters, backlogs, or sprint planning meetings, they focus on making decisions quickly, and forward momentum is shared with the original agile concepts.
If you are wondering how to implement agile sales for your team, here are a few ways to get started.
Ensure that everyone on the team recognizes why the team is implementing an agile approach and what that will look like for each team member. There are many different approaches in agile software development, each with its own set of rules and guidelines. You don't want to jump into it blindly; you need to know what you're getting into.
Communication is key to executing your strategy. Your entire team should be involved in defining the goals and creating the roadmap. However, once the plan is complete, you'll need to make sure that everyone knows what they're supposed to do and when.
Saying, “hey, we are going to start agile. Plan for your first retro and standup tomorrow” will give everyone a wave of anxiety even if they like the concept. Make sure everyone on your team understands how each ceremony is run, the goals of each meeting, and what a successful agile transformation would look like for the organization.
Use team and organizational retrospectives and data to establish feedback loops within the respective groups.
Give teams the autonomy and tools to follow through on experiments and action items they establish. The privacy and information teams share in their stand-ups and retrospectives should be respected. If action items are shared outside of the team, ensure that those action items are heard and addressed whenever possible.
We have mentioned sprints a few times, but sprints can be hard when projects and sales cycles are continuously running and overlapping. So, what does this mean for a sales team to work in sprints?
If you've ever worked in a traditional sales process, you know that there are several steps involved in closing a deal. First, you identify the prospect. Next, you develop a strategy. Then you make a proposal. Finally, you close the sale. This process usually takes anywhere from 30 days to six months depending on many factors.
In contrast, an agile sales process looks different. Instead of following a linear path, sales reps follow a cyclical pattern where they start with a kickoff call, move into a discovery phase, sign a contract, and then begin selling based on the information gathered during the discovery stage.
This approach allows salespeople to focus on one thing at a time, rather than having to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. And since each step is broken down into smaller chunks, salespeople don't feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to complete.
As you might imagine, this method requires discipline. You must set aside time every week to plan out your next cycle. If you try to skip ahead, you risk losing momentum and falling behind schedule.
But once you master this technique, you'll see just how much time you save. Not only will you spend less time managing your pipeline, but you'll also avoid wasting precious resources chasing dead prospects.
A standup meeting should last no longer than 20 minutes. You don't want it to become a daily ritual where you're wasting everyone's time. But you do want to make sure that people are aware of what's happening within the team. So, how long should a standup meeting last?
The answer depends on the size of the team, the type of work being done, and the level of communication required. If you're working on a project that requires lots of coordination among multiple stakeholders, then you'll probably want to keep the meetings short. On the flip side, if you've got a small team doing simple tasks, you might want to hold longer standups.
You can use standups as a tool to improve collaboration and communication across your entire organization. For example, if you notice that some teams aren't communicating well, you could start holding daily standups for those teams. Or maybe you notice that certain groups within your organization aren't getting along very well. In that case, you could set up weekly standups to bring together different departments and discuss issues that arise.
A retrospective is a critical part of agile development. In fact, it’s one of the most important parts. Without retrospectives, teams are missing out on opportunities to improve processes, products, and people. They don't know what went well, what didn't go well, and how to make things better next time. While traditionally run at the end of every sprint, retros can also be helpful for brainstorming new ideas, examining success at significant milestones, and looking at larger issues like company culture.
Running successful retrospectives is dependent on the psychological safety and engagement of the team. Ensure that participants feel comfortable providing honest feedback through tooling that allows for anonymous feedback and guided facilitation.
The most important thing about setting sales goals is breaking them down into smaller pieces. You want to set specific numbers for each goal because it helps you focus on what needs to happen next. A good way to do this is to break up your goals into monthly and weekly targets. This allows you to see how much work you need to do every week, month, quarter, etc. If you don't know where to start, try asking yourself questions like "How many customers do I need to acquire per day?" or "What are my average customer lifetime values?". Once you've got some concrete numbers, it'll be easier to come up with realistic goals.
Setting goals based on a sprint schedule will help keep you focused throughout the project. Each sprint should have a clearly defined objective, such as increasing conversion rates by 5%. When you reach that goal, you can celebrate, but make sure to continue tracking your performance during future sprints. Otherwise, you might find yourself falling into the trap of focusing too much on short-term gains rather than long-term success.
Sales teams are increasingly adopting agile sales models. These models encourage creativity and innovation while enabling salespeople to adapt to changing market conditions. However, many companies struggle to implement agile sales practices because it requires significant cultural change.
Quick takeaways to keep in mind if you are thinking about adapting the agile approach for your sales team: