Agile Sales: An Introduction
Agile and Scrum have become standards of practice for software and technology project management. These practices have revolutionized the success of countless technologists, products, and companies. However, most companies struggle when adopting agile practices throughout their entire organization. In many cases, adoption and rollout happen in the Product and Technology divisions of a company - then it stops, right there. Operational departments of companies, like sales, can benefit tremendously from hopping on the agile train. In an increasingly competitive marketplace that demands a customer-centric approach, agile sales practices will be the next standard.
Agile Sales Manifesto While many consider agile to be a project management practice, the term “agile” actually describes a specific set of foundational principles and values. The Agile Manifesto, created for building software products, outlines the original core agile values. Using the Agile Manifesto as a guide, Adnova Group created the Agile Sales Manifesto. While there are positives in both columns, the left side is more valued:
Relationships and interactions over transactions
Establishing value over focusing on price
Customer collaboration over negotiation
Strategic thinking over reliance on what worked in the past
Experimentation and innovation over reactive work patterns
Responding to change over following a plan
Benefits of Agile Sales
When implemented and adopted, agile values help improve lives, improve productivity, and improve practices to accelerate an organization’s growth and revenue. The most considerable benefit of adopting agile practices in sales is accelerating the sales cycle through self-organizing teams to iterate on both customer needs and more efficient sales operations systems.
Agile sales practices provide sales teams with the autonomy to make decisions based on information shared by prospects and customers to win deals. Improved communication and collaboration with customers and internal company teams bring value to customers faster without roadblocks, turning customers, and prospects into raving fans.
When using agile sales, sales teams can quickly share customer feedback through the organization, allowing other departments to respond and make changes needed to retain customers or improve processes. The sales operations team can adopt agile frameworks like Scrum to improve Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, sales intelligence platforms, system integrations, and more. Agile can also help sales leaders hire the right people, motivate and coach them, and ultimately help clear the way for sales success.
Preparing to Adopt Agile Sales
A crucial component for a company adopting agile sales is to have a framework to use as a guide. Scrum, the most widely used agile framework, has its own set of simple and easy to understand values.
V. Lee Henson of AgileDad utilizes an acronym for the Scrum values. It is insightful and is a simple tool to help any team accelerate growth: FORCE. FORCE is outlined below with some questions that offer a chance to reflect on a team’s culture. If a sales team can answer a resounding yes to the questions below, they already have a head start on agile sales adoption. If not, these should be the foundational goals.
The team is focused on what is most important and is not getting lost in the noise.
Is the team focused on what they can accomplish today? Is the team limiting the amount of work in process to focus on what is most important?
The team has transparency at all levels and a clear understanding of the vision. Transparency is apparent throughout the organization.
Are feedback loops tight across the team and organization? Does the team understand the mission of the team and how it fits into the organization’s vision?
The team respects people and processes. Healthy conflict is not only allowed but encouraged.
Do the team members listen to and learn from one another? Is the team able to have a healthy debate on disputed items?
The team is committed to each other and the goal. Do or do not; there is no try.
Is the team committed to the work in progress? Is the team dedicated to the success of the entire group?
The team has psychological safety and takes risks without fear. The group calls out problems and asks for help.
Does the team have the psychological safety that allows them to try new things and take risks? Does the team feel comfortable asking for help when it is needed?
Applying Scrum and agile values and practices, including sprints, daily stand-ups, and relentless improvement to sales, helps sales teams be more flexible, data-driven, and productive.
Challenges of Agile Sales
It can be challenging to know whether or not a sales team is ready to adopt agile sales. Adopting agile sales is a culture shift that can take individuals, groups, and entire organizations out of their comfort zone in the early stages. Concepts like failing early and often, and radical candor, are not usually encouraged by most sales teams. While these changes can be problematic for organizations to embrace at first, most sales teams are quick to adjust as the benefits become reflected in the improvements to collaboration, culture, and performance.
To further aid in adopting agile sales in a company, it’s essential to have a trusted partner to help your teams through implementation and process improvement. Ryan Bennett and Stephanie Lewis-Bennett of Adnova Group are passionate about helping turn teams into high-performance agile organizations. Visit Adnova Group’s website to download an introductory guide that addresses teams' and organizations’ specific needs for adopting agile sales.