Adopting Agile Methodology In Sales: Keys To Agile Sales Teams Can agile methodology be applied to sales?

You probably know what happened to dinosaurs, right? 

They were the most dominant animals that roamed the earth millions of years ago. They were big and strong, seemingly indestructible.

But no matter how strong they were, we know that a series of great environmental changes completely wiped out all of the dinosaurs. Now, all that we have left of them are piles of bones and pictures displayed in museums.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this. What does the extinction of the dinosaurs have to do with increasing your sales and growing your business? I’ve got one word for you—adaptation.

Adjust or expire—agile sales teams

Just think—we now live in a fast-paced world, with technology driving massive changes in the way we communicate and do business with one another. Needless to say, companies that fail to adapt to the rapid changes in business conditions could find themselves in a lot of trouble. This is especially true for the sales industry.

Let’s look at buyer behavior as an example. Before the internet, salespeople were the main source of product information. Buyers based their purchases on information passed on by the salesman, and the success of the sale often hinged on how effectively the seller was able to present solutions to the buyer’s problem.

But now, studies show that 57% of average buyers learn on their own, and are done with 60% of the sales process even before they initiate contact with sales professionals. They use the internet to choose among companies that supply the products that they need, and use social networks to cross-check the product’s quality. Other findings show that the chance of connecting with is lead are 100 times greater if sales reps reach out within five minutes.

Quick-thinking companies have adapted to this by changing the way that they sell. Tech-savvy executives are now focusing on developing CRM systems that will help their sales teams produce high-quality, shareable content that will attract the right kind of leads and potential clients at the exact moment that they are ready to purchase.

There is another casualty of changing consumer patterns that is often overlooked, an elephant in the room if you will, that sales professionals need to pay attention to if they want to stay on top—and this is the gradual erosion of the traditional sales process.

As your clients become more and more discerning decision-makers, the rigidity of the seven stages of the traditional sales cycle is now rendered obsolete and ineffective in pushing up revenue. Potential clients are getting more impatient; they want high-quality information about top notch products and services available to them at the click of a mouse.

So how exactly should sales teams adapt? Is there a way to transform management procedures and workflow processes to fit increasing client demands and cutthroat competition?

The answer is YES—by transforming your sales teams into masters of the agile approach.

What is agile and what’s in it for me?

Coined by a group of software developers who were frustrated with the way the traditional “waterfall” approach to software development projects often resulted to convoluted processes and late release, the Agile methodology focuses on 4 important values:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

Simply put, the agile methodology is a new way of managing projects. It takes away the rigidity of the waterfall approach—where step-by-step processes of long planning sessions, coding and testing need to be strictly followed before a product can be launched.

Instead, the Agile method calls for “the completion of small chunks of ‘shippable code’ that can be defined, built, tested, and shipped in the time span of a single ‘sprint,’ usually lasting 15 to 30 days.” This means that instead of looking to finish a complete product in a long period of time, agile practitioners are working in short, defined periods (known as sprints) to accomplish a certain output (known as user story).

The outputs and current challenges faced by team members are quickly shared during daily stand-up meetings, while discussions about more general achievements, highlights and weaknesses of each sprint are reserved for Sprint reviews, which are done less often.

Feedback is encouraged at all times, and major strategic changes arising from these feedbacks can occur at any point, even when a product is thought to be nearing its completion date.

For example, a team might set one month as the duration of a sprint, where they focus on achieving one concrete goal—such as generating a total of 1000 original leads. Every day, the scrum master (typically the team manager) calls everyone in for a brief 15-minute briefing to check on how the goal is being met, or if there are major roadblocks that need to be addressed. Suggestions are elicited, especially if team members think of better ways to accomplish the goal. After a month, a sprint review is held.

This highly flexible process of constant adaptation and improvement allows agile sales teams to respond to the specific and immediate needs of clients.

The Agile method also makes employees more focused and productive, as they channel all of their energies into achieving a concrete goal, instead of worrying about meeting annual quotas. It allows agents to prioritize tasks and work more efficiently as workflows become more open to improvement. Problems are addressed as quickly as they come, and the overall

Turning sales teams to agile agents

Shifting from a traditional to an agile management process is not an easy task.

It takes careful planning and the success relies on the willingness of both sales executives and team members to adapt to a new way of thinking and doing things. And just like all major organizational changes, the first few sprints are going to be painful.

But don’t give up! The rewards are greater than the risks, and there are some ways to ease the initial pains of transitioning, such as–

Investing in high-value technology for your sales team. 

According to a study done by Accenture, “76% of CSOs perceive that mobile CRM (such as tablets and capabilities) improves the sales team’s performance, yet less than one-half (48%) of companies are currently providing access to critical sales and customer information on mobile devices.

If you plan on adopting an agile management approach, you need to invest in the proper technologies that will help your team attain their sprint targets. For example, using cloud-based SaaS technologies in maintaining a customer engagement portal makes it easier for the team to engage with customers and generate leads.

Even Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn can be used to make it easier for agile sales teams to collect relevant information on possible leads or potential clients—it doesn’t have to be expensive technology. The point is, you just need to get a clear idea on what your sales team needs, so that you can help them do their tasks well.

Empower your agile sales team 

Unless you get the whole sales team on board in shifting to agile methods, it’ll be chaos. As a sales executive, you need to make sure that every single one of your team members are fully engaged right off the bat–from planning goals, setting schedules, to setting up evaluation metrics. This opens up management as a group effort, and allows your staff (even underperforming ones) to succeed and sometimes fail, on their own terms.

By empowering the team, each individual team member becomes accountable, and takes responsibility and ownership over the achievement of the sprint goal. Because they all took part in setting the goals and planning ways to make it happen, the successful achievement of the goal becomes a personal quest that can boost individual morale and encourage productivity.

Remove communication roadblocks

One sure-fire way to ensure the successful transition of your employees into a powerfully agile sales team is by eliciting feedback from all channels on a regular basis. Make team members feel that their opinions are valued by encouraging them to never miss a stand-up session. Ask individual agents about their specific tasks for the day and help them place it within the context of the overall sprint goals—that way, you make it easier for them to open up to you regarding any issues or suggestions they may have and also allows you to track their productivity without being overbearing and aggressive.



FREE WHITE PAPER: The Impact and Opportunities of Account Based Marketing for B2B Sales Teams

Read on about how you can take a more calculated approach to sales and exceed your goals.

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Dan Sincavage

Dan Sincavage

Dan is a Co-Founder of Tenfold and currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer. Dan oversees the Tenfold sales organization, manages strategic partner relationships and works with key enterprise accounts to ensure their success with the Tenfold platform.

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