The way people are buying, the people who are doing the selling and the typical sales process are all changing. With these changes, some sales managers have been adopting the Agile sales methodology. While this particular methodology is not an entirely new approach to management, it’s rather a recent import into the world of sales.
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The driving force behind the switch to this new sales force management system is the massive influx of millennial hires in the sales industry and an unprecedented amount of data. Unlike older salesmen who thrive under traditional management styles such as the waterfall methodology, millennials are resistant to such a long-term, top-down system. Younger employees do their best when they are given a fair amount of independence to control how they work, along with ample opportunities to collaborate with others. Luckily the Agile sales methodology allows for these preferences.
What is the Agile Sales Methodology and What Are the Benefits?
The core principles of the method are based on creating short-term goals and working independently to reach those goals while still having adequate collaborative support and feedback from the rest of the team. Due to the short timeframe for each target, Agile sales management gives employees the ability to address changes rapidly, alter their immediate goals to reflect these changes, and incorporate real-world results and feedback from their team instead of blindly following a plan created months, or longer, in advance.
How to Incorporate Agile Sales Management to Your Company
Effective Agile sales management depends on five key aspects: holding quick daily meetings, creating short-term personal goals, being flexible when it comes to making changes, holding yourself and others accountable, and designing measurable metrics.
Daily Meetings (Standups)
Quick daily meetings are usually held at the beginning of each day. Each session only runs for around five to 15 minute and are known as ‘standups’ because the team members typical remain standing for the duration. The goal of the meeting is to get everyone on the same page by having every team member answer three questions:
- What did you achieve yesterday?
- What will you achieve today?
- Any obstacles?
Establishing short-term goals is the linchpin of the agile sales methodology, and are also commonly referred to as ‘sprints.’ Long-term objectives are broken down into smaller, more realistic short-term goals. Each of these sprints may be as short as a day but rarely exceed a month. Breaking down daunting objectives into reachable goals helps to keep employees motivated and on track.
Flexibility to Adapt to Change
The flexibility of having short-term goals makes it easy to reassess and pivot from one objective to another as opposed to being locked into a plan which was set in stone by a higher-up. This built-in adaptability of the system is particularly helpful when there are significant changes to either the marketplace or the direction of the business which requires an almost instantaneous reaction.
Accountability by Using a CRM
While the agile sales methodology offers much more independence and flexibility than other management frameworks, team members and managers still need to know what and how everyone is performing. That means that the company’s CRM technology becomes even more critical. Staff needs to record every single customer interaction in the CRM system. For millennials who were raised on high tech, this isn’t an issue, but it can be for older employees.
Metrics to Track Success
With certain goals for the sales team or sales managers in mind, metrics are put in to place to track the progress. For example, if a manager finds that a sales professional talks too much during sales calls their key metrics to determine a successful phone call in the future could be:
- Talk-to-listen ratio (aiming for 20:80)
- Number of open-ended questions asked (aiming for 5+)
- Qualification-to-discovery conversion rate (target is 30%)
It’s important to come up with your goal first then work backwards to determine the best metrics to use to analyse progress towards the goal.
With the proper implementation of the Agile sales methodology, businesses can start to use data to better gauge the progress of their team.
Our Take on Agile Sales
Here at SOCO Sales Training we find the Agile Methodology to be an important part of today’s Sales Force Management. Much of the methodology aligns with our own Management Mastery system which includes the importance to track output as much as the outcome and it incorporates very well with Consultative Selling. You can learn more on our e-learning platform SOCO Academy.
Whether you incorporate Agile sales fully or not, make sure to start tracking small metrics to determine the efforts of your team, hold regular sales meetings to create a ‘team dynamic’ and of course, use a CRM!
- Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.
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