Creating an Agile sales team requires some changes in perspective from the stereotypical 'lone wolf' approach; it requires a higher level of team engagement and accountability across team members. The Scrum methodology is based on team-wide visibility into each task that needs accomplishing and accountability, not just up the hierarchy, but across it, for the pieces of a project that each member is responsible for. These changes are worth considering because, in a variety of instances, there are enormous potentials for sales productivity gains.

In many industries, sales campaigns revolve around firm dates, established far in advance. Fixed schedules apply to publications, and specific promotions. These events offer an excellent opportunity for teams to start using Scrum as they more closely resemble typical projects. Since these events differ from the normal day-to-day sales flow, they also offer a greater opportunity to promote teamwork. Getting a team started on their first Agile sales cycle does take some planning before the campaign launch.


HOW TO GET YOUR SALES TEAM ON AN AGILE PATH.

There are three organizational pieces of an Agile sales team: the standup, sprints, and the backlog. Within a sales campaign, there is a kickoff, a hard deadline and there are a specific number of accounts that need to be worked. Each sales person and team are tasked with hitting certain goals on account retention and revenue growth. Each sales person needs to have a clear understanding of the tasks at hand and their path to complete the campaign and achieve their goals. The status of each task is reported to the group in a peer-to-peer fashion during the daily standup.


THE BACKLOG

The backlog is a sort of staging area for tasks that need to be done but haven’t yet been started. For a sales campaign, the backlog will most likely be all accounts that that remain unworked. Ideally, these should be tagged as a backlog to the campaign in the CRM for quick identification and sorting for additional contacts. Aside from the logistical benefits of being able to sort and contact accounts which are at different stages of the sales campaign, organizing your accounts in this way allows for correct pacing of sales activity from the beginning of the campaign.


THE SPRINT

For commissioned sales teams, the Scrum concept of the sprint should be somewhat familiar: the goal is to break the sales campaign down into chunks, allowing the team to maintain consistent pacing and correct course as needed. In this way, the Scrum Sprint closely resembles a pay period or monthly quota system with specific goals for moving accounts forward through the sales pipeline. At the end of each Sprint cycle, results are reviewed, adjustments made, and new goals set.

The process of predicting what activity will occur during a time period is similar to sales forecasting, but it takes on added rigor when all activities are accounted for, not just closing sales. Activity forcasting allows sales teams to take into account all of the micro conversions that occur in the course of moving an account through the sales pipeline. This approach allows for a detailed, rigorous and highly collaborative approach to managing an active sales pipeline.


THE STANDUP

Sales team meetings are conventionally held weekly and monthly either as teams, or in a one-on-one setting with their sales manager, but the Scrum standup functions differently:

During the Scrum, each member of the team quickly identifies what they did the day before, what they’ll be doing today, and what barriers they are encountering; nothing more, no less. The idea is to provide rapid accounting of how you're spending your time to your team-mates and to identify any common challenges that may be affecting the group. The aim of the Scrum is to provide peer-to-peer accountability and group-wide visibility into challenges that may be occurring.

Get your sales team pulling as one and watch your numbers start moving in the right direction.

While the Scrum methodology presents a change of approach from the waterfall method of project management, it is already relatively similar to many of the well-known sales institutions. By approaching a sales campaign from the perspective of project management, sales managers can eliminate a lot of variability from the sales process. When implementing Scrum best practices, sales teams are better able move in the same direction through increased visibility into each others’ sales process while sharing best practices and holding each other accountable.

To move toward Agile, your entire team (including leadership) needs the right training and a guided adjustment in perspective. Campaign-oriented environments lend themselves better to Scrum methodology than other settings, but there are still opportunities to see performance improvements across the entire team in virtually every sales environment. With Agile, your sales team can do more, and sell more; teams that sell more, earn more!