Thursday, November 10, 2016

Agile Outside IT - Agile and Sales

"By following the steps in Scrum, management learned that sales can lend itself easily to an Agile environment. Individuals found that this shared work model led to more consistent revenue and compensation in addition to a more even workload. No longer did the 'sales stars' work much harder than everyone else. Each team member focused on his/her own domain expertise."
This is a lesson learned mentioned in an article by Eric Kristfelt, a sales manager who worked for two Agile organizations. It gives a clear indication that an iterative agile process like Scrum was very helpful for a successful sales team.

Agile has strongly affected Sales and selling in two ways.

The Sales 'Iterative' Process:

First, sales is a process, sometimes described in 7 stages very similar to the waterfall process. This traditional process has become incompetent in dealing with today's fast market changes and fast learning customers. Scott Gillum discusses this deficient traditional process in his article at Forbes: The Disappearing Sales Process. Gillum relates a study which indicates that "57 percent of the sales process just disappeared", because today's knowledgable buyers already do this part on their own before they contact any provider.

Scrum, in this regard, has improved the sales process so much. Team started talking about adopting Scrum in sales, and doing marketing and sales sprints to improve learning about opportunities and customer needs, and improve fast response to customers. In this study, such fast response (when done within 5 minutes) makes the chance for a successful connection 100 times better, and the chance for successful qualification 21 times better!

Sales 'Cross-functional' Teams:

Second, sales traditionally focuses on the individual sales person. Now, thanks to the agile mindset, sales people are talking about cross-functional sales teams! Refer to Eric Kristfell article above for an example how sales cross-functional teams has created a better collaborative and successful environment, and resulted in the best target achieved in the organization. Also, this presentation is very useful example of how agile team roles maps to agile sales team roles.

Finally, I'm quoting Jeff Sutherland, the co-author of Scrum, telling us about this experiment adopting scrum with the sales team of ISence:
"Company revenue increased by 100% after Scrum implementation in the first quarter. Although market changes also contributed to this result, the general manager indicates that at least 50% of the revenue increase can be contributed to the adoption of Scrum"
The is enough for this episode, the next one to come tomorrow insha'Allah, about Agile in Finance and Budgeting :)