Oscar Wilde claimed that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” As a sales leader, consider the truth of this nugget when developing your team. If you’re not sure how to best help the team or an individual rep reach the next level, look around you for inspiration and best practices. Sometimes, that inspiration comes from outside the world of sales entirely.
It turns out, one of the best tools for sales improvement can be found just down the hall in the unlikeliest of places—your software development team. An AGILE framework of learning and improvement, like the one used by many modern development teams, has the potential to radically transform your sales org.
What is AGILE in the first place?
In 2001, a group of software developers met at the Snowbird Resort in Utah to discuss new ways of working in an ever-accelerating world. The result of this gathering was the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, a school of thought that continues to influence software development to this day. AGILE focuses on building software incrementally through iterations—completing lots of little tasks as opposed to one giant project. AGILE also prioritizes rapid iteration, testing, and application.
An industrious sales team can use these two core ideas to drive both individual rep and team-wide improvement:
Break learning/training goals into smaller steps—Suppose you want your sales team to improve their prospecting. Rather than setting a goal of X new prospects by the end of the quarter, identify smaller, incremental tasks that will help the team reach the larger goal (read X articles, get advice from colleagues, practice your pitch, send X emails per week, etc.). Focusing on these smaller “pebbles” one at a time will help move “boulders” in the long-run.
Begin a cycle of rapid testing and improvement—Don’t wait until the end of the quarter to review and get feedback. Instead, build cycles of practice and iteration into your work. Make constructive feedback commonplace for your team. Sit in on a rep’s phone call, or review outbound emails together in order to elicit suggestions for improvement. Ask reps to apply those suggestions to future conversations. Repeat the cycle of feedback again, and encourage reps to keep iterating. This culture of learning will lead to continuous rapid improvement on a weekly basis, rather than a quarterly one.
As you put these processes into effect with your team, remember the principles that serve as the backbone to AGILE. These four tenets prompted the development of AGILE back at that resort in Utah, and they continue to impact many successful businesses today:
Individuals matter more than tools—It’s easy to spend hours worrying about the stack of sales tools that you’re using to empower your team. While a great online training software is essential, don’t forget that real improvement is about developing people, not just about picking the right tools.
Impact matters more than thoroughness—The journey to perfection often feels like a treadmill—it’s never-ending. Rather than developing extensive learning materials that cover every possible topic, prioritize quick and efficient lessons that make an immediate, meaningful impact. In short, choose access over mastery.
Customers matter more than contracts—In his best-selling book Give and Take, Wharton professor Adam Grant notes, “The more I help out, the more successful I become. But I measure success in what it has done for the people around me.” Train reps to focus on helping customers and delivering amazing value to them. We promise—the contracts will follow.
Responsiveness matters more than sticking to the plan—Rolling out a big plan or strategy is exciting, until reality strikes and things don’t go as expected. When a new strategy or opportunity strikes, grab it! The ability to change plans quickly is inherent to an AGILE methodology. Do you have a new product or see a new industry that provides a chance for growth? Work with your team to flex, adapt to change, and take action. This is when prioritizing speed over fidelity becomes essential to sales success.
Sales roles are complex and competitive, and delivering results week after week, quarter after quarter is exhausting. The AGILE methodology helps many software developers consistently achieve their goals and improve their skills. And many different job functions have co-opted the AGILE methodology to drive productivity for their teams—but sales orgs stand to gain the most. Find the version of AGILE that best helps your sales teams reach their goals, and start moving those pebbles.
Agile or not, sales teams win with Lessonly
Lessonly is an online training software that’s purpose-built for sales and support teams. Our platform helps teams learn, practice, and perform at the highest level. See Lessonly for yourself, and take a tour today.