Sales is an ever-evolving concept, having gone through innumerable cycles of transformations over the past decades. We truly have come a long way from depending upon field salespersons and face-to-face sales deals to inside salespersons relying on digitization for closing major business deals.
But despite that, the ultimate goal of a sales team has been a constant across timelines – to generate more sales. And to achieve this goal, businesses need to be flexible. In accordance with this, giving the sales team independence has proven to be highly beneficial.
Not only do independent salespeople are more experienced and successful, but they tend to stick around for a longer time, ensuring longevity. It is especially truer for this current generation of millennials.
This is because the present generation of employees tends to do better and provides efficient results when they feel they have more independence in the work they do. They love being in the middle of the crux and they feel valued when they are given opportunities to collaborate.
Changing Business Environment
The last decade has rendered the business environment to be ever-shifting thanks to all the technological advancements. More emphasis has been given to the merge of offline and online sales strategies. A shift towards diversifying supply chains, creating effective business ecosystems, and inserting innovation in logistics has been seen.
Not to forget, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis has compelled businesses to alter their way of executing profitable strategies. In order to engage with their businesses, 47% of consumers around the globe have increased their usage of digital channels in the last 12-18 months.
If you think these were temporary emergency practices, you would be mistaken since, in the grand scheme of things, they are expected to remain relevant long after the pandemic is well behind us.
Challenges with Traditional Sales Methods
The spike in adopting modern sales methods is not unwarranted. Given the challenges that the traditional sales methods pose, it is no surprise that entrepreneurs and organizations are devising plans to adopt a new cutting-edge sales approach.
Take a look at some of the biggest challenges that traditional sales methods carry that have prompted business leaders of today to have a different outlook.
Your business model is weak if you can’t differentiate between whose actions in your team have resulted in the profit, or more importantly, the loss that your company has endured.
Traditional sales models make it extremely difficult for people to be held accountable for their decisions and ineffectiveness. When people can’t be held accountable, their sense of responsibility to contribute to the company also diminishes slowly.
Low Team Bonding
The lack of transparency and the heavy dependence on each other for individual success in the traditional sales model is a bummer. A sales team’s success depends a lot on how well communicated they are with each other, which in turn, strengthens team bonding.
Unfortunately, the stringent hierarchical top-down system of traditional sales models stands in the way of team bonding.
Limited Tracking of Activities in Pipeline
In sales, the numbers do the talking and your success is more nuanced than the profit you earn at the end of the year. Keeping track of the number of prospects in your sales funnel, assessing the performance of individual salespeople, and managing daily tasks are crucial for learning where (or rather on whom) you should invest your money on.
Unfortunately, traditional sales models just aren’t technologically equipped to put together all these minute details in front of you.
Since conventional sales methods are so rigid with their framework, it makes them less flexible towards the developments and challenges that new technology is throwing at them at a rapid pace.
If your strategies aren’t agile enough, your business model will wear thin resulting in not only less profit but pose a threat to the stability of the organizational structure.
Speaking of agile, it is about time that more and more companies adopt the dynamic sales model, popularly known as agile sales management. The proof is in the pudding, and here’s why:
What is Agile Sales Management?
The core of agile sales lies in understanding the drastic as well as subtle changes in the consumer journey and formulating a strategy accordingly.
Agile sales management integrates project management strategies in a business model through sprints, constant iteration, and daily stand-ups, not only help teams become more agile, but also efficiently meet the consumers’ expectations at various stages of their journey.
Essentially, the goal here is to set short-term goals and work on an independent basis to achieve them while still collaborating with the concerned team and providing timely feedback.
It has proven to be effective since it lets the employees:
- Rapidly address changes.
- Be flexible with their immediate goals to adjust to the changes.
- Incorporate feedback and real-world results rather than blindly following a redundant blueprint.
Why Does Your Business Need Agile Sales?
The concept of agile sales is a proven success formula. Let’s go through three distinct perspectives – employees, employer and customer – to understand why your business needs this ASAP.
Employees Want Independence and a Transparent Structure
As said before, the current generation of the workforce is looking at a broader horizon that goes beyond the top-to-bottom hierarchical opaque structure. They are seeking independence in their work structure. They want to feel more involved. And agile sales fits right up their alley due to its dynamic and efficient base.
It is estimated that millennials will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025. The macrostructure created by baby boomers and GenX-ers will invariably be reshaped by the attitudes of the millennials. In other words, the bottom-line-oriented business world will not fly with the millennials.
Employers Need Smarter Data Management and Faster Results
Collecting data in vast proportions is futile if you don’t know how to manage it well. This is where agile sales management comes into play. This would help the employer figure out their lowest and highest performing sales rep in terms of their average call-to-demo conversion rate and the number of business deals they are closing.
The huge chunk of data can get intimidating and complex but with agile sales constantly reviewing it, you can expect results just in a few clicks.
Customers are Impatient and Need Unique Interactive Experiences
Customers today are informed and savvy. What worked on them in the past will not work for them now. Why would they want to waste their time going through a rigid sales process if they can get the information themselves online?
If sales reps recite the same monotonous pitch to them, they are going to lose interest in an instant. Agile sales management helps develop a unique consultative interactive session that enables reps to respond in real-time, thereby ensuring a high-value experience for the customers.
Principles of Agile Sales Management
Structurally, agile sales management is very fluid and believes in the isolated success of individual aspects rather than the heavy dependence of each aspect on one another. It does so with the help of five simple yet effective principles.
Evident by its name, these refer to daily meetings where team members remain standing during the entirety of the meeting’s duration. Lasting 5-15 minutes, these are held at the start of the day with the intent of bringing the team members under a single umbrella by answering:
- What did we achieve yesterday?
- What do we want to achieve today?
- What are the obstacles on our way?
Long-term goals can seem daunting. Instead of inspiring the employees, they tend to demotivate the employees. This is why agile sales methodology believes in assigning and meeting short-term goals. Referred to each goal as sprints, their tenure can be of a single day or a month, at most.
This makes the goals more feasible and achievable and sales reps feel extra motivated to get the job done.
We can’t stress the importance of incorporating a flexible sales plan that will allow you to introspect, reassess, and pivot from one goal to another if the situation demands so. Agile sales management believes that you should work around the system, not the other way around.
Being adaptable, this model is thus better at handling any last-minute crisis or demand or anything that would require an instantaneous reaction from the business’s end.
Being the scientific method that it is, it relies on technology to keep a track of performance. As such, if there is a loophole in the work frame, that can get addressed quickly and salespeople underperforming can be held accountable.
This is why CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is synonymous with this business model. Through the CRM system, employees can keep a record of every single engagement with the customer and employers can supervise the actions of their staff. This also requires your sales tools to be synced with your CRM to ensure a hassle-free unified work system.
Without defining your key metrics, you can’t ensure improvement even if you are able to locate the fault in the work system. Agile sales methodology encourages you to employ metrics to track the progress level of your staff.
It can be anything and can apply to everyone – reps, executives, and even managers, among others. By giving a metric (number of open-ended questions to be asked, talk-to-listen ratio, average quota attainment, or average deal velocity), it will become easier to fix the mistakes and evaluate the progress.
The Symbiotic Relationship between Agile Sales and Your Business
What makes agile sales so popular is how goal-oriented it is without being a stick to punish employees with. Employees feel more accountable and part of the organization with this model as they can visualize their contribution in real-time. The subtle yet far-reaching impact of agile sales on your business can be remarkable.
Deeper Sales Insights into Product and More Positive Revenue Impacts
Not only does it generate positive impacts on the revenue by implementing short-term goals (which ultimately is more effective in achieving a bigger target), but it allows the employers to get detailed insights into the development and marketing of their products and services.
By providing meticulous insight into what is going wrong (or right) in the development and marketing of your product or service, you would be better equipped to provide faster solutions with minimal changes.
Develop Cross-Functional Leaders
It also instills leadership quality in employees since they are more in charge of direct contribution and planning. Hence, it attributes to the development of cross-functional leaders.
Employees feel more valued and more motivated to perform their best without any added constraint of pressure from top sources.
Low Performers Gain Insights from High Performers
Since the agile sales model makes it easier to identify mistakes, lower performers can seek constructive criticism from their peers to find quick solutions.
The model motivates people to be more accountable for their actions, be it for positive results or by asking for help in improving themselves. As such, it accelerates the process of team bonding.
Since the structure of agile sales management is fluid, both employees and employers are adaptable to incorporate quick changes to suit the required module.
Even though a baseline framework is built, the staff don’t lock themselves up inside that framework and instead keep room for adaptability. Tactful pivoting is key here.
The resume of agile sales management speaks for itself but if you are curious about its traditional competitor, here’s a tiny dive into what it is:
Waterfall Project Management – An Alternative to Agile Sales Strategy
Waterfall project management is what traditional sales management implies. Evident by its name, it incorporates a top-to-bottom linear approach. In stark contrast to agile sales, development teams move ahead to the next phase only when the previous step is performed successfully.
It is known for its tight structural framework that focuses on relying on a sequential design. For better or for worse, once the project development starts, there is no scope for making any changes here.
It shouldn’t be a surprise as to why agile sales management has become the buzzword in the industry and why the new generation swears by it. By focusing on incremental progress, this model ensures a higher quality of product or service development, leading to better engagement with customers.
Employees feel more self-organized, motivated, and accountable for their actions. There is a lesser risk involved. And reliance on effective CRM software makes sure precise result is generated.
This compels businesses to be more agile and assume the shape of clay so that they can mold themselves to face the distinct challenges rather than being stifled through an age-old blueprint.