managemnet company strategy managemanet Using Sprints to Boost Your Sales Team’s Performance

Using Sprints to Boost Your Sales Team’s Performance

Using Sprints to Boost Your Sales Team’s Performance post thumbnail image

For the past two decades, technology developers have been using agile methodology to work more effectively. As sales teams are thinned and initiatives face change and strategy changes, using sprints popularized by agile helps them focus on priorities that will drive results. At its heart is a rhythm of structured, weekly meetings between the manager and the salesperson.

Driven by a rapidly changing digital world, marketing organizations are spending more resources and energy on strategic initiatives. Whether it involves wholesale changes (for example, reorganizing the sales team or moving to hybrid field-digital customer engagement) or less disruptive (for example, introducing new sales quotas or adopting new sales technologies), the main roadblock to the intended effect is the failure to achieve excellence in execution.

For sales teams, implementing new strategies can be very difficult. Selling is a multifaceted job, with many options of what to do at any given time. Demands from customers, sales managers, marketing managers, and digital nudges can push salespeople in inconsistent directions. They may choose to take on tasks that are easier, such as calling friendly accounts with moderate growth, or focusing on small short-term wins rather than progressing on larger, longer-term opportunities. Additionally, salespeople may be reluctant to adopt new methods that disrupt how they previously engaged customers. Results, especially on large deals, will follow weeks and months after the actions taken by the salespeople to bring about the results.

One solution that has helped many sales teams close execution gaps is sales sprints – time periods of one to two weeks booked with a one-on-one meeting between the sales manager and salesperson (or account team). The idea is to break down strategies and goals into smaller, more manageable tasks to help sales teams stay focused and held accountable. Sales sprints have some obvious similarities agile sprints for technology development – both the work is divided into small parts and those involved meet regularly to monitor progress and adjustments. But unlike agile sprints (which are used for projects with a beginning and an end), sales sprints are part of a regular management cadence for continuous improvement processes to grow value for customers and drive sales.

Sales sprints sound straightforward, and they are. However, successful implementation takes work. To be effective, sales sprints must be embedded in an organization’s operating rhythm; they cannot accumulate additional management duties for sales teams. Sprints work best when the effort is supported by a centralized digital platform that connects the approach to sales management programs including pipeline management, goal setting, coaching, and rewards. Additionally, sales managers must collaborate with their peers across the organization to bring insights and experiences to each sprint conversation.

Sales Sprints in Action

Global steel and wire manufacturer Deacero has a broad product portfolio and long-standing customer relationships. To achieve aggressive growth targets, the company wants to move beyond a transactional “inside-out” sales process where its sales teams focus on getting orders for what’s in inventory. Leaders recognize the need for a new market-focused “outside-in” sales strategy that relies on anticipating market trends, and proactively targeting accounts.

Deacero launched “Win ​​the Week,” a program of sales sprints to gradually introduce new capabilities (eg, key account management, solution selling) and activities (eg, account prioritization and planning). The goal is to ensure that the salesperson is focused on the individual opportunities and needs of the customer. After a short training session, sales managers begin using sprints to guide their salespeople to identify and complete a set of customer improvements to add value to the pipeline.

In each weekly 50-minute 1:1 meeting, usually on Friday, the manager and salesperson discuss three questions:

  1. What happened? For example, how did the planned actions turn out last week? How do we create pipeline development and key result areas? What have we learned about customers and the market?
  2. What’s next? For example, what prospects and customers should we target next week? What actions should we take? What offers and values ​​should we be talking about? What improvements or customer improvements should we be looking for?
  3. How can the manager help? For example, what can the manager do to support next week’s planned efforts? What support is needed from other parts of the organization?

Sales managers use sprint conversations to help their salespeople break down larger, more complex sales strategies (for example, increasing sales of the product portfolio) into smaller, more manageable, opportunity-specific customer activities (for example, in vertical market A, sell solution B, to account C, by meeting with decision maker D, and using value proposition E). Managers ensure that weekly schedules are focused on spending a larger portion of time on accounts that show the highest growth potential. Planning conversations focused on how Deacero’s full suite of products can best meet the needs of key accounts.

The success of sprints with the sales team encouraged Deacero to use sprints with multiple teams and across organizational levels. Sales, marketing, and manufacturing executive teams began working together in bi-monthly sprint meetings to align the business to specific market opportunities. Sales executives then work with sales managers to break down quarterly forecasts into salesperson-based performance indicators.

Deacero supports sprints with a leading CRM platform. Organizational thinking and processes have changed to produce what the market needs, instead of selling what is produced.

The results were amazing – with more focus on customer development, sales reps sold an average of 8% more product categories per account. Within the first six months of the new organization, sales reps exceeded sales goals previously thought unattainable, resulting in a 16% increase in revenue.

Why Sales Sprints Are Effective

Here’s what salespeople and sales managers say about how sales sprints drive results.

  • Moving from strategy to implementation: “Our quarterly plans used to be like checking a box. I never looked at them after I developed them… Sprints make plans dynamic and actionable.”
  • Collaboration across the business: “I have never experienced this kind of conversation. Marketing and sales brainstorming to generate ideas that move the needle.”
  • Link insights to actions: “The previous approach was too generic and inappropriate. Sprints help us stay market informed and focused on priority actions that help us achieve our marketing goals.
  • Customer focus: “Weekly game planning for specific customer decision makers helps me focus on what’s important in each conversation. Things don’t fall through the cracks.”

As companies across industries such as manufacturing, technology, healthcare, and professional services seek to drive growth in a rapidly changing digital world, they are using marketing sprints to connect their ever-changing execution strategies. In addition, these organizations accelerate the success of their sprints by supporting them with cross-functional collaboration, incentive compensation plans aligned with growth strategies, and CRM dashboards that help identify gaps in the sales pipeline. Marketing sprints help organizations keep strategy and execution in sync, and in turn, drive value for customers who “win” every week, quarter, and year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Post