After 4 Years of Agile Sales (LEAN as we called it) – there are many new learnings. Sticking to our focus on the standards of Lean Sales instead of some theoretical procedures, we can now take inventory of what worked at what didn’t so far. Today’s post is about what worked well. In a later post I’ll address innovation we are doing on things that did not work well or at all.
As a reminder here is the link to our original vision of how to set up your Sales Kanban.
THINGS THAT WORKED (MOSTLY)
Delivering on the WHY
The primary reason was to double the effectiveness of the team in terms of both pipeline and revenues per person as well as deal quality (net new vs existing customers). We definitely accomplished both objectives and that should now be table stakes.
Focus on customer value creation
We constantly validate our ideas with customers and shut down events, meetings and other activities that they do not see value in. Same with the so-called “business value added” (i.e. internal) activities. We prioritize internal requests by how badly the other party needs our involvement and output.
Make the team’s work visible
Maybe a year late but we are getting close to where I thought we could be in a few months. There are practically no status updates except on our Kanban boards (Trello) and in our KPI systems (forecast). Most team members update their task lists, track their progress on a daily basis. There is a measurable difference in work output for those in our team that work in a Lean way vs those that do not. We systematically eliminated many non-value added activities and projects and many team members routinely pivot on their project direction as a matter of business without requiring major reviews, offsites etc.
As a sales leader i can see 70-80% of activities, comment on bottlenecks, share best practices, intervene on bottlenecks. Given this is a completely dispersed virtual team with practically no face-time – I consider this the ultimate win
Limit the tasks you are juggling
Reducing WIP is forced through questioning what is adding value and by limiting available resources. Most of the teams simply do not have the resources for worthless projects and parallel activities
Measure your effectiveness
We keep the KPIs simple and focus it all on customer value add. Given we are in sales all activities are prioritized and measured in 3 categories: 1) deal origination (net new business) 2) deal influence (moving existing opportunities forward) 3) support (supporting internal teams). The percentage of time and revenue associated with each of these priorities are strictly measured against a predefined target allocation of pipeline and revenues. We did not do daily standups but our forecast calls were weekly standups of sort where we dealt with target effort, time and blockers.
Continously strive to improve
A lot of this actually happens as part of the work being visible and KPIs constantly reviewed. We still do our version of Kaizen events in leadership offsites but the focus is less on strategic and tactical pivoting (which happens as a matter of daily business) but more on execution.