Sales is a process blade of a Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE). The aim of your Sales efforts is to, you guessed it, sell your organization’s offerings (both products and services) to customers. Your sales people, if any, will work very closely with your Marketing team to ensure they are focused on selling offerings that reflect your organizations’ overall strategy. They will also work closely with Product Management to ensure that what they’re selling is available or can be built in a timely manner. Organizationally Sales is often combined with Marketing or may even be matrixed into Business Operations.
Even when your direct sales processes are fully automated, such as with online sales at sites such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, or many more, you still need to understand and optimize your sales processes over time. For example, e-commerce firms are constantly experimenting with new ways to sell their wares, occasionally even identifying patentable techniques. They are actively analyzing sales data, looking for patterns in customer behavior and new opportunities. The goal is to learn, often in real time, what people want and perhaps even to hypothesize on why they want these things.
Disciplined Agile sales teams will consider the following strategies:
- Reward sales people for long-term, delighted customers. Sales should be more consultative, measured by delivering great customer service rather than revenue generated. One option is to give sales people a base salary plus bonus based on customer reviews or a similar measure of customer delightedness. Another option is to also factor in the long-term profitability of the customer and more importantly how the sales person is contributing to growing business with that customer. This motivates sales people to focus on customer experience, which is much healthier for the long-term success of your DAE.
- Do away with sales commissions and sales quotas. Although many sales people will not like this strategy, the fact is that sales commissions, and worse yet quarterly or annual sales quotas, will motivate dysfunctional behavior by your sales people. This includes selling customers things they may not need, selling them more than they need, or even selling them things that you don’t actually have (yet). If you want to Delight Customers then your sales efforts should focus on doing what’s right for the customer instead of what’s profitable for the sales person.
- Sell what’s on the truck. This is an old sales adage that advises sales people to focus on selling what is actually available right now. When sales people promise new features that don’t yet exist, or may not be viable, this can create havoc within the team(s) building the offering. Schedules may be impacted to the point where previous promises to customers are put at risk due to refocusing on the new “fire drill” and you may discover that “simple features” that have been promised to a customer are significantly more expensive than you initially thought. If sales people are going to sell new things that don’t yet exist, and it will occasionally happen, then they should first work with the appropriate Product Management people to ensure that what they’re selling is both desirable and viable.
- Enable salespeople to maximize time with customers. You can’t support your customers when you’re at your desk doing paperwork. Automate away the non-value-added work as much as possible.
- Apply advanced analytics to establish prices in real time. Your goal should be to obtain the highest yield possible from each transaction. A perfect example of this is the way that Uber prices a fare – when demand goes up, perhaps due to poor weather or because it’s rush hour, the price of a ride goes up. Uber sets prices in real time based on the current supply of drivers available in a given area and the demand of potential passengers.
- Tailor offerings to profitable customers. An important way that you can Delight Customers is to tailor your offerings to better suit their needs. For example airlines regularly do this via their loyalty programs, offering “perks” such as seat upgrades, better food and drinks, valet parking, concierge services at the airport, and many other options to their frequent flyers in an effort to motivate them to continue flying regularly with the airline. Tailoring offerings to specific customers can require significant analytics to identify what the customer would potentially like as well as an understanding of the total cost structure of your value stream.
- Demand continuous delivery from IT. When organizations are still taking a big release approach to their product line, think the quasi-annual Microsoft Office updates (such as Office 2013) of a few years ago, then customers will slow down and even stop buying just before a major release because they would often prefer to get the new release. When the IT delivery team takes a continuous delivery approach, think Microsoft Office 365 which currently has weekly updates, then customers will not be motivated to wait for an upcoming release, thereby providing you with a steadier stream of incoming revenue. Continuous delivery approaches also tend to be easier on salespeople because they don’t need to learn about, and track, the features provided by each major release.