Agile Selling: Scrum in Sales
Geplaatst op 26 september 2016 door Ronald Swensson

Scrum has its roots in software development, but it is often applied in other domains, for example manufacturing, education and contracting. One area of successful adopting Scrum has been sales. Companies that have used Scrum for sales say it made a chaotic process transparent, predictive and controllable. We have commonly seen sales teams increase their hit rate by 30-50%. Sales teams at first may be sceptical of the team oriented nature of Scrum. Due to the individual nature of sales people, Scrumming sales requires a cultural shift. 'Every Man For Himself, God For Us All' has to change in 'The Whole Is More Than The Sum Of Its Parts'. To achieve this cultural shift is a big challenge for a sales manager. 

The most stringent effect of using Scrum in sales is the insight that the direct cause and effect for closing a sales deal can be detected in an early stage and as such controlled. Through the usage of Scrum, a sales team will learn that there are early indicators that have a direct relation with final sales results. As such, it becomes easier to predict final order intake and sales numbers. Before using Scrum, everyone in sales shares a common agreement that sales is a random process which is ultimately impossible to control (..). After all, the customer decides to buy and not sales. By implementing Scrum, sales teams learn that they have early predictive indicators that help them to control their final outputs. Furthermore, they have their processes much better under control, they improve them continuously and they simply have more fun in their work. 

To get started with Scrum the first thing is to buy an old-fashioned whiteboard, this will be your new Scrum Board (or you can use our INNOmaps). Leads are sometimes listed vertically down in order of priority, on a Scrum Board there are multiple columns across the horizontal axis for each step in the sales process (sales pipeline). Leads are moved to the far right 'done' column only when a sale has been closed or the lead has proven fruitless. You create an overview by posting all sales leads and their status on the Scrum Board and it helps the team to see what leads are struggling to move toward the done column. As a sales team gets more experienced in Scrum, patterns usually start to emerge. By tracking leads on a Scrum board and discuss every week (weekly standup meetings) what works and what does not, the sales process becomes more transparent (of cause there are also the success stories: team members tell each other which deals they closed and how they did it). You can create rules for having leads on the Scrum Board, for example 'if a lead doesn’t move at least 2 steps through the sales process in 3 months it will be abandoned'. This allows the team members to spend more time on leads that have a higher probability of closing (and sometimes it creates more pressure on a specific lead which would otherwise fall on the ground...). 

What are the major benefits of Scrum as a methodology for sales teams? 
- Sales is more predictable; cause and effects can be learned and when better known it is possible that 'hitrates' improve by 30-50%; 
- The awareness within a sales team that sales alone is not sufficient; total value delivery (or value creation) is nowedays crucial; 
- The awareness that there is more to win with existing customers (up-, cross - and deep selling); 
- Goal setting will lead to creative thinking, eagerness and a higher learning capacity on improving the ratios of cold calling to deals;
- You get smarter sales teams as they use practical Scrum techniques;
- Better understanding and determining the buyers journey by asking the right questions.

See also our training Scrum in Sales (in Dutch).