Nothing is as dull as a Monday planning session where everyone is dragging their feet, nothing practical or tangible gets discussed, and everyone leaves because the time is up.

I often wonder if sales leaders are aware of the effectiveness of their sprint planning mainly because I’ve seen such a wide range.

Let’s look at two scenarios…

Scenario one
It’s the beginning of the sprint, and team members are coming in online or in the room five or so minutes after the meeting start time. Everyone is pretty quiet but still respectful and present.

The team lead starts and runs the session because no one else knows how to do it.

Some high-level actions get discussed.

The same team members get the airtime, raising meaningful points. If someone is confused or has a question, they don’t ask it. You can see their confusion or problem in their face, but they don’t speak up.

The meeting finishes at the designated time, and everybody has to leave.

Now, let’s look at a different scenario…

Scenario two
It’s the beginning of the sprint, and in this meeting, the team arrived a few minutes early to talk about their day and weekend activities; I call these ‘happy side talks’ because they’re a positive sign that the team is functioning well.

The team knows the drill; they don’t need to wait for a facilitator to lead the discussion. They share their goals, pledge and discuss their detailed plans. They’ve thought about their activities and know their next steps.

Everyone in the meeting has a say, and if there are questions, people will ask and clarify. If someone sees a blocker, they will ask for support.

What’s important is that the session doesn’t just finish because the time is up, it ends because everyone’s goals, plans and blockers have been discussed. The conversations have all occurred naturally without a sales leader or manager to direct them.

Can you see the difference between these two scenarios? Both of them result in a completed planning session, and team members hold both of them with good intentions. However, one of them is just ticking a box, while the other is intentional and focused.

So how to fix it?

If you are somewhere in between these two scenarios and would like to make a change, the first action is to ask your team members to come into the next meeting with a detailed, bullet-point plan.

If there’s anything they’re not sure on, they need to highlight it and share with the team for assistance. In that conversation, you want someone in the group to offer up their time to help out. Something like, “I can block out some time this afternoon to go through that with you.”

This method is a part of Agile practices, where there were a lot of planning sessions. These are sessions where each team member has a different mission or plan, and they aren’t working together on one particular project. They are still one team but with other objectives. This is a good way to bring everyone together. Once we plan, it is easy to make it happen. Planning is the part that we need to get right.

If you’re interested in transformation and looking for best practices to gradually change your ways of working, and the culture of your sales team, I have created a course which is a simplified version of what top-tier consulting firms are presenting to their clients. Explore the program here 60-min exec course.

I work with sales directors and leaders to apply Agile to fast-track their sales pipeline productivity, only by changing the way we work. If you have sales leaders in your team that are managing multiple team members, please share this article with them.

We learn best when we receive something from those we know. It is much more useful than going to a course, reading a book or sitting in front of an instructor telling us what to do. The more we learn together, the more we grow together.