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1023 - THE SALES ASSESSMENT THAT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE - Shirin Danesh

About a year ago I published an article called “the Excel that saved my life”. It was a resource I created after many hours of time coming up with a way to quantify what an Agile practitioner does.

 

 I liked what I came up with so decided to put it online for anyone else to use. Anyway, the article and resource blew up → to this day it’s been downloaded hundreds of times.

Simply because, the assessment converts what an Agile practitioner would rightly charge a tonne for when they transform a business. 

 

At about the same time, I started changing direction of my business because I wanted to take Agile into Sales teams. What I love most about Agile is when applied to a sales pipeline results are immediately visible in the sales numbers. I love numbers and am passionate about Agile so it’s very rewarding to see.

Using Agile in the sales environment isn’t changing the methodology a particular team uses to sell, it’s simply adjusting ways of working to adopt lean practices.

 

It’s painful to see how much faster everything can go and yet the team feels like nothing can be changed. Once we inject lean practices into it we see how quickly things can move in a sales pipeline.

 

After some time refining and perfecting my own practice, I took my beloved original assessment tool and applied it to the Sales operations of mid sized companies with 5+ sales reps.

If you’re curious about the kinds of results you can get out of using Agile in sales here’s some of mine:

[+] One client tripled their results in 6 weeks

[+] Another increased sales by 400%

[+] And another shortened their pipeline by 2 months → bringing in $12m worth of orders after implementing my ‘Lean & Agile’ Sales Program

 

I can get these kinds of results because I’ve been injecting Agile into medium & large companies for 12 years, so I know what I’m talking about!

To be clear, what I do is mostly about optimising sales processes. You can see in this diagram, or as my friend rightly called it my “sliced orange” diagram, I’m focusing mostly on the right side: how we operate the systems we use. (You gotta love it when you are passionately talking about a serious topic like sales transformation, showing your friend a diagnosis diagram, and they refer to your creation as a “sliced orange”). 

Nevertheless, the technical jargon or term for what I really do is Sales Operation Excellence, which is a mouthful for saying “making things go smooth”.

As a sales leader, you’re responsible for your team’s results. Your job probably is not so much getting in front of customers, unless it is a key account.

As an Agile [Transformation] Consultant, I’m responsible for bringing innovative ways of working and managing sales processes to sales executives.

Sales is about solving problems and is always measured by $$$$, #### & %%%! I already pointed out how much I love numbers and between us I enjoy $$$ as well.

On one side I’m baselining the agility of a sales team and on the other side I’m baselining the team’s sales numbers. Then we get busy with applying the change. After one quarter we measure our results.

Now we can see how agile we are becoming.

Let me reiterate why this tool is so important: 

  1. First: it collates all the changes that need to be implemented in one place to ensure nothing is missed. 
  2. Second: the length of the list gives you a complete picture of how much work needs to be done.
  3. The third point: It makes improvement and progress visible!

Meet my new love Agile Sales Maturity Assessment Spreadsheet

Let’s go through the assessment

  1.  The Assessment has about a hundred lines that cover 12 areas of work.
  1. Objective Assessment: You don’t need an expert! Unlike most assessments where scoring is subjective and based on the view of an expert, these are things which can be observed by an outsider or a team member. As a result, regardless of one’s role – be it a senior manager, team member, or Agile practitioner, the score results are the same. Basically, it’s expert-agnostic.

 

  1. Simple grading method: for each line-item there are five conditions that examine team behaviours and analyse frequency occurrences: never; occasionally; sometimes; most times; and always. Again, one doesn’t need to be a member of the team (in most cases) to be able to observe and complete these observations.

 

  1. Radar: Who doesn’t like a nice spider web on a wall? With this radar – the rounder and bigger the results, the higher the maturity!

If you are all about quantifying processes and results; and are goal driven like me, you can see why I love this Excel workbook so much.

As a consultant, anytime I start working with a new team, I start with this assessment. Anytime any of my clients declares(!) they would like to change the way their teams work, I send them this excel.

  • The original grading was:
  • Level 1: Establish
  • Level 2: Efficiencies
  • Level 3: Flow
  • Level 4: Throughput

As this approach made it difficult for me to grade each line, I decided to simplify it so that, regardless of who does the assessment, the result will be the same.

Based on a team’s maturity level, we decide on the first milestone and ensure that it features measurable success criteria (e.g. the first milestone would focus on improving productivity or transparency).

After a quarter (Seven Sprints)

Here’s what I think is the best part. After seven sprints, I ask the team to perform a self-assessment. It’s important to ensure that this assessment is not done by management, or a consultant, or the person that did the original assessment.

I believe it should be done by all the members of the team, individually. You can’t, of course, mark your own work. Once each self-assessment is complete, the results can be aggregated to arrive at a useful takeaway.

Pro Tips

  1. This assessment is not the goal of what we do as Agile transformation practitioners.
  2. This information should not be used for any other purpose than to highlight the focus area for coaching/transformation and the opportunity to reward teams. It cannot be used to judge teams or be used against them.
  3. It should not take a huge amount of time. 1-2 hours of time for the initial assessment and a couple of hours following a team self-assessment to put things together. Timebox yourself!

Mini Actions

If you are a senior sales executive that’s considering going Agile, prior to inviting an Agile coach or Agile transformation consultant to join your team, I suggest doing this assessment yourself. The assessment is designed to save you time and bring you closer to your team.

If you can’t observe some of these identified behaviours in your team, chances are they don’t exist, so just trust yourself and your eyes. Also, you might want to use this tool to assess the effectiveness of your leadership in organisations. You obviously don’t need to share it.

You can download the assessment here.