Agile Selling is Like Agile Development, Except it’s Different.

Chances are if you’re in tech, your company is doing agile development.  The engineers are down with stand ups, but what does it have to do with sales?  Turns out, a lot.  And a lot of the same factors that led to agile becoming the way to get things done in development are also taking hold in enterprise sales.

Agile development is in part a response to the unpredictability of customers, their requirements and time pressure.  It values individuals and interactions over strict processes and tools, and customer centricity and collaboration over…not being customer centric or collaborative.

Sound familiar?  A lot of enterprise sales professionals sum up their selling environments as “unpredictable.”  Many are navigating highly dynamic markets, where customers are far more informed than ever before, and where requirements change in the middle of a sales cycle.

There’s often a boatload of internal and corporate unpredictability too.  Companies reorganize more often than before, make acquisitions, forge new partnerships and otherwise move the chairs around the deck to keep up with, let alone stay ahead of, their customers and markets.

Traditional forms of waterfall development gave way to agile development when it became clear the old ways were less and less suited to changed circumstances.  Traditional solution and challenger sales techniques are similarly falling short in changed, highly dynamic selling environments.  For similar reasons as their colleagues in development, enterprise sales professionals are getting more agile.

So what does an agile seller do?  They embrace the change around them.  They know more about their customers and about the real issues that are driving them.  They think customer centric is more than a slogan and live it as a value.  And in the truest sense of the word, they collaborate with their customers.

OK think about this:  you get a marketing qualified lead (MQL), and the customer is asking you for a demo.  Cool.  Well, maybe.  Because starting with a demo takes you down a path where you’re showing the customer what you’ve got.  Which may or may not be what is actually fueling their need. Some call this “premature elaboration”.

Agile sellers qualify their customer.  Certainly to find out traditional qualifiers such as if they’re the decision maker, have a budget and are ready to buy.  They also qualify on the customer’s underlying problem and potential value proposition before ever reaching for the demo.  Only by uncovering the real motivations can you determine whether what you’re showing is really what the customer needs and if they are well prepared to buy.

Agile sellers collaborate with their customer: To map their solution to the customer’s problem.  To map their process to the customer’s process.  And to map the value they deliver to the customer’s value driver.

Agile sellers develop their sense of situation awareness and adapt. They respond to change rather than following a proscribed script.  They iterate constantly and collaborate with their customer to uncover and deliver real impact.

Agile sellers are a like agile developers, but with a number.

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