Being an agile seller in today’s business environment virtually guarantees a prosperous career; it becomes your competitive edge.
Jill Konrath, an internationally recognized B2B sales thought leader, gave a keynote speech on the Agile Selling Imperative at the Sales Acceleration Summit (hosted by InsideSales.com) that had some big names buzzing in the Twittersphere:
If you missed her keynote, don’t fret! In this article, I’ll go over key takeaways from her presentation on what agile selling is and how to adopt an agile mindset in sales.
What is agile selling?
“Agile” means the ability to move quickly and easily. You may have heard of “agile learning” or “agile thinking,” buzzwords that emerged from software development teams and are associated with adaptive planning, evolutionary development, and rapid, flexible response to change.
Although the agile methodology is not typically associated with Sales, Jill argues that salespeople of all levels must adopt the agile mindset to keep up with today’s ever-evolving sales environment.
Change comes in infinite forms: perhaps your company developed new products or features that your sales reps need to quickly learn how to sell. Or maybe your company has decided to penetrate new markets, but there is a learning curve for reaching these new decision-makers and making them budge from the status quo. How about when a new competitor enters the marketplace – how will your team learn what they do how to differentiate your company to prospects? These are only a few examples of the complex selling environment we live in.
Jill warns us that our businesses are not standing still, and neither should we!
To ensure your sales team remains successful during times of change, you will need to learn how to adapt at a quick pace.
The Agile Selling Imperative
It can be daunting to know you have to do all this learning and adapting at the same time you’re expected to meet your quotas and hit your goals. But the only way to learn quickly and meet your sales goals is by learning how to learn.
That’s what agile selling is: learning how to quickly assimilate new information and pick up new sales skills.
Think of it as having a plan for how to learn new stuff when change happens. Instead of scrambling to learn everything all at once about something new, you’ve already mapped out a “path to proficiency” that will guide you and your sales team to success.
And it all starts with an agile mindset.
Jill’s 4 steps to an agile mindset
How agile sellers approach learning is very different than how typical people do: they don’t just learn; they think consciously about how they’re learning. To get up to speed quickly in the face of change, it boils down to mindset.
#1: Success is a decision. Dare to choose it.
Any time you have to learn new information and new skills, it’s tough. But you’ve got to do it – you’ve got to make the choice to learn those new things if you want to be successful in the long run. Simply trying new things isn’t enough – you’ve got to go deeper and “wrestle the beast to the ground.”
#2: Transform sales “problems” into sales challenges.
Research shows that when you treat something as a problem, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol that shuts down your creative problem-solving skills and severely hinders your ability to come up with new ideas, strategies, or approaches to help you emerge from the issue.
When you think of these sales problems as challenges, you’ll become energized, your brain will kick into gear, and you’ll be much more adept at coming up with new ideas to arise successfully from the predicament.
#3: Reframe failures as valuable learning experiences.
You’re bound to fail a few times when you’re learning something new – the key is to be really self-aware about why you failed, what you did well, and how you can do things differently next time.
Don’t miss out on the learning part of screwing up. When you fail, shift into “learning mode” where you deliberately take the time to figure out what happened and what you could improve. If you do this, you haven’t failed – you’ve grown.
#4: Turn performance goals into “getting better” goals.
Finally, turn your performance goals into improvement goals. Research shows that focusing on winning is less effective than focusing on getting better. Instead of trying to be the best all the time, work on the things you specifically need to improve. Over time, you’ll grow faster professionally.
The mindset is just the starting point. Over the years of working with sales teams in all different industries, Jill has developed, tweaked, and perfected an agile learning methodology, which she culminated into her book called “Agile Selling.” I highly recommend reading it to learn more in-depth strategies for implementing the agile selling methodology for your own sales team!
Jill Konrath’s expertise has been featured in Fortune, The New York Times, ABC News, Wall Street Journal and many other media outlets. In 2012 alone she was recognized as a Sales Stars by Success magazine and one of the Top 3 Sales & Marketing Thought Leaders by Top Sales Word.