Start small and iterate fast: Why an Agile approach to sales tool development reduces risk and delivers RoI faster

16 December 2020

Agile development is a well-established methodology in software development. But what does it mean? And why do we at POP believe that it is so important to the successful development of sales enablement tools?  

Agile is a methodology that has been used in software development for two decades and is now being embraced by other industries. It’s an iterative process – which means a project is split into multiple smaller pieces (sprints), with each sprint being worked on in order of priority. So, a core minimum viable product can be developed first and each follow up sprint builds and improves off the lessons from the previous sprint. 

This blog will give you an insight into the seven reasons why we embrace Agile across our whole business, not just our development work, for our clients including Syntegon, Wienerberger, Promega and Coloplast.  

POP’s Customer-First Blueprint® 

At POP we work with clients on the entire lifecycle of their digital sales tools. From the initial discovery and strategy to design, development, training, analytics and ongoing optimisation. 

Our Customer-First Blueprint® is an essential 5-step process, based on Agile, that we have developed to work with clients in the initial Discovery and Scoping phase of a project. The initial consultation phase of the Customer-First Blueprint® explores, identifies and prioritises our client’s business objectives and how they can better communicate with their customers. 

The process then maps everything needed to create an ultimate sales tool, from content and features to the technology, analytics and integrations with other business platforms.  

An example of a Customer-First Blueprint®

This process and resulting document is a blueprint for every stage of the development, rollout and ongoing updates. It establishes a strong foundation and prevents cost and time overruns, mission creep or the inclusion of ‘vanity’ content or functionality that doesn’t feed into the immediate objectives of the business, or would be irrelevant in a customer meeting.

What our clients say 

“We learnt what was possible and what wasn’t. We wanted to know what we could actually achieve. POP explained what the terminology meant and held our hand through the process, which is what we needed.”

Nick Elliot, Market Manager, Coloplast 

“My advice for businesses looking to develop an interactive sales tool? I’d always say look for someone that’s experienced in working with companies that are looking to take that journey and that can provide real collaborative insight. That’s really important. We had a really good (kick-off) session with the POP and Wienerberger teams getting to understand, not just our business, but POP’s capabilities too.” 

Dan Cheung, Lead Channel Marketing Manager, Wienerberger 

7 Advantages of Agile  

Developing our sales enablement tools using Agile results in these seven key benefits for our clients: 

  1. Tools for a range of budgets – Because Agile breaks a project into smaller parts it’s possible to release a sales tool that is still valuable to the sales team with the critical functionality included. But in the initial phase, more expensive or less important features are removed, so it can be developed with smaller budgets, with these features added at a later date.
  1. Speedy development – As we focus on core features, the sales team can have a tool to test out in the field with customers sooner. With the team using it and providing valuable feedback, it can be refined and updated quickly. Additional features are then released in stages and can go through the same test, feedback and iteration process.
  1. Realise your investment sooner – The tool is in the hands of sales sooner. So they can start to use it with customers sooner and deliver sales. Meaning you could start to see a return within weeks rather than months or even years, in the case of a larger experience. 
  1. Collaboration – Your sales team can use the tool with customers, test it, refine it and then start to flag any additional elements that were not identified as a first priority to be planned in a next sprint. This helps increase the buy-in from the business, sales, marketing and product managers. Plus it helps to demonstrate the value of the tool and the value of them being involved at every stage. 
  1. Stakeholder buy-in and adoption – Our Customer-First Blueprint® helps when selling in the concept of a sales enablement tool internally to stakeholders who may have little experience of technology or software development. Having sales involved early also means they feel part of the process and they aren’t having “another tool” forced upon them. They can input into the features and functionality, so they are actually getting a tool they need and meets their customer’s needs. The lower initial investment of producing a core experience means that decision-makers are more openminded to emerging technologies where there is less risk and more to gain.   
  1. Financial transparency – Budget creep is rare as the first stage in our Agile process, our Customer-First Blueprint®, clearly defines the costs of each part of the sales tool and the timeframe that the tool will be delivered within against agreed outputs.  
  1. Reduces financial risk – As various features and functions within the sales tool are costed separately and scheduled for development at different times clients don’t need to commit to large budgets upfront. The cost can be spread over time, this also means that if a feature becomes redundant before being developed it can be dropped without any cost impact. Agile makes development costs transparent and manageable. Added to this we always advise that the scope of a tool is restricted to one region, business unit, or product group to ‘test the water’ before a wider rollout.  
Example of the Showpad interactive sales experience
Sales Enablement Tool for Syntegon

Curious to find out more? In this video we discuss how we work with clients in the opening stages of a project. 

If you’d like to have an initial exploratory call then you can talk to me directly on the number below or just email. Our sector expertise covers many industries including Advanced Manufacturing, Medical Devices, Pharma, Construction and The Built Environment and Technology, to name a few, so we are bound to be able to share insights with you whatever area you’re working in. 

Stuart Janicki
Head of Customer Experience
 
If you’ve got an idea and want to chat it through then just get in touch. Or give us a call 🤙 on 0117 329 1712.
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