A simple framework for the sales teams to operate in might look something like this:
- Only make commitments on products that are released and being shipped.
- If it does not do it out-of-the-box then do not make a commitment.
- Understand the iteration of the software department – know when sprints are starting and when functionality will be released – again the job of the Product manager to communicate this information to the appropriate stakeholders.
- Give feedback on requests for bespoke development, there may be synergy with other requests coming in from other sales teams with in the company.
- Product Managers compare request for bespoke work with agreed roadmap.
Technology teams and Product Managers can help shape an agile sales framework by:
- Being an example and demonstrate the benefits of using an agile framework
- Communicate the capabilities of the team (velocity) and let sales know that we can react quickly BUT it comes at a cost (i.e. diverting form the current work).
- Encourage regular and open dialog with the sales team to glean from them the problems their customers are facing - the solution just may be lingering in a developers or product mangers head.
- Update the product roadmap based on feedback and then feed this back, at the appropriate time, to the sales team(s).
- Accompany a sales man on at least one sales trip a year; this will help you understand the commercial pressures that the sales team are under – who knows it could lead to your career changing direction towards technical sales.
The combination of an ‘agile development frame work’ and a ‘sales agile framework’ is akin to a combination of "business sense and technical sense" – it’s just common sense.