Retrospectives: The Key to Continuous Sales Improvement

March 9, 2010

At OpenView Venture Partners one of our core values is continuous improvement. It is a value that is ingrained in our culture and that we practice on a daily and weekly basis through a management methodology called SCRUM. Those of you who are familiar with SCRUM know that is just one flavor of agile product development methodology, and is not generally applied outside of product development. That being said, ours is a slightly modified version of SCRUM, but the guiding principles are still applied, and we coach many of the operational and management teams in our portfolio companies on how to apply these principles.

SCRUM allows for continuous improvement by having a team follow a regimented work rhythm, punctuated by frequent “retrospectives.” The purpose of a retrospective is to surface impediments and bottlenecks in a process, and to identify solutions and opportunities for improvement. From there, you prioritize the impediments and ideas for improvement and systematically implement solutions.

Applying a retrospective to a Sales team will take your normal pipeline reviews to a whole new level. It starts with trust, candor, and commitment from everyone that the focus is on improving the process and the team’s performance overall. As the team gets more practice retrospecting, they will become better at identifying the root causes of problems and bring more poignant and actionable ideas to each retrospective.

Companies that have embraced this approach in their sales and marketing teams have seen almost immediate improvement in sales performance and productivity. Some companies have similar meetings, but without the rigor and commitment from everyone on the team, the meetings are not likely to provide quite as much value as a true retrospective.

Do you retrospect?

If you are interested in learning more about retrospectives and scrum check out these links:

Agile Retrospective Cheat Sheet

Agile Scrum News Letter

SCRUM Alliance post on the New England Patriots


VP, Sales

Ori Yankelev is Vice President, Sales at <a href="">Own Backup</a>. He was previously a Sales and Marketing Associate for OpenView.