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#27 How to apply Agile Sales with Brad Jeavons


Hi, everyone. I'm Emily Jeavons. And today, I'm interviewing Brad Jeavons, who most of you will already know quite well, through hosting the enterprise excellence podcast. So welcome, Brad, to the episode. We're keen to uncover some of your thoughts and history into becoming an author, consultant, and podcast host.


Brad has always wanted to write a book; it's been a passion of his for a long time. Concepts of excellence and systems and culture in sales had not been written about before. Most sales books purely focus on techniques to engage, motivate, and sometimes manipulate customers. Whereas to achieve excellence, Brad feels it's a lot more than that. There was a real gap in the market, and Brad's background in sales and leadership allowed him the expertise to put the practice onto paper.

He grew up operationally on a farm, producing and making a few sales. And then into a university, where he mainly focused on Japan and operational excellence and everything Japan was doing back then. As a graduate, Brad was quickly employed in sales and marketing. He grew to love it and worked his way into executive and senior leadership positions.

And that's when he rediscovered the work called Lean and Agile, arriving from the IT world. Brad's experience as a senior leader occurred during the tough year of 2008, when the global financial crash had just hit. Brad's sales team were struggling. These new ideas gave them a great way to try new things and experiment and learn how to experiment and improve more rapidly to deliver great value and delight to their customers. It worked; it allowed Brad's team to rebound. And that was a catalyst of the book.

Agile Sales is such a unique sort of proposition because we all know that manipulation doesn't work with customers today or that ever worked back in the earlier times. Manipulation is not looked upon positively at all in today's market, and it doesn't lead to success. Customers want salespeople to be able to help them improve, help them achieve their goals.

The book was released in mid-COVID pandemic times. Many of Brad's customers found that gap that they needed and quickly took up Agile Sales that he offered. Organizations that Brad worked with learned how to pivot their direction and create effective outcomes remotely.

Agile and lean ideas are perfect in environments where things are uncertain. They are about experimentation, iteration. They're about learning. It's about the constant plan, do, check, act, (PDCA) scientific thinking. Sales are never black and white and are very uncertain. You've got a budget for the year, and that should be your challenging goal. But how are you going to get to that, and who's going to engage with you? You do not know at the start of the year. There's no linear path to it.

That's where the agile concept, built with solid, small teams working together and continually experimenting, is just applied so well. Fast forward to COVID times where the world is changing dramatically around sales teams, and it gets even better. It's enabled many companies to pivot rapidly and come back stronger.

One of the company's that Brad works with is Priestley's Gourmet Delights, in the foodservice industry. They had the bulk of their business cease when COVID struck. They embraced a lot of the Agile Sales learnings to their credit and pivoted quickly. They have bounced back exceptionally well.

Brad speaks about the 4 Ps of excellence for Agile Sales.

  1. Purpose

  2. People

  3. Process

  4. Performance


Without a motivating factor, very little change will occur. We are creatures of habit, and it's unlikely that humans will improve or change anything. What is the burning platform or just cause that will inspire people to change? Where are we going? What is our challenging goal? What is our reason for going there? Our motivator? The motivator could easily be the environment or social causes in today's day. Or an intense focus on genuinely helping people, which tailors so easily to customers.

Organizations can get stuck in the whirlwind of bad habits and day-to-day, and they lose sight of their motivator. They have to be reminded about the motivator and continually brought back to this purpose to fuel the need for creating change. If you want to change anything, whether it's one of five things, it's not easy, no matter how simple or challenging it is. Habits are hard to break and form. It takes a lot of motivation and practice.

Companies can also take on too much. And so Brad helps them to distil it down to one or two things. Brad mentioned Dave Stahoviac on the Coaching for Leaders Podcast and Dale Carnegie.

Creating a better future - our purpose

Our purpose is to create a better future. Brad is a mad keen learner, continually learning, continually looking for information and knowledge. And there's a lot of information and knowledge that you see in the world, both economically, environmentally, and socially, that is not good. And so you can get really dark about it and think, oh, my goodness, what's going on? What do we do?

Brad is always an optimist. He always wants to be on the front foot. So I guess that's what drives me in everything that I do; what can we do to help create a better future economically, environmentally, and socially?

Our kids drive it; we've got two young children, Charlie, who's 10 Miranda, who's heading for 3. And they're beautiful kids, and we want them to have a great future. But it does go more significant than that, to any child or any young person. Brad wishes for all children to have a better life than he has had.

And the only way Brad believes he can create a better future is to focus on it and take little steps every day. And so that's the purpose of writing books. That's the purpose of the podcast. That's the purpose of every bit of consulting he does, which helps organizations, so there are more jobs, less environmental impact, better social outcomes, and it makes things enjoyable.

Brad also spoke about the shared understanding of his Podcast guests. They want to create a better future in organizations and sustainable excellence (Peter Hines), or improve safety (Bob Hafey), or improve for the environment (Ken Webster) or improve the work that we all do (Jeff Sutherland). Many fantastic people are aligned with Brad's purpose.


A guiding light, mission, or purpose can help bring a team together, no matter their age. When each individual discovers it in their language, it can inspire and drive the whole group's motivation.

If a team member does not know their purpose, Brad recommends root cause, asking why that drives them until a more profound purpose reveals. This comes down to effective leadership: coaching your employees in a one-on-one session to show their potential. Effective leaders will understand each individual's motivation, drivers and goals. Helping them know where they're at now, and then help them discover themselves, how they can improve to bridge the gap and start moving forward. Leaders are using open probe questions and showing a lot of showing empathy.

Brad believes that culture also forms strong teams. He has seen so many great techniques that teams used to drive culture through Scrums. One group at Signet use a three H technique, where every team member will share a hero, a hardship, or highlight each meeting. This practice encourages people to show their vulnerability, their empathy and also their sense of celebration.

Brad also believes that connections between people result when they "work hard, and play hard" on both a work and personal level.

In today's era of remote work, how can this be achieved? Many technological applications, like Microsoft Teams, or Zoom, allow team members to get together. It's important to be creative - Friday afternoon beers, card games, board games or computer games virtually. Allow people to understand one another, laugh, carry on and create stories and folklore.

Sales teams need all the cultural and systematic, goal-driven approaches to achieve continuous improvement that an operational team needs or that an IT development team needs running Scrum. It's all about people, really whether you talk sales, IT, operations, finance, HR. It's about teamwork; people. How do we deliver improvement and excellent outcomes for the people we serve?

You can see how this approach would build tight-knit teams who understand one another.


Most companies build process based on their internal wishes and desires and on what they think is best. This is a sure way to lose touch with your customer, who will ultimately make or break your organization, your sales figures. When you think about building your processes and improving them, you need to do it with the customer's voice, front and centre. Customer journey mapping is a technique that Brad mentioned that allows teams to live in their customers' shoes. To re-think every step in their current process and align it to their customers' voice and experience.

The customer journey starts with discovery, where customers don't even know that you exist. It flows through the sales process to purchase and delivery and ends with devotion, where your customer shows commitment to your brand. You can plot and map every aspect of that journey from customer-facing, the salespeople, marketers engaging customers, to even the back-office functions and processes. Brad usually facilitates this in person with post-it notes, can also promote it virtually, thanks to recent developments.

Persona-maps and empathy-maps are two tools that accompany a customer journey mapping event. The maps will uncover who your most successful current clients are and who they could be in the future. You can find these two maps on our website:

Brad believes that customer journey mapping can uncover cultural and strategic insights into your current processes. Focussing intensely on your customer can alter workload. There will likely be large projects and small, easy wins. Brad believes in cascading any changes in short iterations so that no one is overburdened. He recommends revisiting the customers' journey in each planning cycle, rather than once or twice a year in usual strategic planning events.


The final 'P' is performance.

Performance is not a measure that you will work on independently; it relies on getting the culture right and focussing on the right actions: the challenging goals, lead measures, strategic execution and improvement. Results and performance will be the outcome. Brad believes that growth in sales can be tenfold, which is a fantastic outcome. He has stats to back this up!

Every organization is different, so every sales approach needs to be tailored.

We have put everything down on paper in the Agile Sales book We are happy to help set people in the right direction, so please reach out if you have any questions.

Looking into the future, we are looking to build the content we produce to help people create a better future. We have newsletters featuring free tools and techniques that you can download and two-minute tips with Brad explaining these tools. The first focus in on Lead and Lag Measures. Register on the website for access to these free resources. or and tick subscribe to the newsletter.

Coaching and support is an area that Brad is keen to offer. How do we help knowledge convert to action for people and become sticky? And that's probably the frontier sometime down the track, visionary.

Brad was recently interviewing Kelly Whelan on the enterprise excellence podcast. She's a leader in the circular economy. And she brought to his attention where the effort to achieve environmental gain on one part could actually create worse outcomes elsewhere. So systemic thinking and launching yourself (as in a helicopter) above your business and looking at it as a whole is essential.

Thanks for listening to us, everyone. I hope you gained some value and insight into what is it to be Emily and Brad Jeavons. We hope that you and your family are well.

Bye for now.


03:29min It's all about people, really whether you talk sales IT, operations, finance, HR. You know, it's about teamwork, people, how do we deliver improvement and great outcomes for the people that we serve?

06:57min But if you look at it, I believe that for any team to achieve change and achieve great things, you need motivation. And that's the purpose that so I think a team initially needs to be able to understand their challenging goals and where they're going or what they need to do strategically. But they also need to really understand why and what that motivating factors for them to really fuel the blood and take the journey.

10:44min It's really understanding that individual's motivation and drive is but also their goals, helping them understand where they're at now, and then help them discover themselves, how they can improve to bridge the gap, and start moving forward.

13.11min But I think teamwork comes through those social gatherings as much as they do at work. And every leader should consider that. Particularly in sales, where there can be a lot of pressure. I love that saying still, work hard, play hard. Because the play hard creates a lot of teamwork and bonds.

14:33min Now, particularly in sales, although it applies to every part of business, the customer will make or break your organization, the customer will make or break your sales team. So when you think about building process and improving process, really, we need to do it with the customer front and centre.


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