Pipeline Reviews are notoriously painful. In a minute they can transition from a routine meeting to an inquisition that puts sales reps through the wringer.
A random survey of your colleagues will tell you nearly everyone involved hates these meetings, or considers them a waste of time. A shift is needed.
What can we do to transition Pipeline Reviews from painful to productive?
Apply buyer-focus to your discussion. Concentrating on the buyers keeps your team centered on the strategy of the sales win, as opposed to hyper-focused on the administrative tasks necessary to achieving it. Reps need sales leaders to focus on what they need to win deals, which is support that will naturally focus around the buyer.
We spoke with Sales Management expert Anneke Seley—author of Sales 2.0 and Next Era Selling, CEO of next generation sales consultancy, Reality Works Group, and the designer and first leader of Oracle’s worldwide inside sales organization—about tips for achieving this shift.
Tip 1: Consider the purpose of your Pipeline Reviews
Pipeline Review meetings are typically held to determine the health and quality of the pipeline in order to evaluate if we have sufficient coverage to make quota and understand the status of the deals being forecasted. Yet, “A lot of time gets wasted with administrative things the whole team doesn’t need to be part of.” A status update on a deal can slip into impromptu deal reviews or data hygiene discussions, which ultimately causes frustration. No rep wants to spend time they could use for selling activities on listening to their colleagues one-to-ones, nor have their fellow reps listen in on theirs. Save data entry demands and deal criticisms for your one-to-ones.
Tip 2: Create value for your reps
Anneke explains, the real goal is to “Make the Pipeline Review a two-way street. Make sure you deliver value to the rep, and ultimately the customer.”
You need Pipeline Reviews to build confidence in the deals for this quarter, and for overall pipeline coverage to be sure there’s enough brewing for next quarter. Operating at the list level with all the reps in one room helps to focus on the overall pipeline. However, to help your reps improve, you need to go beyond the list level and start positively reinforcing activities that lead to wins. As our colleague David Brock says, it’s time to catch your reps doing something right, and use these meetings to identify coachable moments that can help the whole team. When reps start seeing this positive reinforcement, reps start sharing their own experiences, successes and challenges. “This creates engagement from the sales team that benefits everyone,” Anneke explains.
Tip 3: Be clear on the preparation required for all participants
- For Reps: Have top level facts ready in the context of the sales process. Where is the deal at in the sales process and the buyers journey? The closer to closing a deal is, the greater the inspection of your deal and the more you will need to defend your position about the deal. Be concise and try to bring something insightful about the sales process that could be valuable to the team. Staying on point while sharing useful tips is a sign of a leader. Too many reps wander when talking about their deals. A focus on top-level facts and next steps driven by insights will set you apart in these meetings.
- For Managers: Managers should review the pipeline in advance. When possible, have a report sent to the reps that flags the deals they will discuss in the team Pipeline Review. This will help the reps to prepare their thoughts and ultimately lead to more productive sharing.
- For Marketing: Marketing should welcome involvement in Pipeline Reviews. Unfortunately, 90% of marketing materials don’t get used by sales. Attending these meetings helps marketers better understand what materials are needed to support sales in being buyer-centric. Be prepared to listen to rep feedback about sticking points and listen for opportunities to share materials that help buyers make their decisions in your favor.
Interested in learning more? Check out the Reality Works Group eBook on creating Sales Playbooks for Sales Enablement.