Why do some sales reps love fast cars? So they can speed quickly away from frustrating meetings with their manager.
When sales reps or their managers are ill-prepared for deal reviews, everyone involved gets frustrated quickly. It’s too easy for these meetings to become a relentless Q&A session, focusing on updating the CRM or badgering reps about what they don’t know. The more this direction it goes, the faster reps want to get away, and the less they will want to prepare and attend the next one.
So how can sales managers shift deal reviews to be successful?
We recently surveyed 400 sales leaders and discovered something profound: the top 12% of sales managers (as defined by quota achievement) are actually 15x more likely to consider their entire team coachable. Spend a moment to take that in: FIFTEEN TIMES more likely.
A coaching mindset is a powerful thing
Having belief in people and helping motivate them—that’s an impactful way to manage. A decade ago a mentor shared with me that the top three things he cared about in sales reps were guts, brains and drive. To him, if those attributes are in place the rest can be coached. He shared that managers should do whatever they can to keep that drive going.
So how can you apply a coaching mindset to deal reviews to make them helpful to reps and managers?
6 Ways to Improve Deal Reviews
Focus on their strengths
Reps want to impress you, and they have a drive to win. Try to approach your deal review with the mindset of tapping into their desire to win. How can you do that if they don’t know the facts you ask for? Spend your time helping them figure out a winning strategy instead of putting them under the fire for something small. What if it’s a repetitive performance issue that isn’t small? Have that discussion in a performance meeting so that you preserve the integrity of the deal review.
Take time to prepare
Take Benjamin Franklin’s sage advice: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” There are two components to the needed prep:
- Review opportunities in advanced. Inspect what you expect, as they say. Whether that be your CRM, a deal review template or a spreadsheet—wherever you track things—if you want your rep to do data hygiene, they are going to need to be confident that you look at it. Beyond that, review notes from their prior meetings and compare their activity to the sales process. This should well prepare you to see gaps and improvement areas.
- Use that review time to develop your questions in advanced. Think of questions that will help them move buyers forward. Use this time to help reps gain momentum and develop deal strategies.
If reps aren’t sure when they are meeting with you, they probably won’t prepare as well. If they are unsure of what you will ask, they probably won’t know what to prepare (and won’t have time to prepare every scenario). If you consistently deliver an ad-hoc approach, they likely will too.
So choose to be disciplined and they will be too. Set a regular meeting time and keep it, develop a set of questions you ask for every deal and come to the meeting prepared by doing your own review in advance.
You are busy. Your reps are busy. Efficiently structured meetings—with great preparation—build expectations of reliability and usefulness.
Give them focus
Meet your reps for deal reviews one-on-one. It can be tempting to schedule a group of reps for updates at once. That tactic might help you meet a reporting deadline. But as soon as it becomes a group meeting, it’s more likely to turn into a more difficult discussion. Reps will feel more comfortable one-on-one with you than being called out in front of their peers.
Establish clear next steps
As Stephen Covey coined, “Accountability breeds response-ability.” Once you’ve prepared well and held a great meeting, it’s critical to hit it home with next steps, and include those actions as part of what you check in your prep for the next time this deal makes the deal review process.
Want to learn more about the 400 sales leaders we surveyed? Download the eBook.