How to flush out the problems with your sales pipeline review meetings
The sales pipeline review is supposed to solve problems that are preventing deals from being realised.
Typically held weekly or fortnightly, this meeting draws together individual sales team members and their manager or the whole sales team.
Whether held individually or collectively, it will place the status of pending deals under the microscope, in an effort to try and remove any obstacles that prevent closing these deals.
But, here’s the thing:
Poor sales data, misaligned teams, lack of communication, unrealistic expectations and interpersonal clashes can often lead to as many ills with the physician as the intended cure.
The pipeline review is a critical tool for accurate forecasting – so here are some healthy purges you can prescribe to flush out any problems.
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1. One-to-one or one-to-none
A team pipeline review fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the salesperson.
In theory, you will be efficiently and effectively using lessons learned from one pipeline to coach others at your group meeting – in practice, your team will switch off if their deals are not currently on the table.
Individual reviews will be shorter and much more productive.
(Quick note: this does not hold true for account-based marketing, where sales and marketing teams are collaborating on each account.)
2. Automate the pipeline to keep it clean
The simple fact is that you can hold as many review meetings as you want but if your pipeline is not maintained efficiently things will start to clog up.
The four-letter word here that creates these problems is ‘data’.
The solution is to remove the responsibility away from your sales team to maintain accurate data in your CRM and automate data entry wherever possible.
Artificial intelligence and automation create A* data. Add them into the mix and not only will your data improve but your team will have more time to focus on closing deals rather than entering data.
3. Let the countdown commence
When it comes to time and productivity there is a diminishing law of returns for the pipeline review meetings: allow too much time and focus starts to drift into chat or concerns deep drive into strategy.
Half an hour is all you need to place active leads under the spotlight. The ‘how’s your father’, sales philosophy, mentoring and navel gazing can be slotted in another time.
The word ‘review’ can be misleading. This is 100% forward-looking not raking over the coals of what has happened. It is about ‘what will be done to move things forward’ not ‘what didn’t you do’.
Your meeting should be clearly structured to ensure that greedy, ‘problem’ accounts don’t swallow up all the time. Set a timer to alert you when the allowed time for each account has been hit: it’s a great way to keep things on track.
For instance, if you have four accounts to cover, allow a five-minute overview, five minutes on account one, five on account 2, five on account 3, and five on account 4. This leaves you with five minutes to wrap things up and confirm action points.
4. Make sure all exits are clearly illuminated
The thing about leads in a pipeline is they are not an amorphous mass. They need clear definition and organisation.
It is critical that everyone agrees exactly when a lead is ready to move from one stage to another. If not, how can you agree on the best way to keep them moving or to identify that they have stalled?
Usually, the best way to do this is to make sure certain conditions have been met.
Take, for instance, defining whether a lead should be moving from qualifying to demo stage. The following three criteria could be used to define the lead as ready and able to move on. The only question remaining, then, is are they willing?
Has there been a clear use case stated for our solution?
Are there any technical impediments preventing use of our solution?
Is our price tag going to match available budgets?
How to keep your pipeline reviews clean and effective in twenty-five words
In 25 words:
Pipeline reviews should be:
Based on clean, complete data and clearly defined pipeline stages
Concluded with accountable action points
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