Introduction:

In our last episode we talked about the 5 sales meetings every sales manager needs to master. Today we give an in depth explanation of the sales pipeline meeting. The sales pipeline meeting is a discussion of all prospects, at all stages, of your sales cycle. Learn it’s definition, how data plays an important role, what the pipeline review is, and what the outcome should be.

 

What we’re going to cover:

  • Definition.
  • Data.
  • Pipeline review.
  • Outcome.

 

 

Definition.

Pitfalls

“Most of the time the weekly meetings occur on a Monday morning. They sit down in a meeting and they start going over as a team the basics, they discuss the numbers, the forecast, what are you going to do, the sales activities from last week, then you talk about the opportunities, what you closed, what you’re going to close, where am I in the process of this? You start peeling back the layers on it and you realize what you’ve done with this is you’ve combined the sales pipeline meeting and the forecast meeting.

 

And you’re touching on some of the deals but you ignore the bigger picture of the longer term. You just want to know what we’re going now. And the pitfalls associated with that are

  1. Sales reps are hesitant to disclose anything they’re working on that potentially could put them in harm’s way. We all know the salespeople that put something, an opportunity, into the pipeline, when they know it’s going to close.
  2. You have sales reps that are giving you information based on how they feel. Not a whole lot of strategy behind it just a whole lot of feelings.

 

So, I’m going to tell you we break the sales pipeline meeting from the forecast meeting because they’re two distinct meetings. Yes, there is some overlap in certain areas but they are different meetings.”

 

Sales Pipeline meeting

“A sales pipeline meeting is a discussion of all prospects, at all stages, of your sales cycle. Whether you’re at the beginning or end of the process. Discussing your company, qualifying, doing a webinar or demonstration, presenting your proposals, and that goes all the way through the future.

So, think about it like this if you’re discussing the health of the pipeline and you’re discussing how you can improve your chances of winning a deal, and you’re talking about each stage of the pipeline or opportunity, that’s a pipeline meeting. When you’re getting into percentages and closes that’s not pipeline, it’s forecast.”

 

Data.

Activities.

“The pipeline review, why is that important? Well for one there are activities that need to be done to build a healthy pipeline. You may have weekly meetings with your rep where you’re talking about activity levels and those numbers and the metrics,  but if the metrics and activities aren’t being met then the pipeline’s not going to be healthy enough.

So, there has to be some level of accountability, right? To make sure that we’re looking at the data, to make sure that they’re on target.”

 

Health.

“The other thing you look at in the sales pipeline meeting is conversion rates, it gets healthy opportunities into the pipeline. What’s the conversion rate when it first becomes a lead into a qualified opportunity? That’s different per rep, and why is that important? Well it’s going to show you red flags, places where they get stuck.

So, those metrics not only help you define the health and well-being of the pipeline but it also helps you set a blueprint for helping your sales reps and coaching your sales reps.”

 

Pipeline review.

Sales Process.

“Next thing is the sales process, a milestone centric sales process is critical to having good pipeline reviews. Because you’re bench-marking against the process. The prospect has to meet certain criteria to move to the next step in the process. Why is the process so important? Because it aligns to how your prospects buy.

Let’s say the sales reps in the qualifying stage and there’s certain criteria to be met and that hasn’t been met yet, what do you do? You move it back in the pipeline. Ultimately what does that do for them and you? It puts them where they should be, it gives them a clear understanding of what they have to do to meet the objectives for the next meeting and it ultimately impacts the accuracy of the forecast. Because only good stuff is moving out of the sales pipeline into the forecast.”

 

Be prepared.

“Be prepared, look at the dashboard, look at the opportunities before you go into the meeting, take notes. I would advise you to put notes in the CRM about what they need to do next so it’s right there. So, the next time you have a sales pipeline meeting you remember what you talked about last time.”

 

About the rep.

“This is all about the rep, it’s not about you it’s about them. It’s about helping them to move opportunities forward. The sales pipeline meeting should be, in my opinion, individual. If you bring the whole team in for a pipeline review you can spend hours in their wasting everybody’s time.”

 

Frequency.

“So, what’s the frequency of your pipeline review? I’d say twice a month, beginning of the month and end of the month. And in between that you’re doing your weekly coaching meetings so it’s not like you’re just ignoring opportunities.But the pipeline reviews are for you to go through everything in that pipeline.”

 

The meeting.

“They need to be prepared and you need to be prepared. So how do you do that? They need to know inside and out the prospects and the opportunities in the pipeline and they need to have completed what they were supposed to complete last time. Obviously if they’re not doing that then they’re not moving stuff through the pipeline.”

 

Next steps.

“The next meeting you start with reviewing the things that they were supposed to do and you dive right into the opportunities. Are we bringing enough in? Are we meeting those metrics? Do we have a healthy pipeline? Let’s get the bad stuff out, let’s put the good stuff in. Ask the tough questions, move this stuff through the pipeline. Discuss next steps and what’s going in, what’s happening with those opportunities.

I can’t stress enough the preparedness from both you as a manager and the rep. Don’t just show up and say okay, what did we talk about last time? It’s all in the system, it should be, that’s part of holding them accountable, right? Holding them accountable for putting information in the system. Because as far as I’m concerned if it’s not in there it doesn’t exist. And then we’re going to have a problem on our hands when something shows up sold that wasn’t in the pipeline.”

 

Outcome.

Improved performance.

“At the end of the day if you separate the sales pipeline from the forecast and you don’t spend every week in a sales meeting with your team talking about percentages and closing, and you focus on the things that are important in the sales pipeline meeting, you will definitely improve performance. You’re going to improve performance significantly.”

 

Custom Coaching.

“Why? Because your sales reps are getting custom coaching. You’re spending time with them on their deals, on their opportunities in the pipeline, you’re holding them accountable to the activities that build a healthy pipeline, you’re getting all the BS out of the pipeline, all the stuff that doesn’t belong there, and you’re whittling down to the real good excellent opportunities.”

Then why is my pipeline shrinking?

“Don’t sweat it, if you’re doing your job you’re doing it right, you’re going to sell more. Why? Because it’s not filled with junk. It’s filled with real opportunities that have a chance at closing. And you’re showing progress week in and week out of the opportunities moving through the pipeline.”

 

Consistent performance and Growth.

Why are we doing all of this? For consistent performance and growth, that’s what we want. We want better higher quality outcomes, we want to sell more. And the only way you’re going to sell more is to focus on the pipeline reviews.

Yes, you’re going to increase the accuracy of the forecast and what does that do for you? Helps you predict growth, helps you strategize as a company, helps you see trend lines, all of that is valuable. But if you spend your time here and you do this right in addition to the coaching you will increase results by far.”

 

Keep Filling The Funnel

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover.  You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at jshea@alignment-group.com.  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.

 

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