3 Essential Questions to Ask in Every Sales Pipeline Review
Are your sales pipeline reviews efficient and effective?
I’ve had the opportunity to work with sales managers in various industries to improve their pipeline and forecasting processes.
Here are some common challenges I often see:
- You spend much of the pipeline meeting watching reps fumble through Excel reports, emails and Evernote to find basic information about their opportunities.
- You have almost no time during meetings to coach reps and are often blindsided by obstacles about specific deals.
- Because your meetings are inefficient, you end up using Sunday night to assemble your forecast reports.
If you struggle with any of these issues, I can tell you that you’re not alone. Most managers and sales reps are frustrated by the pipeline call.
I can also tell you that there’s a better way for sales teams to approach these meetings.
When I help customers implement XANT solutions, they immediately begin having very different conversations.
Use these three questions to make your sales pipeline reviews more efficient and effective:
1. Does each rep have enough coverage?
This is the starting point of every pipeline meeting. If there’s enough coverage, you can move on and talk about how healthy the rep’s opportunities are.
Conversely, if the pipeline is thin, this is your chance to talk about how the rep can fill it.
Sales teams that use XANT’s HD Forecast are ahead of the game, because all the relevant information they need about coverage is already assembled.
They don’t have to spend the meeting hunting for information and working out the math in their heads.
For example, a rep can immediately see if she’s on track to hit her quota. This sets the stage to talk in more depth about specific deals.
2. What has changed since last week?
Pipeline reviews are usually weekly, and often the first part of the meeting is dedicated to providing an update about what happened since the last meeting.
Valuable time is burned explaining how deals changed, what opportunities were created in the last week, what deals were pushed to next quarter, etc.
With the waterfall chart, opportunity changes are intuitively and explicitly organized into movement categories. Instead of discussing what happened, you can fast-forward the conversation to why it happened, and formulate a plan to drive deals to closure.
3. Where are the blind spots?
With a clear understanding of what’s changed in the sales pipeline, the manager can assess what risks might exist for each deal. Identifying these red flags in advance gives you time to proactively overcome roadblocks and build a healthy pipeline.
For example, a deal that has stalled for more than 30 days stands out like a sore thumb.
If your pipeline velocity is normally faster, you’ll want to flag that deal and discuss it in more detail to determine how you can move it forward.
Or, if a manager sees a deal that has been repeatedly pushed out, she can ask the rep for more information and help get the deal back on track to close in the current month.
Sales managers usually have the best intentions for sales pipeline reviews. They want to empower their sales teams to hit their targets and earn their commissions.
I love to see the “ah ha” moment when sales managers realize that their meetings no longer have to be painful. After implementing HD Forecast, managers tell me they feel more like coaches than administrative wranglers.
They’re also more confident about the information they take to the VP of Sales. And they report one final bonus: they get their Sunday nights back.
To learn more about effective sales pipeline management and forecasting, download the free ebook below.
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