Pipeline Cleanliness Playbook: Four Lessons Learned

Pipeline cleanliness is critical to managing your reps, controlling your pipeline, and making an accurate forecast, but it’s a challenging and lofty goal. We recently hosted a small customer workshop for sales ops leaders to compare their successes, and collaboratively develop the Pipeline Cleanliness Playbook: Four Lessons Learned.

Lesson 1: Decide what you will look for, and when.

Answer the following questions with your operations team, and then ask your sales directors and sales reps to sign a document agreeing to your recommendations so your entire sales organization is aligned.

  • What does a healthy opportunity look like at each stage?
  • What does healthy pipeline production look like?
  • What reports and dashboards will you use to look for those signs of health, and outlier opportunities that don’t match?
  • Who will look for the signs of health, and when?

Here is an example of who should look for the signs of health, and when:


Lesson 2: Be smart about the proof and red flags you rely on.

The following highlights examples of opportunity data, what to look for and how to validate it:


Lesson 3: Enforce your team to follow guidelines and best practices.

Now that you’ve outlined pipeline cleanliness guidelines, you need to ensure your team adheres to them. Here’s a quick enforcement checklist:

  • Make it relevant for the exec team and sales management — they will be motivated by the fear of what they don’t know about the pipeline:
    • This is nearly automatic for larger organizations, where they have to rely on a system of record, and can’t rely on their own knowledge of each rep’s work
    • At a smaller company, consider how you could help management understand what they can miss
  • Develop a “Wall of Shame”
  • Notify the team when you’re pulling together a board deck
  • Set a KPI/bonus for high data quality

Lesson 4: Don’t forget pipeline generation

While we can get caught up in the cleanliness of our pipelines we’re trying to close, we can’t forget to review the pipeline our team is generating. We recommend scheduling pipeline callouts, in a separate meeting from the forecasting callouts. These meetings will help reps get out of the weeds of individual deals, and get them to pay attention to the amount of new pipeline they should be bringing in and qualifying.

We know there are many more lessons learned when it comes to pipeline cleanliness — what are some of your favorites?