The Perfect Sales Pipeline Review Meeting

In college, I was friends with a concert pianist who had an unshakable hatred for the phrase “practice makes perfect.”

“Practice doesn’t make perfect,” she would say anytime someone uttered the phrase within hearing distance of her. “Practice makes permanent.”

This saying came back to me recently when I talked to a Sales VP who insisted on having Pipeline Review Meetings every week for the simple reason that practice makes perfect.

“If I manage open opportunities with my reps enough times, ultimately the process will be ingrained in their brains,” his thinking seemed to be.

While not wrong, this reasoning misses an important part of the puzzle: If you want to get the most out of your Pipeline Review Meetings, you need to make sure you’re doing them right, not just often.

And, unfortunately, most of the time, sales managers are not doing the right things in their Pipeline Review Meetings. More often than not, sales managers use these meetings to hold reps hands as they juggle their open opportunities. In fact, they tend to focus on late-stage opportunities or on giving reps garden-variety and overly general “closing tips.” This is not a good way to use these meetings.

Instead all sales managers should be using their Pipeline Reviews to improve the way their reps manage their open opportunities and prioritize their time.

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In this post, we provide 3 simple steps to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Pipeline Reviews.

(For even more detailed information on pipeline management, check out our FREE eBook: The Definitive Guide to Pipeline Management.)

 

1. Separate Pipeline Review from Forecasting

It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of using Pipeline Reviews to closely inspect the next 5 or 10 opportunities a rep is slated to close. This is natural because it helps a sales manager build or refine his forecast and decide whether he needs to take immediate steps to hit the number. But this is a short-term fix, and one that ultimately prevents him from truly improving his team.

Instead, a sales manager should focus on early-stage opportunities. These are the opportunities that manager’s can actually influence and the ones that he can use to generate coaching opportunities. How are you going to work this opportunity? What do you think the next step is? Why did you move it back from “Present Solution” to “Qualifying?

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2. Incorporate Sales Coaching

Coaching is one of the most important parts of a sales manager’s job, but most sales managers feel they don’t have enough time for it. Well here’s your chance! Work with your reps to make sure they understand and have a plan for the open opportunities in their pipelines. Always be on the lookout for coaching opportunities and use Pipeline Reviews to share these moments with your reps.

3. Establish the Right Cadence

Without a regular schedule, your reps’ pipelines can quickly clog or become decimated. You must work with them routinely to ensure a healthy pipeline — and this means establishing a regular cadence for your meetings. Hold at least 2 Pipeline Review meetings every month – one in the first few days, and once in the middle of the month.

Want to learn more about what the perfect sales pipeline review meeting looks like? Download our new FREE eBook now!

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