This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.
- Pipeline meetings are more about reporting than discussion or strategy
- Pipeline meetings are focused on deals that are close to the finish line vs top of the funnel
- Pipeline meetings are often prioritized over coaching and development
These problems lead to inconsistent results and unhappy reps.
So what do you do about it?
1. Do a pipeline pre-check before your 1:1.
Your pipeline meetings should be considered coaching and strategy session versus a list of questions targeted at your rep. In order to make this shift, you have to hold each other accountable. 15 minutes before your meeting, check in on the reps pipeline. Is the baseline information needed to have a strategic conversation updated prior to the meeting time? If it is, great! Get ready to dig in with your team member. If not, let them know what they are missing and ask them to reschedule the 1:1 for another time in the week when they are prepared.
2. Get the Commit, Forecast and Upside Numbers ( and deals included in those numbers) weekly.
When Frank Swain came to ToutApp after scaling a number of sales organizations one of the first things he implemented was a weekly Forecast Call. The team was used to reporting a forecast to a manager but going through that same exercise, weekly, in a room with both peers and executives, adds a layer of intensity. The beauty of these meeting is, it promotes accountability (to both have numbers ready and share changes as the month and quarter progresses) and gives execs and peers visibility into what you are working on so they can help!
So why does this make your pipeline meetings better? You don’t have to ask about ‘the number’ or the forecast! Since you have the state of the state you can focus on the swing deals, deals at risk, or how to get more out of the pipeline you have….
3. Make the most out of the pipeline you have.
I have conversations with multiple sales leaders daily. I know that pipeline coverage is always top of mind. Proper coverage doesn’t solve ALL problems but it solves a lot. Alongside developing new pipeline, I would bet there ways to expand the deals in your current pipeline to get the additional coverage you need!
Depending on how many deals your team is working there is simply not enough time to step back and think strategically about every single deal, at every single stage. Focus in on two critical inflection points to maximize the pipeline you have (1) Discovery:The more you understand about your prospects business, challenges, goals, the better you can align your product or service to their need (Can this help more people at their company? Do we have an additional offering that would add value?) (2) Negotiation:Realistically your team is negotiating with buyers at every stage of the sales cycle, even if they don’t realize it. Make sure they know what is important to your business (gets) and what they can give that depending on what is meaningful for the buyer. These are fantastic opportunities to expand your deals. (Shout out to John Barrows who does a fantastic training on Give and Get.)
4. Take your sales cycle, double it and use that time frame for your pipeline meetings.
If your sales cycle is 60 days, look at the next 120. 90 days? Look at the next 2 quarters. Your team will know they should be ready to talk about the early pipeline, as deeply as they do the later stage pipeline. Between the pre-pipeline checkup and the weekly forecast numbers, you can choose a few deals to map out and think creatively about how to generate momentum in the account, early.
5. Pipeline meetings should be about your rep, not you.
We all have a number to hit, I get it. But you cannot hit your number without your team hitting theirs. My guess is you do not have enough time in your week to have both a pipeline 1:1 and a development 1:1 with each of your reports. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is choosing pipeline over development or coaching. It is SO short sighted. At the end of the day if you use the pipeline meeting time to strategize, coach, challenge and develop, your reps will close more and be invested in you and the company.
Leave a comment if there are other tactics you use that make for effective pipeline meetings. And I’d love to hear from you if you try one of these tactics.
Additional Tactical Tip: Add Opportunity Age, Stage Duration, Creation Date and an indicator of prospect engagement (I use: ‘Tout Event Count’). These are all great indicators of hidden momentum or potential red flags.