Before I kick this blog off about how to conduct the right kind of pipeline meeting, I will start with two simple premises about sales.
There are three kinds of sales:
What you create
What you get
What you repeat
There are three sales activities a salesperson has to focus on:
What you create
What you advance
What you close
It’s so simple yet so frustrating. Why? Because the single most important part of any pipeline is the activity of creating yet this is the area that receives the least attention by sales reps and sales leaders.
Focusing on what a salesperson creates should be one of the core focuses of your 1:2:1 pipeline discussions moving forward.
SALES MEETINGS VERSUS PIPELINE REVIEWS
I have been eager to write about the right way to conduct a successful pipeline meeting given I have seen many sales leaders do it wrong, including myself. In the past, I would conduct the 1:2:1 by going over the salesperson’s pipeline account by account. It was a boring exercise and one that never left me nor the salesperson feeling like they left the meeting better for it.
I have also consulted for companies whose sales meetings were entirely focused on reviewing individual pipelines in front of the whole sales team. I am guilty of perpetuating those activities too. These types of sales meetings are boring, demotivating and frankly, a huge waste of time for the others in the room. And, for those sales reps not close to hitting quota, it is a defeating exercise versus one where people leave the room with tools and inspiration to put the required effort in to improve the outcome.
Sales Meetings are not a time to discuss individual pipelines.
The purpose of a weekly sales meeting, or stand up if you chose to use that type of meeting orientation, is to:
Review one win in detail where the salesperson can share how it happened and turn these into best practices for the rest of the team
Review one sales challenge and deal storm the solution
DEAL STORMING 101: Here’s how to conduct great deal storming in the sales meeting setting. One person each week gets selected to bring in a deal where they are stuck. They present the deal to the team and each team member is allowed to ask two questions about the deal. Once the questions are asked, each team member offers feedback and possible solutions to move the deal from "stuck" to "back in business". Have one person in the room take notes so that the deal storming session is memorialized and shared for future use. I recommend that sales leaders bring up the deal storming session in future meetings to discuss progression. It's important that your sales team believe that the deal storming activities create positive results.
The biggest takeaway for your sales meetings is that all participants must leave the room more energized and better equipped to hit their quotas and KPIs.
1:2:1 PIPELINE MEETINGS
In addition to your weekly sales meetings, as the sales leader, you need to foster individual connections with each and every one of your sales reps. We talk about how to do this in my blogBig Picture Planning: Why Sales Leaders Fail. The weekly 1:2:1 pipeline review is part of this relationship building and coaching strategy.
Pipeline meetings are where you hold your salesperson accountable for doing their job which, as we said earlier, consists of three activities:
In pipeline meetings, you should not:
Pull up your CRM and go over every single deal that is open
Focus on closed/lost
Leave without establishing expectations for the next meeting
Your new 45-minute 1:2:1 weekly pipeline meeting - your salesperson's accountability meeting - should focus on five core areas:
What did you add to the pipeline since we last met? Your salesperson's response can consist of inbound and outbound opportunity creation. Both areas of lead generation are critical to address but I want to emphasize how important it is to dive into the outbound part, even if you have an outbound/inbound SDR team. New opportunity creation also includes up-sell, cross sell, and expansion into new buying centers within existing accounts. If your salesperson does not take ownership for their own new opportunity creation, they have a failed strategy in place. In fact, I can 100% guarantee they will fail.
What are those opportunities worth? This is the time where you dive into those new opportunities and understand what is being pitched and help identify ways to amplify and/or move to close faster.
What deals have you advanced since we last met? Advancement of the pipeline demonstrates how your salesperson is nurturing deals, following steps in the sales process, and not letting their pipeline “rot.” This is where you can identify where you can step in to ensure deals don’t stall, that you are not losing to a competitor because they are responding faster and better to customer needs than you are and where your expertise can help accelerate deal movement to closed/won.
What actions are you taking to drive any stalled deals? Here’s where you can identify deals that were once “hot” but have since gone into the Bermuda Triangle. Find out what happened, what the plan of attack is to reignite, and areas where the salesperson can use your help. Or, make the hard decision to put on the back burner or move to closed/lost since it may not have been an ideal client in the first place.
The last part of your meeting should review where the salesperson stands against agreed upon activity levels and KPIs, their Big Picture Plan, and how their activities and results map to the rest of the team’s. You can utilize tools such as Sales Rep Scorecards that integrate with your CRM data to report and present accurate sales rep comparisons.
The conclusion to your meeting should include:
Recognition and praise for high performance activity levels and output
Agreement on the deals where you will jump into help and how you are going to do that.
Agreement on what your expectations are for the next 1:2:1 for new opportunity creation and deal advancement
Coaching on how to improve agreed upon gaps
I have learned a better way to conduct sales meetings and weekly 1:2:1 pipeline reviews. Had I been armed with this knowledge earlier, I think my sales teams would not only have performed better, they would have enjoyed and found value out of these meetings versus attending with the typical dread.
Let me know if you have any questions or want to learn about tools that can help you with holding your new weekly 1:2:1 pipeline reviews including Sales Rep Scorecards. Or, if you have any additional tips or feedback, please feel free to comment below or send me anemail.