5 Tips for Running a Pipeline Review Meeting That Matters
When you say “pipeline review meeting,” what mental images pop into the minds of your salespeople? If you suspect images of stopped clocks or even the dentist’s chair, it might be time to review how such meetings are run before the next one is scheduled.
Sales managers have pipeline review meetings to keep deals moving through the sales cycle and to ensure reps are focused on those deals that are more likely to close. Such meetings also provide insight into sales opportunities so businesses can more accurately forecast revenue. In addition, they keep sales reps accountable and on track, enabling managers to spot opportunities for improving sales tactics and offering training or advice when needed.
As a result, these meetings can make a big difference to the bottom line. In one survey of B2B companies, those that reported having ineffective pipeline management had an average growth rate of 4.6%. On the other hand, companies that reported effective pipeline management had an average growth rate of 5.3%. That’s a significant 15% increase.
Despite all of the benefits that can come from a pipeline review meeting, however, such meetings can seem to drag on forever if not organized properly, leading to dread on the part of the sales team and a lack of focus that does nothing to help close sales or communicate opportunities.
To make sure these meetings matter and make a difference, apply these 5 tips to your next pipeline review meeting. These tips will keep you and your sales team focused on the end goal, and the meeting time productive and positive.
Tip 1: Use your CRM to automate your reports
If your sales team is using the CRM correctly, the data should all be there right at the click of a mouse when you need it. Generate and review the reports prior to the meeting and be ready to ask questions. That way, you’ll have the most up-to-date information about sales leads and opportunities. Talking about the reports during the meeting will also help to add color to what you as a manager are seeing on the screen.
Tip 2: Separate opportunities from leads
When you separate opportunities from leads, you make possible focused conversations about each, but you might need to establish the definitions of each for your team. Prior to your next pipeline review meeting, make sure you have clearly defined all relevant terms, such as a lead, an opportunity, a marketing qualified lead (MQL), etc.
After establishing the definitions for each kind of lead, prioritize your meeting agenda accordingly. Pipeline review meetings are meant to focus on those leads already in the pipeline, to discuss how you are going to get them from prospect to closed deal. Don’t waste time discussing future prospects that aren’t even in the pipeline yet.
Tip 3: Make sure your meeting is more than a roundtable of sharing
If your pipeline review meetings typically consist of going around the table and asking sales reps to report on where they are at with leads in their pipelines and that’s it, you could make better use of that time and gain more insight into what is really happening in the sales cycle. Remember, your pipeline review is also your opportunity to know where sales reps might need some help, tapping into your experience and expertise, and to help them focus where they should. Make it more than a roundtable.
Tip 4: Log next steps, owners and deadlines
During the meeting, keep track of next steps and owners, and add these tasks to your CRM complete with deadlines. Giving sales reps ownership of these next steps gives each member specific tasks and goals to work towards. And when you’re tracking your pipeline and prospects along the way, the easier it is to track everything all the way to completion.
Tip 5: Focus on the positive
A pipeline review meeting isn’t a time to come down hard on one of your sales reps. Rather, it’s an opportunity to help salespeople feel like they aren’t alone, and for you to offer encouragement and constructive advice. Run well and done well, pipeline review meetings can be something sales reps actually look forward to and learn from, increasing the likelihood that they will close that sale.
According to CSO Insights, about two-thirds (65.7%) of firms see a need to increase effectiveness by knowing why they win or lose. Pipeline review meetings can enable that insight, plus generate a big increase in the effectiveness of your sales team when they are well-run, organized, and focused on the end goal.