How to run the perfect sales pipeline review meeting

by Steli Efti

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The sales pipeline review. Probably the one meeting that makes your sales reps sweat the most.

But its purpose is crucial: Keep deals moving through the funnel.

Perhaps you’ve just put on your new sales manager shoes, or perhaps the way you currently review your pipeline is broken. Regardless of your situation, in this post, we’ll cover the basics of how to structure your pipeline review meetings.

Let’s make sure your reps leave the pipeline review meeting with a winning funnel that’ll accelerate their sales cycle.

Sounds good? Here we go.

The 5 risks of not running great pipeline reviews

First things first: What’s a sales pipeline review? A sales pipeline is the visual representation of all the deals a sales rep is actively working on and trying to get to a close.

This could be in a spreadsheet, on a whiteboard, or in an inside sales CRM like Close.io.

Without a sales pipeline review, you will:

  1. Not have an overview of the overall health of your team’s sales pipeline
  2. Not understand the external and internal context of the deals
  3. Miss challenges and threats in the pipeline
  4. Lack insight into your reps’ performance and capabilities
  5. Have sales forecasts that are off

A pipeline review serves as both a training tool for your reps and as an evaluation tool to determine the current state of your sales.

If you do your sales pipeline reviews correctly, it should lead to more closed deals and increased revenue.

The structure of a successful pipeline review

A sales pipeline review can come in many different formats. Based on the structure of your sales team, here are a few things to take into consideration:

  • Frequency
    • Weekly
    • Biweekly
    • Monthly
  • Size
    • 1-on-1s
    • Rotation
    • Entire team
  • Duration
    • Duration will vary based on team size, but regardless a 30–60 minutes meeting should be enough.
  • Structure
    • Review all deals in pipeline
    • Review only high-priority deals
  • Action
    • Each review should conclude with clear action items for each rep and their respective deals. These can be anything from how to tackle an obstacle, negotiate, or kill a deal.

You don’t have to have a set structure; trial and error is your friend. See what works for your team and your business, and adjust accordingly.

4 steps to run a review like a pro

Now that you have an idea of the format, let’s tackle what should happen during the review.

1. Ask your rep to provide a summary of the deal

First off, your rep should bring you up to speed by providing a summary of the deal.

The summary should include:

  • What’s happened so far?
  • What are the next steps?
  • What needs to happen to close the deal?
  • What’s the anticipated timeline?

During that summary, you’re likely to discover one or more obstacles that’ll jeopardize the deal. That’s when the next stage comes in.

2. Identify obstacles and challenge your rep

In order to determine the likelihood of the deal closing, you need to identify the obstacles that are standing in the way of the deal.

Here’s what to look out for:

  • Are there any gaps in communication?
  • Is there any missing information?
  • How has your rep managed objections so far?
  • What’s currently preventing this deal from moving towards the close?

For most deals, you’ll have questions about missing information. If there are a lot of things your rep doesn’t know about the prospect, it’ll be difficult to understand the likelihood of this deal closing.

3. Create action items that will move the deal forward

Toward the end of the review, you should have a clear idea of what needs to happen next in order to move the deal further along in the pipeline.

Action items could be:

You should know if the rep truly understands the prospect well enough to be in control of the process and bring the deal to a close.

4. Embrace urgency

If you’re reviewing a deal and something urgently requires action, such as sending an email or making a call, don’t wait until the meeting is over—act immediately.

The sales rep can leave the room, do what needs to be done, and then return and continue to participate in the pipeline review.

Maximize the ROI of every pipeline review

Perhaps one of your reps is missing some crucial information. If this is something that happens repeatedly, then it’s a red flag. The rep is simply not doing a good enough job qualifying their prospects.

While it might be unpleasant, address this immediately.

The great thing here is, when you’re coaching an individual rep on something, the rest of the sales team can also learn from that experience.

Everyone on the team can gain knowledge and ideas that they can apply to their own deals to accelerate their sales cycle.

Follow up on the last pipeline review

You want to do your pipeline reviews often enough so that you can remember what happened in the last one. This gives you the opportunity to follow up on the action items that were created and hold your reps accountable.

Check in on the most important deals and see how they have progressed since the last meeting. Ask for a full update on these before moving forward with the rest.

Using Close.io to review your sales pipeline

Every Monday, we do our weekly sales pipeline review at Close.io.

To get a complete overview of active deals this week, we use the Opportunities page in Close.io.

On this page, we see the following information:

  1. Number of opportunities
  2. Leads
  3. Total value of deals
  4. Expected value
  5. Value of individual deals
  6. Confidence level
  7. Expected close date
  8. Status
  9. User

image01-min-13.pngOpportunities page in Close.io.

Depending on the size of the deal (value) or specific challenges that need to be addressed, we look at the individual Lead page to get more context around the deal.

In the above list, pharma startup Techicare stands out.

Next, we go to the Lead page where we look at the entire interaction history.

image00-min-4.jpgLead page in Close.io.

The lead page gives us an instant overview of the deal and what’s happened so far. On this lead page, the sales rep is trying to close a $90,000 deal with pharma startup Techicare.

Here, in a matter of seconds, we can see three red flags:

  1. Sales rep waited 7 days to follow up after the sales demo. Why?
  2. Most recent call note has no action item. What does approval from CEO entail?
  3. There are tasks and notes missing in the timeline → Can’t get the full context of the deal.

The more information that’s provided on the lead page and its timeline, the better an understanding you’ll have of the deal.

In this situation, we’d do two things:

  1. Ask the sales rep to add the missing information.
  2. Create the tasks that are needed to move the deal forward.

In the next pipeline review, we’d see if those action items have been accomplished.

5 benefits of running pipeline reviews

Once your pipeline review has been completed, you should:

  1. Have a better understanding of the performance and capabilities of your sales reps
  2. Have more context around the deals in the pipeline
  3. Be able to more accurately forecast which deals will close
  4. Be able to adjust the expectations of both your sales reps and the rest of the team
  5. Be able to provide your reps with actionable next steps

If you’ve accomplished the above, your sales pipeline review was a success.

Next, take a look at your sales pipeline review process and think about how you can improve it.

Want to do your next sales pipeline review in Close.io? Try it for free for 14 days and see how it can help your sales process. Go ahead and start your trial today. (No credit card required.) 

Recommended reading:

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How to successfully evaluate sales calls with your junior reps (Free template included)
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