Better Sales Pipeline Reviews: Becoming Sherlock Holmes

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If you’re a sales manager, chances are you have conducted many pipeline reviews over the course of your career. And also likely is the probability that many of these reviews involve “storytelling” at its finest – a veritable treasure trove of “who said this” and “who promised that” coming from your sales reps. While these accounts of sales activity may sound interesting, it likely will not get you the desired result: evidence that points to revenue in your pipeline.

In the same way that detectives seek DNA at a crime scene, great sales managers, as well as great sales reps, are like detectives seeking physical evidence in the quest for closed sales deals. They push back, don’t take shortcuts and challenge their reps and customers to understand whether there really is a deal at hand or if they are wasting their time. The reality is that everyone is working towards the same goal so while sales professionals don’t intend to “tell stories,” they are also some of the most optimistic and hopeful people you will ever meet (a requirement for being in sales) and they want to achieve results. So how do you harness this optimism and ensure that the sales activity will lead to closed deals through your pipeline review process?

In the end, it’s the responsibility of the sales manager to demand the actual evidence that there is truly a viable deal in each case. This involves building a process where salespeople score each deal based upon physical evidence which not only drives forecasting ability but also allows for more efficient use of time.

Questions to uncover physical evidence of a truly viable sales deal:

  • Has the salesperson identified and met all of the key players?
  • What has the salesperson done in order to move a deal forward and what has the customer done?
  • Does the rep have written confirmation from the prospect/customer agreeing that they have the trusty “BANT” – budget, authority, need and timeline?
  • Has the salesperson contacted the appropriate sponsors within the company to confirm this? Can he/she prove it?

In the end, the lesson for sales managers and sales reps alike is that we cannot solely rely on the word of a customer. In these situations, the old adage “Actions speak louder than words” really does apply. Proof of actions is required and will prevent pipeline reviews from becoming a waste of time.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tim Haller
Tim Haller has over 25 years of sales and sales management experience. He has delivered training and consulting to Fortune 100 clients across a variety of industries, including technology, business services, travel/leisure and biotechnology. Tim has trained hundreds of sales professionals to close business through the use of effective sales prospecting, negotiation, and closing techniques.

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