Any salesperson can tell you that managing your sales pipeline can be incredibly complicated. Organizing top, middle, and bottom-of-the-funnel interactions and setting up content and resources to facilitate the buyer's journey—then keeping that journey optimized—takes a lot of work. To get the most out of your team, you need to conduct sales pipeline review meetings.
The Meaning of a Sales Pipeline Review
A sales pipeline describes the entirety of your sales process. Prospects move from one stage to the next down your pipeline, and each sequence is different.
Your pipeline should be unique to your company and business model. The steps of your pipeline need to reflect where prospects are in their respective buyer's journey, allowing salespeople to keep up with their contacts and more accurately forecast deals.
That’s why it’s so important to regularly review your pipeline and make sure that you’re effectively guiding opportunities through your sales process.
6 Benefits of Conducting Pipeline Review Meetings
Pipeline reviews can improve your sales performance in a variety of ways. They can have an incredible impact on the "bigger picture" of your sales efforts—providing you with insight into your sales team’s processes, efficiency, and growth opportunities.
You Gain a Bird’s Eye View of the Overall Pipeline Health.
This is actually crucial for your team. It’s important that your whole team understands where they stand, both as a group and individually.
Performing a review meeting can also be an opportunity to share new ideas and train your team.
You Identify Recurring Challenges in Your Pipeline.
This is a chance to go over any impediments and recurring challenges. Oftentimes, salespeople face similar obstacles to one another without realizing it—they see these challenges as just something they need to deal with. Or, when someone does find a workaround, they don't actively share it because they don't feel it's their place to.
You can’t afford to overlook challenges, especially if they’re impacting your pipeline as a whole. A pipeline review helps you spot these recurring challenges, identify strategies for dealing with them, and disseminate solutions to your whole sales team.
You Gain Full Context of Each Deal.
You can hone in on each deal and better understand the circumstances surrounding each one. Not only will you be able to gain insight into that particular deal, but you’ll also be able to better strategize for future deals that may have a similar pattern.
You Can Forecast Sales More Accurately.
A comprehensive review of your sales pipeline can help you better understand how your prospects move through their respective buyer's journeys—how long they typically stay at each stage of the sales funnel, what percentage of them close, what influences the purchase decision, and how much each deal is typically worth. This, in turn, helps you forecast your sales more accurately so you know what your cash flow will be moving forward.
Which prospects are going to significantly boost business? Which aren’t quite ready to sign off? How can you get them there?
Meeting with your team to review your pipeline, prospects, and strategies will help you answer those questions.
You Gain Insights on Team Performance.
Pipeline reviews are also kind of like unofficial sales rep reviews. What are your sales reps’ strengths and weaknesses, both individually and as a team?
Look at each rep’s individual capabilities and performance. You’ll be able to better adjust your expectations of each salesperson while also providing them with specific tools to help them grow.
You Can Provide Action Items to Reps.
Laying out actionable next steps will help your team out a lot. They’ll walk away knowing what to do next and feel confident in their plans. That confidence leads to better engagement and more sincere relationships with your prospects.
The Sales Pipeline Review Agenda
There’s a difference between pipeline reviews and forecast reviews. Your pipeline assesses every lead, no matter what stage they’re in, while a sales forecast only looks at leads who are likely to close within a specific window.
They’re not the same and really shouldn’t be handled at the same time.
When structuring your pipeline review meeting, it’s important to consider the finer elements that will help the meeting run smoothly and be productive.
Considerations should include:
- How frequently should you meet: Should you meet on a weekly, biweekly, monthly, or quarterly basis?
- The size of your meeting attendance: Should you meet with your entire team or one-on-one with individual team members?
- The duration of the meeting: Do you need a full hour to cover everything with everyone? More? Less?
- The structure of the discussion: Do you want to cover all of the deals in your pipeline or only high-priority ones?
- The action items being laid out at the end: Make sure that the meeting ends with a plan for each sales rep and their deals, whether it be resolving a conflict or killing a deal.
How to Run Your Pipeline Review Meeting
Running a meeting doesn’t mean just starting off the conversation and then taking a seat. There’s a lot to cover in your pipeline review, so it’s important to understand what should take place in the meeting.
Here are some tips to help you conduct a productive and effective meeting:
Keep Deal Review Times Brief.
Even though it’s important to give each of your reps time to fill the team in on their opportunities and progress, no one team member should monopolize the meeting time.
You’ve scheduled a specific block of time to meet and it’s important that every person has an opportunity to speak, receive feedback and input, and then conclude the meeting with action items.
Ask your reps to provide a quick summary of the details, running through what’s already happened, what the next steps are, and any challenges they’re facing.
Structure the Meeting in Parts.
When reviewing deals, it’s easy to focus primarily on the high-priority ones that are nearing the closing stage. This is a mistake.
Those tempting opportunities can distract your team from fostering their newer, fresher prospects who are a bit further up the pipeline. If you only look at the end, you’ll lose all of the new deals coming in.
That’s why it’s a good idea to break your meeting up into segments dedicated to prospects in different stages – early, middle, and late.
Set specific time limits for each segment for every sales rep to make sure you cover a lot of ground.
Identify (and Brainstorm Solutions for) Challenges.
As each sales rep reviews their prospects, they may present unique challenges and obstacles that are situational to a specific deal. It can be incredibly productive when a team works together to find a way to tackle an issue.
Allow the review roundtable to finish before addressing any identified impediments, then brainstorm how to resolve those issues. Coming up with solutions will provide each rep with actionable items that they can get to work on after the meeting.
It’s important to know that if a deal is presenting itself to be particularly difficult, then you should table it for further work after the meeting to save time.
Be an Encouraging Leader.
The review meeting can often double as an opportunity to train and support your team.
Acknowledge successes and good ideas that are brought to the table. This will keep your sales reps positive and motivated in their roles.
If a team member has made a mistake or isn’t doing well, don’t knock them down or reprimand them. Collaborate in finding ways to help them improve. If it’s a serious problem, address it after the meeting one on one.
10 Pipeline Review Questions You Need to Ask During the Meeting
Following up with your sales reps should be a focused, organized, and guided process. In a free-for-all where everyone just throws in what they might think is important, you run the risk of not touching on important subjects.
We’ve compiled a list of questions that managers should ask their reps to keep the meeting informative and intentional.
1. Does Everyone Have Enough Coverage?
This will let you know right off the bat if your pipeline is in a healthy state or not. If reps are answering no, then the discussion should start off with finding out how you can start filling your pipeline again.
2. What Progress Has Been Made Since the Last Meeting?
This will give you insight into who’s actually moving things along and working actively toward meeting their goals. Underperformers will have the same information to report again and again.
3. What’s the Level of Commitment From Each Prospect?
Instead of reps boasting about the number of deals they’re working on, this question reworks the conversation to how many of those deals are actually going to be able to close. Sitting on deals isn’t the same as closing them.
4. Which Prospect Is Likely to Close Next?
This question will get your sales reps to actually step back from their day-to-day interactions with prospects and re-prioritize their engagement.
They should nurture each relationship, of course, but those who are getting ready to sign off should receive a different sort of attention.
5. What Will Help Accelerate the Decision-Making Process for That Deal?
Sometimes it takes a team to close a deal.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone has to be on the calls from then on, but it can be a great help to have your team and manager contribute ideas and assist in helping get a prospect to cross the finish line. This question will get the wheels turning on what the next steps should be.
6. What Challenges Are Posing a Risk to Us?
This is where sales reps can bring up their concerns about what’s holding them back.
A stagnant pipeline is a terrible thing, so asking this question regularly will help ensure that your sales team is working efficiently and with as little friction as possible. It can also help identify any blindspots, like a stalled deal.
7. What Objections Have You Experienced, and How Can We Build Them Into Our Sales Strategy?
Not every sale is easy. Plenty of sales reps have had their deals paused by skepticism, hesitation, or straight-up objections.
As frustrating as they can initially be, they also act as great learning opportunities. Your team can learn how to address a prospect’s concerns and then create a strategy that will avoid it in the future.
8. Who Are Our Greatest Competitors Right Now, and How Can We Stand Apart From Them?
Your sales reps probably hear comparisons to competing businesses frequently. Leverage that as intel on what your competitors are doing, and find ways to stand out from them.
9. Which Prospects Are Stagnating in Our Pipeline?
Are there any prospects who have been in one stage of the sales pipeline for an unusually long period of time or have gone past their expected close date? If so, why are these prospects remaining stagnant? Have you followed up with these prospects? Did they demonstrate any objections?
Be sure to investigate your stagnant leads and come up with ways to re-engage them—such as by creating a dedicated email re-engagement campaign.
10. Are All of Our Sales and Marketing Efforts Being Tied to a HubSpot Campaign or Other Centralized Data Tracking Solution?
To facilitate the sales process and the buyer's journey, your sales and marketing teams will often create a bevy of content resources (landing pages, website pages, emails, blogs, etc.) to nurture their prospects. However, keeping track of these resources and their performance can be tough when you have dozens of people creating hundreds of resources.
During a sales pipeline review, it can help to check with your team to verify that they are all associating the emails and other content they generate with a campaign in HubSpot (or another centralized data tracking solution if you aren't on HubSpot). This makes it easier for you to assess sales efforts and identify gaps.
Holding these pipeline review meetings is necessary to keep an eye on your team’s progress and the health of your pipeline. Not only will you keep in touch with your deals, but you’ll bring your sales team together by having them collaborate too.
Now you have the tools to start planning your own and get everyone up to speed. Take the lead over your sales process and introduce review meetings to your entire team.