Part 1 – 9 Disciplines for Driving Sales PerformanceBy Walter Rogers on March 4, 2013 in Cloud Coaching International - Walter Rogers, coaching, Sales Coaching, sales performance, sales productivity
In partnership with Walter Rogers, CEO of CloudCoaching International, Work.com is proud to present “9 Disciplines to Create Sales Breakthroughs in Turbulent Times” from CloudCoaching International’s “Pathways to Growth” learning series.
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Discipline 1: Conducting a Pipeline Update Meeting
“It isn’t the things I know that cause my problems; it is the things I think I know that just ain’t so.”
Will Rogers- Famous 20th Century American comedian
We all know what it is like to be blindsided by trusted assumptions that turned out to be wrong, and no place is this truer than sales pipeline management. This is one place where no one – not the Sales Maker and especially not the Sales Manager – can afford to make assumptions about what is going on with the pipeline. That is why it is so important for Sales Managers to conduct regular – at least monthly – Pipeline Update Meetings with their sales teams.
Most Sales Managers rely on two key tools to monitor Sales Maker productivity: pipeline and forecasting. However, highly effective Sales Managers understand that there is a difference between the two. Forecasting is focused on later stage deals – the ones that are far enough along that you can begin to get a feel for the likelihood of success in the current quarter. However, forecasting does little to help with future quarters. Technically, pipeline refers to every opportunity a Sales Maker might be working on – including the ones that are far enough along to be at the forecast stage – but there are many other opportunities in the pipeline that are not that far along yet. We can designate these deals as being part of the “forward” pipeline, because they are focused on the future development of sales that ultimately impacts later forecasts, and Pipeline Update Meetings are the most effective and efficient ways to have a solid understanding of what is really going on.
Like a “spring cleaning” where you organize everything that has accumulated over the year, the Pipeline Update Meeting is a mandatory 60-minute team working session held each month for all Sales Makers. The outcome is to update the stage, value and next steps of every available opportunity in the pipeline and give the Sales Maker and the Sales Manager a clear understanding about where the real opportunities are and what stage of development they are in. This team-wide event ensures that everyone begins the month with accurate pipeline information.
The Pipeline Update Meeting should be held within the first five days of the month, and can be conducted virtually or in-person. Pipeline data must be accurate in order for the manager to coach reps to raise performance. Without valid data, the Sales Manager is flying blind. Information that is obsolete, incomplete, or inaccurate can cause ripple effects that undermine the team’s operations.
Gather reps and open the meeting. Instruct them to update Opportunity Stages, Values, Close Dates, Next Action, and “Commits.” All updates should be entered in the organization’s CRM system. This is not a coaching session. Reps can dismiss themselves after announcing their pipeline to quota multiple to the team for both in-period and out-of-period.
Following the Pipeline Update Meeting, there are key questions Sales Leaders need to ask the sales managers and teams. The message here is simple: invest 60 minutes at the first of the month, or fly blind the rest of the month.
Pipeline update meetings are simple, quick and vital to the success of the sales organization. Everything the Sales Manager will do the rest of the month will key, to some extent, on the information learned and the commits identified during the Pipeline Update Meeting. The message here is simple: invest 60 minutes at the first of the month, or fly blind the rest of the month.
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