Detailed pipeline reviews should be held at the start of every month. Your best bet is to complete this task with a manager, VP, coach or other third party who is capable of providing a second look with a fresh set of eyes. Sure, it can be painful, but it is the only way you can receive an objective view on what is really expected to close, and how you are going to get it closed! Too often sellers are blinded by what they are feeling, rather than what is actually happening inside the account.
The following questions need to be asked on a deal by deal basis:
- How do you know this deal will close this month? What proof do you have? What obstacles are still in your way?
- When is the last time you spoke to the client? Was that a conversation, meeting? email or voice mail? What are the next steps and when?
- What did they say?
- What is stopping them from buying right now?
- Who else are they considering?
- What is your next step? What other contacts can you make inside the account to secure this sale now?
- When will you complete that step?
- If you know what the client needs to make a decision, what is stopping them from making that decision now?
Deeper questioning is required when you receive answers with the following phrases:
“Not sure but…”
“As I understand it…”
” I’m sensing that…”
‘I just know…” etc
Why? Because these phrases lead to assumptions. Not facts. Do you “know that” for sure? or are you “sensing it” to be the case? A solid pipeline requires proof that you know exactly what is happening based on direct conversations with the client. You will not close business based on assumptions.
The following items are red flags that require rigorous questioning:
- Deals slated to close this month that are still in “Qualification phase/stage” or lower.
- Deals slated to close this month that have anything less than a 70% probability to close
- Deals slated to close this month that don’t have a $$ figure assigned to them
- Deals slated to close this month that have a “last contact date” 2 weeks or more past
One of two things are happening when you see these red flag items. Either, (1) the seller does know the missing information and the pipeline has not been updated with accurate information. – AKA you have a lazy sales person. OR (2) the deal is not as real as it appears to be, and must be pushed further into the year, or eliminated from the pipeline completely.
When you are completed the review you will undoubtedly have a smaller pipeline. But it will be a more real pipeline. You will also have a plan of attack for each deal and know exactly what it will take to get the deals closed, or moved closer to a decision. Now the rest of the month can be spent executing your plan!
Dedicated to making this your best year yet,