Pipeline Management- What Should You Do

By Kathryn Haring - May 25, 2020

Pipeline Management and Review (2 years) 

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A pipeline needs to be actively managed to ensure your actuals will meet your targets. The goal of regular pipeline review is to identify weaknesses in the sales process and then iterate to improve your approach. To that end, it is good to set the expectation for these review meetings to be improving strategy rather than a passive catch-up on what has happened. You want to maintain a proactive focus instead of a reactive one. 

The Impact: Active review and management of your pipeline allows you to detect bottlenecks and issues when they are still minor. You also stay on top of deal flow which minimized deal rot. 

Steps 

  1. Use the PDCA methodology described in Play: Quality Management Systems and the template provided to create a process to review and manage your pipeline.
  2. Considerations

Review Cadence: GST recommends weekly meetings with Sales Team and a separate meeting with your Sales and Leadership 

Your agenda for the Sales Meeting should include:  

  • Status of Sales Pipeline 
  • Current lead needs 
  • Market / competition intelligence collected 
  • Set priorities for week 
  • Monthly meetings 

Your monthly meeting with the Sales Team and Senior Leadership should include this on the agenda:  

  • Review of metrics 
  • Plan adjustments for next month to stay on target for quarterly goal 
  • Quarterly meetings 

Your quarterly meeting with the Sales Team and Senior Leadership should include this on the agenda: 

  • Review of pipeline and wins in prior quarter 
  • Review of sales team performance in prior quarter 
  • Plan adjustments that need to be made moving forward 
  • Set targets for next quarter 

Adjustments to the Sales Process: GST recommends discussing and planning adjustments to the sales process in each monthly and quarterly meeting. Generally, we recommend that you continue applying the agile method of designing and performing small experiments to measure results. This process ensures only changes that have the desired effect are made and prevents resources from being wasted on ineffective changes. To lead the conversations regarding sales process adjustments, it is helpful to have a regular set of questions to be discussed each review meeting. Pre-determined, regular questions allow your sales rep to come to the meeting prepared and keeps the conversation going in the direction you want it to. These questions are helpful: 

  • What positive (or negative) progression has taken place since the last review? 
  • What new opportunities have been added to the pipeline since the last review? 
  • Which objections have surfaced most often, when did they occur, and what was the response? 
  • What is the level of certainty that the deals are fully qualified to the company’s criteria? 
  • What is the probability / likelihood of closing each of the deals? 
  • What new leads have entered the pipeline since the last review? 
  • How much commitment has been given in relation to each opportunity in the pipeline? 
  • Are the proper decision makers engaged in each deal, and has a champion been identified? 

Actionable: 

Revising deals down in the pipeline: You have previously defined the criteria required to move a deal from one stage of the pipeline to the next [See Play: Pipeline Creation]. It is important to consider now how to identify a lead that needs to be moved back in the pipeline. For example, if a deal does not pass a stage in the pipeline in 1.25 the lag outlined in your funnel, then it should be pushed back to the prior funnel stage. A pipeline needs to be trusted to accurately predict revenue. To that end, it is important to put measures in place to protect your pipeline from being inflated. 

Nurturing to prevent deal rot: What steps can be put in place to address deals that have lost momentum? 

Re-engagement for lost leads: Leads do stall. It is helpful to have a classification system to label stalled leads and guide your re-engagement. For example, you could classify a lead as “poor timing,” which would then automatically tag that lead for a follow-up in 6 months to re-engage. 

Deliverables: Weekly reports are a good interface to keep the entire time up-to-date on the status of the pipeline. Metrics to include in this weekly report include: 

  • Pipeline report – deal number and value in stages 
  • Pipeline additions/subtractions 
  • Close won report 
  • Close lost report 
  • Rotting deals report 
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