I sit in hundreds of review sessions every year. Pipeline reviews, territory reviews, account reviews, opportunity reviews, call reviews. An odd thing happens in about 90% of the reviews, they all become deal reviews.
Think about the last pipeline review you participated in. It starts out with a review of the pipeline, pretty soon, someone–perhaps the manager, perhaps a participant, perhaps the sales person doing the review, focuses on a particular deal. All of a sudden the conversation shifts and becomes a deal review. Seldom do we get back to reviewing the pipeline, if we do, it’s only for a moment. Soon another deal is highlighted and we get into another deal review.
The same thing happens in account or territory reviews. We start talking about the account or territory plan, and within a few minutes, a deal pops up and we shift our focus to a deal.
I see this in review session after review session. We start with one type of review and soon the review shifts to talking about deals. It’s no wonder, as sales people or managers we’re continually focused on doing deals–chasing opportunities. It’s natural that we shift, almost unconsciously into deal reviews. We end up never completing the review we had intended.
Deal reviews are important–we want to look at what it takes to win, how we can maximize the deal profitability, how we can reduce the sales cycle. We all gravitate to talking about deals.
But we can’t overlook territory, pipeline, account, and call reviews. These are important–each serves a different function, each important to achieving our goals.
Reviews serve two important purposes–both for the manager and sales person. First, they help us manage the business. They help us understand what’s happening, whether we are going to achieve our goals, or to identify problems or obstacles. The review process is a powerful coaching opportunity. Managers need to leverage these reviews to help develop their people, sales people need the coaching, help, insight to help improve their performance.
Each review has a different focus and objective.
Deal reviews: We spend a lot of time on deal reviews–rightfully so, this is where we spend most of our time. The objectives of a deal review are to determine how we maximize our probability of winning, how we compress the cycle, how we maximize deal profitability. As managers or sales people, we want to make sure we are positioned to win, that we are aligned with our customers, creating the greatest value possible.
Pipeline reviews: Funnel or pipeline reviews are critical. They enable us to look at all the all the deals we are pursuing. Do we have enough deals to achieve our quotas? Do we have good flow through the funnel? Is anything getting stuck? Are we feeding enough new deals into the top of the funnel? Are there systemic things that impact our effectiveness. A pipeline review looks at the overall state of the business, not at specific deals.
Account review: In any account, we may have many things going on. Lot of deals, projects, extending our relationships into new parts of the account. An account review focuses on all aspects of the account. In some cases, it is similar to a pipeline review–we may want to look at the number and quality of deals we are pursuing. The account review also represents an a prospecting plan. What are we doing to expand our relationships in the account, how do we leverage these activities to identify more opportunities to pursue. An account review allows us to focus on the quality of our relationship—are we maximizing our value to the customer, are we important to the customer? It allows us to look at is the customer good for us, are we maximizing the profitability of the customer. It allows us to look at the strategic relationship we want to have with the customer.
Territory reviews: Territory reviews are similar to account reviews, but rather than focusing on a particular account, we look at the territory. Are we maximizing our penetration of the territory? Where are there new opportunities? What can we do to maximize our share of the territory.
Call reviews: Call reviews are very closely tied to deal reviews. We execute our deal strategy by making calls. In a call review, we want to debrief a particular call. In addition to the “to-dos” and next steps in the sales process, we want to take the time to assess our effectiveness in the call. Did we accomplish everything we had planned? Could we have accomplished more? Is there anything we would have changes? What did we learn and how do we apply it to future calls. The problem with call reviews is usually we focus on the “to-dos” and miss the opportunity to discuss our impact and effectiveness.
Each of the types of reviews is very important to managing our effectiveness, performance, and impact. We need to do each–generally we do deal and call reviews quite frequently, every week. Pipeline/funnel reviews–unless you have very short sales cycles, don’t need to be conducted as frequently. Territory and Account reviews–unless there’s a lot of change, usually need to be done once a quarter, sometimes even less.
To maximize the value of each review–keep focused on what you are trying to achieve in the review. The temptation is always to talk about deals, but unless you are doing opportunity reviews, you need to focus on what you are trying to achieve in the review process.