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Don’t Let Your Sales Reviews Look Like Post-Mortems

Sales reviews happen for a reason- to chalk out the success journey of the sales goal. Think of it as planning a fun road trip

Sales reviews happen for a reason- to chalk out the success journey of the sales goal. Think of it as planning a fun road trip with friends to an area with limited connectivity. You have a car, know where you want to be, and know the co-passengers. All you have do is figure out the path and allocate responsibilities accordingly. If you get it right, the review can leave your teams invigorated with a clear action plan to achieve the goal. However most reviews end up being just another tick the box meeting for updates and are lagging discussions. More like being a part of a train journey where only few people have a role and the rest are just passengers who can report where they have reached or talk about being late.

Having sat through over 100 sales reviews across 25+ enterprises, some of the trends that I have noticed are:

  • Narrative- 90% of the time is spent on iterating what happened last week/quarter
  • Afterthought- What went wrong and how could we miss the target
  • Blame Game- Poor territory, poor leads, poor sales support, and finally poor me
  • Anecdotal- Contextual vs driven by data
  • Last Man Push- Everyone commits to making it – SOMEHOW

Figuring this “somehow” is the objective of a review. Imagine how this would work in any other result focused entity, the military for example, where it is imperative to pre-empt and achieve success. There is no scope to discuss an event after it has happened. An inquest is important to understand why a deal was lost. One should learn from it, but it should not be the focus of a sales review.

For a sales review to be meaningful, it should be forward looking with emphasis on pipeline health, focus on the right deals, and the execution plan to achieve targets. Scott Edinger, a contributor at Forbes, highlights the importance of focusing on early stage pipeline rather than dwelling on the past in his article, “How Great Sales Leaders Coach”.

‘Trade half of the numbers for early stage pipeline review discussions. By shifting half of the time on early stage deals, sales leaders are able to determine where optimal value can be created in the sales cycle and direct resources toward that value. There is nothing wrong with asking questions about late stage deals and understanding the forecast, but when that is the only focus, you miss the greatest opportunity in improving sales performance.’

Most inspirational sales leaders have started leveraging technology to monitor and develop a clear picture of what has happened in the past cycle as well as to map various performance metrics to analyze how it impacts performance. They use the review only for 3 things:

  • Forecast for next few cycles on the back of what’s in the pipeline. They ask their team how they plan to approach the opportunity, and how they could help.
  • Risk Analysis and Mitigation- Know the ‘at-risk’ opportunities that they need to spend time and resources on.
  • Identifying gaps and Abridge- Understand the skill gap for each rep on the team through a scorecard and identify ways to train them this cycle on that specific skill.

In his article, “How to Conduct an Effective Pipeline Management Coaching Session”, sales management expert Jason Jordan talks about effective sales review discussions. He elaborates on how these discussions help managers have a greater impact on deals in early days and increase the likelihood of closing a successful deal.

Sales reviews should be effective planning and coaching sessions, rather than just being data scrubbing meetings.



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