I was recently asked the above question, and it’s a good one. As sales leaders, we all want to be in full control of our forecast, pipeline and close to our sales team.
However, as this question suggests there is a fine line between being really on it, and being a pain in the a**. No one loves being micro managed. So, how do you get the balance?
Working with successful clients over the years, I’ve found the best results have been achieved when everyone understands the difference between Forecast Meetings and Pipeline Meetings.
The Forecast meetings are for reviewing the soon to close opportunities that are due to close in the next 30 days.
The Pipeline Meetings are to review new opportunities entering the sales pipeline that need tracking and actions to move them forward to a closing position.
As a sales manager, your real value is in helping coach your team on these early stage opportunities.
Here’s a practical suggestion on when and how to do this.
Twice a month do a 90min coaching session 1-2-1 with the individual sales people. Review together some of their ‘Must Win’ sales opportunities focusing on early stage pipeline not just forecast projects. Work collaboratively to identify the gaps in any deals and agree the next steps to move them forward to win the business. This is where you can have the most influence and impact on your team’s future results. It will also give you greater confidence later on as you come to forecast as you will have had good visibility of the opportunity from an early stage.
Prior to the start of a new month hold a forecast meeting to review all opportunities due to close in the next 30 days. Be sure that any of the opportunities forecast have travelled through the pipeline successfully and reached the appropriate final sales stage / probability before including them in your forecast. Don’t be fooled by ‘red herrings’ that suddenly appear in the pipeline at a late stage and can spoil your forecast. Many managers spend too much time focusing to these soon to close opportunities, when in reality there is little they can do to affect the outcome at such a late stage in the sales process.
If you want commitment from your team make sure you get the dates for these review meetings and 1-2-1 sessions in the calendar well ahead of time and commit to them yourself and expect the same from your team. If you don’t commit to them your team will see them as of low priority and you will get messed around as everyone will start finding reasons to cancel on you. Trust me I’ve been there and felt the pain!
Ultimately, these meeting and 1-2-1 coaching sessions are where you can add the most value to your team. As they give you the opportunity to transfer knowledge and multiply your skills throughout the team, taking them to the next level in their sales careers.