Interesting article below, but what as really changed?
Pipeline reviews are pipeline reviews, what's actually changed in the last 30 years?
Maybe as sales leaders, we use clever questioning and we know how to stop the con artists disrupting the meetings with their lists of hopes and dreams. But really?
With our clients we have changed the pipeline review totally and we do this with social processes and tools like sales navigator. Sales has changed and it's changed as the internet, social media and mobile has changed the way people buy. Part of how we have changed the pipeline review is through great social selling and some of this is using psychology of the buyer.
First, buyers are looking for experts, they are looking for trust. Some people call it salespeople "helping" but I think we are cynical of salespeople "helping" and you need to be subtler than that. Salespeople need to have a personal brand, so that buyers can see what they salesperson stands for. Not the what, but the why. Buyers are looking for authentic trust. For a salesperson to win nowadays, they need to have a strong personal brand, and you can review this outside of the account review.
Salespeople also need a strong network. Gartner says that 10 people are now a decision group within a business. This means that sales people have to be connected to at least 10 people within an account. Being as you probably don't know who the decision group is, you need to be connected to more than 10 people.
At a recent pipeline review, the target account was a Pizza making company, looking in Sales Navigator the salesperson was not connected to anybody in the account on LinkedIn. This, of course, places the account as a next quarter close at risk. The salesperson was committing it. There is no way this will happen if the salesperson isn't connected to anybody. Since I started selling, you need to meet all the decision makers. So this is NOT just about connecting to them, but building a relationship with them will get you closer to that meet. With so many people in an account you need to talk to, social will also help you scale.
I've written before about how I've used internal social as a way to get the forecast 95% accurate, so I won't cover it here.
Once we have forensically looked at the accounts, reduced the risks of the salesperson's network and is the sales people exhibiting the right behaviours, you can look at things to do to unblock the deals.
For example, you can look at content. Now there are different types of content. There is the content you get from Marketing, which is "throwing shit at the wall and hoping it will stick". This is isn't what you want. This is about writing a piece of content, focused on this industry, company or individual. Blogging is a modern salespersons tool and we use it all the time to focus on a single buyer and place that content under his or her nose. Note: This is NOT a sales pitch, this is a piece that will provide insight, educate and provide the drive for them to see your proposal as a priority. You won't do this by just annoying them by calling them and emailing them.
Or it maybe social activity, rather than calling and emailing people and pissing them off. I had a proposal stuck recently and I just started engaging more on the decision makers social channels. He then contacted me and asked me in to talk about the proposal.
Social has now become the prospecting method of choice for companies as it provides no place to hide, from demand generation, to prospecting, to accelerating deals through the pipeline, through to reducing risks in the forecasting process.
Social allows you as a sales leader to forensically break down the pipeline, even better, however good your questioning, there is no place to hide with social!
Sadly, many salespeople feel like they’re facing off to Dirty Harry every time they have a Pipeline Review. He’s staring down at them while they squirm and sweat.