7 Reasons Your Deal Review is a Complete Waste of Time (and How to Fix It)

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Formalize your deal review in 7 simple steps.

As David Brock notes in his book, Sales Manager Survival Guide, sales managers spend their lives in reviews. So it might come as a shock that it’s likely that the majority of the time you spend in reviews is wasted. The core reason is that most sales managers never learned why you do reviews and what you are supposed to accomplish in them in the first place. You are likely simply copying reviews that you’ve experienced in the past.

Let’s focus specifically on your deal review and look at the seven reasons it is likely a complete waste of your time, and how to fix it.

1. You Are Mixing Reviews

In his book, Brock calls it “comparing apples to oranges.” All too often, sales managers allow forecast and pipeline reviews to degenerate into an ad hoc deal review. The result is that neither you nor your sales team will acquire the relevant information they need for either.

Another common mistake sales managers make is to do the deal review as a one-on-one. When deal reviews are done as a team, everyone on the team benefits from learning from their peers’ deals. A sharing of tribal knowledge naturally occurs and reps have the opportunity to apply that knowledge to their own deals.

How To Fix It

The most simple way to fix this issue is to put a formal review process in place and follow it closely. Different reviews have different objectives, so they should be separated to ensure you and your team are efficiently managing the pipeline.

Get Your FREE Guides To Formalize Your Review Processes >>

2. Neither you nor your reps have prepared for the deal review

You are extremely busy. Hopping from meeting to meeting, phone call to phone call is exhausting. How are you ever supposed to have time to actually prepare for each meeting when you barely have time to grab another cup of coffee to keep you going.

But a little bit of preparation goes a long way in giving you back your time. There is a return on time invested when you learn how to manage an efficient deal review, rather than winging it.

You should also not tolerate a lack of preparation from your reps. Both you and your reps need to do a little bit of pre-work in advance of a deal review to ensure the meeting runs as efficiently as possible.

How To Fix It

First, place ownership of the deal review into the hands of your sellers. It takes a bit of sales team development to accomplish this, but as reps get used to the new dynamic, you will find that they are arriving to deal reviews much better prepared.

Schedule just 5 – 10 minutes prior to each deal review on your calendar for prep time, and instruct your reps to do the same. Treat this time as sacred as any other meeting you attend and use it to review the details of the deal. This means understanding the background, pain points, solutions, and risks of the deal based on the information already available.

Since you have created a list of set questions (from #1 above), your sales rep should be using this time to prepare their answers to these questions.

3. Your deal review is one-sided

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

Sam, an average-performing rep on your team, calls your office line during the scheduled time for his weekly deal review with you. He is working on a fairly important deal that has the potential to bring in $82,000 upon closing, and more in renewals and upsell potential. The problem they are looking to solve has clear synergies with your solution and, up until about two weeks ago, they were moving through the pipeline smoothly.

Sam starts the conversation by talking about the company, where they are located, when they came in, what their issues are, what solutions have been presented to them, what conversations have happened, etc, etc. He continues on and on as you listen to background and historical information that you’ve heard before. You are also looking at the majority of this information as you scan the account record in Salesforce while Sam continues to talk.

“…and now they’ve basically gone quiet. I haven’t heard from them for almost two weeks.” Sam ends his spiel. You happen to glance at the clock on your screen and you’re 15 minutes into a 30-minute meeting and you’ve barely said two words.

One-sided reviews can go either way—either you are doing all the talking or your rep is. As in this scenario, sellers can have a tendency to tell stories and simply do a “data dump”, rather than provide facts and data that are relevant and concise.

On the other hand, when the manager is the one doing all the talking, they are not providing their reps with career development coaching that will help both the rep and the manager in the long term. Managers tend to fall into the habit of telling and instructing, rather than asking and listening.

Tweet this: When your deal review is one-sided, neither side gets the full story or the opportunity to understand. You think you know all the right answers, even though it is your rep who is closest to the deal. And your rep leaves the meeting without a deeper understanding of how to win a deal on their own, without needing to involve management as much.

How To Fix It

Your deal review should be a conversation, where both parties are contributing. To become a good sales manager, work on developing your coaching methodology within your routine interactions with your team, such as during a deal review.

Ask coaching questions that not only improve your understanding of the deal but will also get your rep thinking about the deal themselves and understand the “why” behind your recommendations and outcomes. Why, what, and how questions are typically how good coaching questions begin.

4. No action items come out of the deal review

I have observed many deal reviews that have simply ended without an action item. Time’s up (or overdue) and the two parties simply part, neither of them much better off than they were 30 or 40 minutes ago.

One of the important objectives of a deal review is to identify specific action items that will help your rep win the deal. If you do not establish clear action items with your reps to accomplish this before your next meeting, you have completely wasted time.

How To Fix It

Tweet this: A sales manager who is also a great coach will get buy-in on action items from their reps. This means asking specific “how” questions that will help your reps determine what they need to do to ensure the win themselves.

Help your rep build a list of action items that they will commit to completing and the timelines associated with each. Document the action items so that you can track and reconcile that they were acted on later.

5. Action items are not reconciled from week to week

Those managers who do set action items during the deal review often do not reconcile them from week to week. There is little point in setting action items if you are not going to follow up on them to make sure they were completed and find out what the result was.

This behavior leads to a lack of accountability and responsibility from your reps.

How To Fix It

Incorporate about 5 minutes for action item reconciliation in your weekly deal review agenda. During this part of the deal review, refer to the action items list you created with your rep the week before and quickly go through each, asking what the result of the action was.

6. You are too focused on late-stage deals

A big part of your job is to be hyper-focused on the short-term results of your sales team. The problem is that the relentless pursuit of short-term objectives means that you tend to be so focused on the late-stage opportunities in your team’s pipeline that you all but ignore the top of the sales funnel.

Deal reviews should include qualified opportunities that are in the earlier stages of your sales process as well. After all, these are the deals that are going to pay dividends during your next week, month, or quarter.

How To Fix It

The fix here is pretty simple: do deal reviews on early stage deals! Creating a strategy for winning a deal early on and executing it will only help reach your goals.

7. You are trying to make your deal review “one size fits all”

Not all deal reviews should be the same. Trying to make them one size fits all will simply make them irrelevant and waste valuable time.

If you manage a team that has different roles or focuses on different geographic areas, products, industry targets, etc. your deal review has to be customized to those variables. Often, the difference isn’t dramatic, but you can’t expect deals to all play out the same way.

How To Fix It

Think about the different segments and/or roles of the people on your team—maybe make a list to map them out. Next, think about the goals and objectives that each of these segments on your team has, and the differences in the deals that they work on.

Come up with a clear structure for each of the different areas on your team that you manage. This may include a specific agenda, objective, list of questions, and coaching questions for each. Planning these out will help you run a deal review with each more effectively and help improve your deal reviews on an ongoing basis.

The deal review is a critical activity for sales managers, so it’s astonishing how much of a waste of time so many of them really are. While we looked specifically at deal reviews in this post, the truth is that these mistakes and fixes can be applied to all of the reviews scheduled on your calendar.

Tweet this: Take the time to improve your reviews, formalize your management processes, and develop your sales team so that you can run a more effective, more efficient sales organization.

Deal-Review-Sales-Manager-Development-eBook

CommercialTribe Case Study | Corporate Visions Launches a Successful Sales Kickoff & Aligns A Growing Sales Team

How does a quickly growing, global company launch a successful sales kickoff?

After an aggressive round of acquisitions, Corporate Visions, Inc. realized they had a growing, worldwide sales team that needed to learn about new products and align around a single message. They needed a successful sales kickoff to launch their own corporate vision in the market.

The Challenge

According to Corporate Visions research, sales and marketing teams agree that a rep’s ability to deliver the best possible message to prospects is the key factor in closing a deal (85% agree). Yet, practice, roleplay, and coaching of these messages are nearly nonexistent, with only 41% of companies asking their team to demonstrate proficiency before going to market. The missed opportunity impacts every aspect of selling – reps influence the market less often, close less business, and fail to break the status quo.

Creating discipline and a road to a practice-based culture allows teams to adopt the right skills, messages, and behaviors necessary to articulate value to prospects.

After Corporate Visions acquired a series of companies, including WhiteboardSelling, Executive Conversations, and BayGroup International, they needed to combine multiple sales teams into one group selling the entire portfolio. This presented a challenge: Corporate Visions needed a way to ensure that reps mastered all of the company’s messaging before selling.

The Solution

CommercialTribe helped Corporate Visions design a sales enablement approach for boosting messaging proficiency across the worldwide sales team. To help adopt the new messaging and drive practice, CommercialTribe created a Product & Service Go-to-Market plan that incorporated the suite of new solutions. The plan combined several steps to build a practice-based activity curriculum, which included:

  • Leaders recorded best practice delivery of the company’s seven point-of-view whiteboard stories for each offering
  • Reps viewed and practiced as many times as it took to get it right, and then submitted their final take for manager feedback and certification
  • Leaders saw a report on their organization’s performance and how well reps adopted the right message
  • Reps were required to stand and deliver each of the seven whiteboards during a two-day workshop during the company’s sales kickoff

The Results

  • Over 90% of the selling organization participated and certified on the seven strategic whiteboard stories within three months
  • Each whiteboard scenario was practiced and recorded 2.5 times on average before final submission
  • Unanimous reps feedback that the sales kickoff was the most impactful, useful, and fulfilling in their experience, including previous companies

CommercialTribe is assisting Corporate Visions in driving the quality and consistency of their messaging, joining the progressive 9% of companies using video to practice. With reps able to articulate value and break the status quo, Corporate Visions is documenting improvements in cross-product pipeline and cross-sell conversions.

Learn More About CommercialTribe Solutions »

About Corporate Visions

Corporate Visions, Inc. helps global business-to-business companies create more sales opportunities, overcome the status quo, and win more deals by improving the conversations sales representatives have with customers.
Learn About Corporate Visions

Key Takeaways

  • CommercialTribe designed a Product & Service Go-to-Market solution
  • Over 90% of the team practiced
  • Sales kickoff was the most impactful, useful, and fulfilling in reps’ experience

CommercialTribe’s video-based practice helps our team and clients develop quality and consistency in their messaging that allows reps to make a difference in the market. Complex skills and messages that previously weren’t being reviewed are now practiced more than 3 times each until they are mastered. When reps are able to practice and get feedback, they can take the right stories to a prospect and spark an entirely new insight, changing a sales presentation into an engaging answer to ‘why change.’”

– Tim Riesterer
CSO/CMO
Corporate Visions, Inc.

How to Put Defined Sales Processes in Place and Even Have Your Salespeople Love You For It

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It’s a fact: well-defined sales processes lead to more productive sales performance. In a study conducted by CSO Insights, this fact was validated—companies with defined sales processes won 53% of their forecasted deals vs. 43% with ad hoc processes. This essentially means that a defined sales process yields 23% more output from sales. The numbers for % reps making quota, and % companies making plan also tell a similar story (see graph below).

CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Report

2011 Sales Performance Optimization Report, CSO Insights, www.csoinsights.com

From nearly every vantage point, the research confirms that better sales processes equal better sales performance. Reason to say yes to formalizing your sales processes? We think so!

Cracking the Sales Management Code

The information above was taken directly from Cracking the Sales Management Code, by Jason Jordan. If you haven’t read it, I suggest that you pick it up—it’s a favorite in our office. The basic takeaway is that you can’t manage organizational outcomes—quota attainment, revenue—which is traditionally where a lot of sales organizations focus.

Instead, your focus— especially if you’re a sales manager—should be on proactively managing reps’ activities by establishing deliberate, standardized meetings/activities with formal agendas, inputs, and outputs. Managed well, improvements in these activities will impact measurable objectives and ultimately improve outcomes.

Putting an actionable plan in place

I want to highlight how we were able to bring a formal, defined process to a typical sales meeting: The Forecast Review. Often, the urgency of the forecast beats the importance of rep development.  But it’s a false dilemma.  There are ways to improve both at the same time.

We’ve spent the last six months listening to hundreds of manager-seller interactions— forecasts, 1-on-1s, opportunity reviews, account management meetings, and pre-call planning sessions.  The bad news is that the general quality of these meetings are substandard.  The good news is that with some simple modifications they can be improved dramatically — leading to accurate forecasts, improved quota attainment, empowered salespeople, and ultimately improved sales performance.

If your forecast review meeting is not on a formal cadence with a formal approach and a formal agenda then you’re a hack…well, not really.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone and it’s easy to fix. Here are six adjustments that will rock your forecast review meetings:

  1. Standardize the agenda, purpose and approach
  2. Model good and bad meetings
  3. Ask versus tell
  4. Make requests, promises and agreements
  5. Transfer meeting ownership to the salesperson
  6. Inspect what you expect

Download this guide for more detail on how to implement this proven structure and customize for your environment.  And if you’d like to continue this effort to improve other processes, you can download the entire set of Sales Manager Guides including:

  • Retain and Grow Key Accounts
  • Build and Execute a Territory Action Plan
  • Qualify and Execute Multi-Stage Sales Cycles
  • Produce an Accurate and Reliable Forecast

I hope you find these guides helpful in putting more formalized sales activities in your organization. We’re sure that you will see improvements in your team’s sales performance as a result of implementing a formal approach, cadence, and agenda. And since your reps will ultimately see an improvement in their performance, I’m pretty sure they’ll love you for it.

Want To Know What Makes A Good Sales Manager? Ask Google

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Google observed and analyzed 10,000 manager interactions and found out what makes a good sales manager.

Google is the gold standard when it comes to using data-driven insights to make decisions. Constantly on the lookout for ways to optimize their business based on data, Google executives wanted to find out if there was a way that they could effectively engineer the perfect manager.

Google, like many companies, traditionally hired and promoted based on technical talent. But what did their research show? Of the top eight characteristics that make a good manager, technical expertise comes in last. What mattered more?

    1. Be a good coach
    2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage
    3. Express interest in employee’s success and well-being
    4. Be productive and results-oriented
    5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team
    6. Help your employees with career development
    7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
    8. Have key technical skills, so you can help advise the team

Great Coaching Skills Make a Good Sales Manager

What really struck me about this is that the number one, most important skill that makes a good sales manager is to be a good coach. This is precisely the challenge that we’ve been solving for our clients here at CommericalTribe. We all know from experience that it’s not enough to just send your salespeople to training and then throw them at a list of prospects and hope for the best. Sales teams benefit most when someone takes the time to observe what they do, assess their performance, and then provide constructive feedback on what they did well and where there are opportunities for improvement.

In short, sales teams benefit most from having a great coach. Tweet: Sales teams benefit most from having a great coach. https://ctt.ec/Nh7ZU+ #SalesManagerDevelopment #SalesGoals

Our research shows that very few sales managers are very good at this. Why? Many companies don’t invest more than cursory training for our sales managers to develop their management and coaching skills. Without this investment in the development of frontline sales managers, your sales team is far less likely to hit their goals.

How often do you discuss how to be an effective sales coach with your managers? And how well do they understand how being a good coach fits into their daily interactions?

What Does it Take to Be A Good Sales Coach?What makes a good sales manager? Nature vs. Nurture | CommercialTribe Sales Training & Enablement Solution

Being a good coach is all about getting people to perform at their best.

John Wooden, one of the most respected coaches in sports history who led the UCLA basketball team to win ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, said: “In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices.”

Great coaches don’t focus on the personal glory of the game and the fame of the win. They measure their own success by how much their team is able to achieve. This mindset doesn’t always come naturally to highly successful sales reps that have been promoted into management.

Sales leaders who want sales managers who are great coaches can start by specifically looking for characteristics that create good coaches in the recruiting process. When IBM goes into colleges to recruit, they look at the students with undergraduate degrees in areas such as psychology, counseling, and teaching. They find the ones that had even just a small amount of business acumen and point them toward career tracks in sales management.

IBM has been doing this for a long time, because they understood early on that good sales managers are good coaches. And good coaches guide people. Students who were interested in these types of degrees, IBM discovered, were usually inherently interested in guiding people and already exhibited the coaching characteristics that make a good sales manager.

Making A Good Sales Manager: Is It Nature Or Nurture?

What makes a good sales manager? Sales Team Success | CommercialTribe Sales Training & Enablement SolutionTalent is something that people are born with, skill is something that is earned. Tweet: Talent is something that people are born with, skill is earned. https://ctt.ec/9adMR+ #SalesSkills #SalesManagerDevelopment

Some people are born with the characteristics that can make a great coach. But many, many others need to develop it.

Jack Welch, the celebrated growth CEO of GE, was not always the great leader we think of today. Early on in his career at GE, he was described in a memo from the head of HR as “arrogant, couldn’t take criticism, and depended too much on his talent instead of hard work and his knowledgeable staff” (Mindset, pg. 127). To his credit, Welch had the good sense to recognize this as a growth opportunity and worked tirelessly throughout his career to become a better coach and the leader we know and recognize today.

Developing great coaching skills requires commitment, work, and practice. If you want to develop your sales managers into coaches, you must first take the time to coach them and invest in tools to help them scale their coaching across their entire team.

You don’t need to have a team of statisticians on staff to understand what makes a good sales manager for your organization. You and your management team do; however, need to be able to observe and assess sales manager and seller interactions, to provide coaching. This observe, assess, and coach methodology is how sales teams continually improve in becoming better managers and closing more deals.

Download the Free Sales Manager Guide and Learn What Makes a Good Sales Manager | CommercialTribe Sales Training & Enablement Solution

5 Steps to an Actionable Sales Manager Coaching Methodology

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Our C.O.A.C.H. Sales Manager Coaching Methodology integrates actionable sales coaching into your day.

Recent research has proven that the number one skill that separates average managers from highly effective ones is coaching. While the leadership and management world at large has known this for quite some time, sales management specifically has largely been left out of this important development trend.

Because, as a sales manager, you operate in a fundamentally different environment from your management peers, you continue to lack serious coaching and development training in the context required to be successful. What you need is an actionable sales manager coaching methodology that works within the context of your daily life.

Our C.O.A.C.H. method is a sales coaching methodology for managers with a simple, yet actionable structure that provides flexibility for the realities of the fluctuating sales environment. It employs five simple practices that sales managers can easily integrate into their daily workflow: Commit, Observe, Assess, Communicate, and Habituate.

1. Commit to Coaching Opportunities

Assess & Coach Sales Team - 5 Step Sales Coaching Methodology | CommercialTribe Sales Manager SolutionThe job of the sales manager is inherently one of the most difficult jobs in the organization. Amid the chaos of your daily life, you’re now being asked to shift your thinking—shift the dynamics of the interactions you have with your salespeople—in a fundamental way by incorporating sales coaching. This is not something that comes naturally for many people, but it is a critical skill that can be developed with practice and commitment.

Committing to developing your own coaching skills includes actively seeking out coaching opportunities in every interaction you have with your team. You already have frequently scheduled meetings for pipeline and opportunity overviews, forecast reviews, activity management, etc. Within all of these interactions, coaching opportunities present themselves.

2. Observe Seller Behavior & Interactions

You can’t coach what you don’t observe. By observing seller behavior in their daily interactions with leads and clients, you are able to pick up on those cues that tell you where actionable coaching opportunities lie.

Sales managers often observe the interactions their reps have with clients and prospects during the sales onboarding phase. It’s less common to consistently observe more experienced seller interactions. This leaves a gap in your ability to continue to grow your sellers’ professional careers.

Observation isn’t just about watching for mistakes. It’s more about understanding the interactions that are happening every day between individuals on your team and your market. It allows you to collect insights into what is working well, what isn’t working well, as well as market trends that might affect your organization. This is information you can use to improve your team as a whole in addition to assessing and coaching individual sellers.

3. Assess Seller Performance

Assess Sales Team - 5 Step Sales Coaching Methodology | CommercialTribe Sales Manager SolutionMake an assessment of the seller’s performance you’ve observed. Did they start with an agenda? Did they keep control of the conversation? Did they build rapport? Did they establish next steps? These are the very basics of every effective sales call that you should be looking for in seller interactions. There may be additional assessment criteria for your sales process as well.

Take a moment to determine what the most critical elements of a sales call at each step of your sales process is and map them out in a spreadsheet. Then, assess each seller interaction on a scale from Not Present (red) to Excellent (green). We call this an assessment map, which we work with our clients to create to standardize manager and seller assessments and provide a clear visual path to which elements need the most improvement and which are “gold standard”.

Your assessment maps will help you determine specifically what areas individual sellers need coaching and development work in so you can focus your time with that person on exactly what they need to be successful.

4. Communicate Through Asking Questions & Active Listening

Using your assessments, you are able to identify exactly who needs what training, empowering you to activate as an effective sales coach.

In the communication practice of an effective sales manager coaching methodology, the seller does most of the talking. Your role is to ask deliberate questions and actively listen to the responses. If you are talking more than your sales rep, you’re not doing it right.

As part of CommercialTribe’s sales team development solution, we observe and assess thousands of manager-rep and rep-customer interactions for our clients. This service provides sales leaders and managers with unbiased reports that identify skills gaps and highlight “gold standard” performance. I was recently assessing a sales manager and seller interaction that illustrates our C.O.A.C.H. sale manager coaching methodology quite well. The sales rep was relatively new to the company and was working with a mentor who had taken him under her wing. The manager had observed a meeting that the sales rep and his mentor had with an opportunity recently.

Like many manager-seller interactions I’ve observed, the meeting began with inspection: what activities had the seller completed since they last met, what was his pipeline looking like, etc. Then, the manager shifted into a mentorship role, providing the seller with specific advice for some objections and issues he was facing.

Then, the manager did something that I rarely see during the first assessment. He asked the sales rep about the meeting he’d observed. While the meeting went well and they were able to close the deal, the manager noticed that the rep had let his mentor do all of the talking. He asked, “Why did you let Karen do all the talking with your contact?”

The rep replied, “Well, Karen knows the product better than I do. I didn’t want to step on her toes or say the wrong thing.”

This moment would have been lost (and often is) on someone who had not committed himself to seeking out coaching opportunities. But it was a great catch. The sales manager uncovered a development gap that otherwise could have gone unnoticed to create a great disservice for the sales rep in the long run.

Communication also includes establishing engagement through agreement. It’s not enough to simply tell a sales rep what their goal is. You must establish an agreement for next steps before ending the meeting.

The sales manager in our story could have said, “I want you to take the next sales call without Karen present.” and moved on. Instead, he asked, “What can you do to make sure you’re comfortable with the information to take the lead on your next sales call?”

The seller responded, “I can practice the pitch and do a roleplay with Terry to practice objection handling.”

“That sounds like a great plan. How many times will you practice the pitch before scheduling the roleplay?”

“At least three times.”

“Good. And when will you have this completed by?”

“By the end of the week.”

“That sounds great. Is there anything you need from me to help you?”

5 Steps to an Actionable Sales Manager Coaching Methodology | CommercialTribe Sales Manager SolutionSales coaching interactions take patience and practice to navigate successfully. However, the end result of consistently conducting meetings with your sales team in this way will produce far greater long-term results than taking the “easy” way by telling. The next time the seller in our story feels uncomfortable with messaging, will he wait until his manager asks him about it? Or will he take the steps he knows are necessary to make him successful?

5. Make Coaching a Habit

This last step in our C.O.A.C.H. methodology is critical for two reasons. First, developing a coaching habit will help you stay focused on becoming a great coach even during times of high production and stress. Second, it helps coaching become more effective as both you and your reps will grow more comfortable with the methodology and expectations, and will interact more thoughtfully.

Two keys to creating a coaching habit are to keep a consistent schedule of meetings that follow a fixed agenda and set expectations with your reps up-front.

You know you need to develop your coaching skills to grow in your own career as a sales manager, as well as to improve the performance of your team. The problem is that you are, understandably, overwhelmed and under-developed. While this has historically been caused by the chaos traditional in the sales environment, the reality is that you have to take charge of your own growth mindset to succeed. Use this simple sales manager coaching methodology to develop your sales coaching habit and create long-term, sustained revenue growth.

Learn How To Put the 5 Step Sales Coaching Methodology To Work | CommercialTribe Sales Manager Solution