I thought it worthwhile to address the issue, primarily focusing on sales managers, helping them to better understand how to use the sales process more effectively in conducting reviews and in coaching their people. A coaching objective oriented improving the sales person’s abilities to develop and execute winning strategies.
Too often, managers choose the wrong deals to review, focusing on deals that are about to close. Do the next step action plans make sense with where we are in the process, our positioning, and the competition? By now, you are probably wondering, what if the sales person hasn’t updated the CRM or reporting systems.
I dive into 2-3 key critical activities that have been completed, asking the sales person to give me a deeper understanding and better context. If they give a well thought out response, I’ll inspect a couple of other completed items in a similar manner. If the sales person is managing the deal effectively, we focus the discussion on “What’s next?” This is where managers can add real value in coaching the sales person and improving the deal strategy. At the conclusion of the review, the sales person should have identified all the next steps. Following the review, it’s important for managers to follow up on key activities, making sure they are executed, check pointing to see if they had the desired impact or if we need to adjust the strategy going forward. It’s amazing how much we can accomplish in a short period of time if we have a structure to the way we conduct deal reviews. The key to coaching is to have the proper mentality and attitude that you want and are willing to invest in others. If you invest in other people they will ultimately make the decision to invest in themselves.
When I talk about the “selling process,” I’m focusing on the set of activities and outcomes required to move a qualified prospect through their buying process to a decision. As a manager, I want to understanding the status, strategy, and what we are doing about a specific deal, so that I can make sure the sales team is executing the strategy that will most likely produce a win. We leverage coaching on a specific deal, with the objective they apply the lessons to all other deals. Using a specific opportunity to give me a sense about how well they are managing the other opportunities they are working on.


This is probably the type of opportunity to do a review on–if it’s about ready to close, there’s not much that can be done to adjust the strategy and improve the ability to win. Consequently, much of the time is spent reviewing past history rather than focusing on the things we should do to strengthen our strategy and compress the sales cycle. For example, if we are in the discovery phase of a complex deal, and it is forecast to close within 2 weeks, I wonder,” How are we going to complete all that needs to be done to move it from discovery to closure in 2 weeks? We identify activities in the sales process because we know them to be critical to our success, why are we skipping these activities? For example, if the sales person has checked the activity, “We understand who is involved in the decision-making process and how the decision will be made,” I will turn this activity into a question, “Who’s involved in the decision and how will they make a decision?” (Duuuhhh—use the sales process as you crib sheet for the deal review). This discussion gives me a view of how completely they’ve executed the process to date, how well they understand and are managing the deal, and how effectively they are executing.
We probably have to reset the whole deal strategy with the sales person, hopefully, being able to recover and move forward successfully with the customer.
The primary objective of a coach is to instill confidence and inspire employees to perform above and beyond what they even thought was possible.
Most employees do not come to work seeking ways to get better, rather they typically come to do a job and nothing more. One of the things I’ve discovered as a result of my diatribes, is many sales managers really don’t know how to reinforce the sales process in their coaching and development of their sales teams. The selling process is the set of activities we execute, aligned with the customer buying process.
Pragmatically, I can’t review every deal they are working on (nor to they want me micromanaging them). Our greatest leverage on deal reviews is opportunities that have just been qualified and are in the discovery or early proposing stages. If the sales person cannot describe it well, if they start waving their arms around too much or fumbling, red flags start going up in my mind. The sales person should update the CRM system with these next steps, to make sure they are accomplished. It's vital leadership today truly looks at its employees as its most valuable asset versus merely saying it.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions on this topic from sales managers, and I suspect there are a lot more that are embarrassed to ask about this.


Stated differently, the selling process is all about the deal or the opportunity and how to manage working with the customer most effectively.
If they are managing the process well in the few deals I inspect, then I can have reasonable confidence they are managing the other deals well. Over time, with each sales person, the manager should conduct review on deals in all stages of the pipeline. I worry, do they have an accurate assessment of where they are in the sales process, are they managing it as effectively as possible? The discussion might include a SWOT analysis with the sales person, identifying opportunities, threats and the actions required to address them. If we do not challenge our employees to perform better we in turn have made a decision to arbitrarily stay stagnant! Often, I when I get involved in review meetings, I find myself in a role of coaching both the sales person and in showing executives how they should be conducting the reviews and coaching their people.
We can challenge the sales person on our value creation, getting them to make sure the value they are creating is relevant and differentiated.
Tim holds a bachelora€™s degree in Adult Education and Training from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. I look at what’s changes since the last time I reviewed the deal to get a general sense of progress has been made. When we get into “tell mode,” we actually transfer ownership of the strategy from the sales person to ourselves.
If we have a good process in place and the deal has been updated, it only takes me a couple of minutes to get a good sense of things and to start to prepare the questions I want to ask. Done right, the review becomes a collaborative problem solving session–with an outcome probably better than either person could have created alone.



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