Weekly Pipeline Calls

I’ve been asked by a few clients recently about the value (or lack thereof) of weekly pipeline calls.   I think that this depends entirely on the way in which the meeting is conducted, and the intended purpose of the meeting.

When I started my first company, I had no formal sales training, so my sales were haphazard, my tracking was minimal, and my team was tiny.  While we had ad-hoc meetings about different clients, there was no structured weekly meeting.  Sales certainly got done, and the entire team was often involved, but we didn’t have anything formal – and in many ways this was how we wanted to work.  It was a free form, make it happen approach.

As the team grew, and the team became more disperse, we instituted weekly pipeline calls to make sure that we all got on the phone at least once a week to discuss the challenges and the opportunities of the week prior, the week to come, and also to make sure we were all on target for quota.  The calls were very productive, and became a team-building exercise.  As each salesperson went through their deals, other salespeople would chime in and offer advice on how they handled a particular objection, or obstacle.  The team would also share new points that would resonate as well as success stories that others could use in their prospecting and closing.

This type of sales pipeline call is very good for the health of your team and over-all sales achievement, and is really the only type of call that is worth having.

In one of the sales jobs I had, there was a sales manager who was from the other side of the coin.  On my first pipeline call, I was asked to talk about the deals I was working on.  I chimed in and started talking about a deal that I was enthusistic about but was having some problems with the value proposition and started asking for advice from some other salespeople.  The sales manager immediately stopped the conversation and said, “I hired you because you are a supposedly an expert in sales… if you can’t figure this out on your own, then maybe I hired the wrong person.”  His idea of a sales pipeline call was a weekly bashing of every salesperson on their deals – not a constructive discussion on how to accellerate the funnel of deals.  I went on to become the top salesperson, and we did have a very cohesive team – but that was something we built on the side.  The team had discussions about deals outside of the sales pipeline call – and I’m sure lots of ideas were lost that the entire team could have benefitted from.  What made matters worse, was that from week to week, the sales manager could not even remember which deals were being worked by whom and what the last status was.

If this is the type of pipeline call that you intend to run, then I would say that you should skip it.  The weekly bashing of the salespeople and trying to embarass them into performing, is counter-productive and treating the team like this certainly has little to no value.

So, the bottom line is… if you intend to use the weekly call as a way to elevate and promote sales, then it has value.  If the call is simply going through deals in a circle to embarrass the salespeople falling behind, then I see lass of a value to it.