A sales meeting is led by the sales manager and brings together the team responsible for delivering your business’ sales objectives to review progress and priorities. Getting the format, frequency and content of these meetings right can make the difference between achieving your sales revenue target or failing to deliver and putting your business at risk.
If you came here to learn about sales pitch meetings with customers, head here instead.
The 2 Essential Sales Meetings Every Business Needs
By and large, every B2B business should regularly have the following sales meetings with their employees:
- Weekly Sales Forecast Meetings – this sales meeting is focused on deals that are likely to close over the next week and include only salespeople
- Biweekly Sales Pipeline Meetings – this sales meeting is focused on lead generation and the overall health of your sales pipeline and include sales and marketing people
Each sales meeting has a very different focus with different participants, so it’s important to separate the 2 kinds of meetings. In this article, we’ll cover each in detail, including agendas, talking points and sales meeting rules. We’ll also discuss how to use a CRM like Pipedrive to easily generate all the reports you need and monitor sales progress.
Weekly Sales Meeting: Forecast Sales
The main purpose of the weekly sales forecast meeting is to confirm which deals are going to convert into new customers over the week ahead. In some businesses it also includes what they committed to achieve the previous week, what they actually managed to achieve and why.
It is the responsibility of the sales manager to chair this sales meeting, ensure it stays focused and finishes on time. Thirty minutes is usually long enough for a sales meeting with 6 or fewer attendees.
The focus of this sales meeting should be strictly on deals about to convert before the next weekly sales forecast meeting. As a result, the only attendees should be the sales manager (who may also be the business owner) and sales reps.
In order to keep the agenda focused, each sales rep should arrive at the sales meeting prepared to discuss which deals will close over the week ahead. Communicating this to the sales manager and the rest of the team makes their priorities for the week ahead crystal clear, and increases their sense of commitment and accountability to delivering on the plan.
Sales Forecast Meeting Agenda
This sales meeting agenda will be:
- Name of first sales rep
- Deal stage progress highlights for the week
- Deals successfully closed for the week
- Forecast deals to close successfully for the week ahead
- Name of second sales rep
Ideally the sales meeting should not last more than 30 minutes. If there are 6 sales reps in the sales meeting and the meeting is 30 minutes long, this allows the sales manager 5 minutes to focus on each sales rep.
Each rep communicates back to the team what they committed to achieve last week and what actually achieved and why. This should not only cover closed deals, but activity that moves deals from one stage to the next in the pipeline. For instance, a sales rep may commit to complete 100 cold calls and move 10 cold leads to the qualified stage.
It’s important that this sales meeting is conducted as a team. Each sales rep benefits from the transparency of learning from their colleagues. They also see how high-performance is celebrated and rewarded, which helps to generate a positive and competitive team spirit.
If a sales rep has under-delivered, this is not typically dealt with in the sales meeting. For one, it’s usually enough for the sales rep to communicate that they have under-achieved to the rest of the team and why. But furthermore, you want to stay on agenda during the sales meeting, and it’s often more effective for the sales manager to follow up with the sales rep one-to-one at another time the same week.
Sales Forecast Meeting Format
Ideally sales forecast meetings are conducted face-to-face. Failing that, they can occur over video conference, or worst case, via conference call. For many businesses face-to-face is not possible due to the geographic spread of the team. However, all other aspects of sales meeting discipline are important to uphold, as this meeting is essential to business success.
For instance, the only reason for not attending a sales meeting would be because the sales rep is on vacation or signed-off sick. Non-attendance due to a customer pitch meeting is not an acceptable excuse. If the customer wants to buy, they will accept meeting your sales rep at another time. It’s also essential to set the expectation that everyone arrives on time and is prepped and ready for the sales meeting.
Sales Forecast Meeting Frequency
Schedule this sales meeting at the same time each week. I would recommend either Friday afternoon to complete the week and look to the week ahead, or Monday morning to review the last week and kick off with clear priorities and commitments. I’ve personally found Monday morning to be most effective when everyone is fresh.
If your buying cycle is very long, you may meet less frequently. For example high-end software costing $10k or more/month often has a buying cycle of 6-12 months, in which case a biweekly or even a monthly sales meeting may be more appropriate.
Key Sales Forecast Metrics
There are only three sales metrics relevant to this sales meeting. I recommend sticking to these as your business and each sales rep will benefit from the clarity. The three metrics are:
Stage Activity Metrics
These metrics report on the activity that supports moving leads from one stage to the next in the pipeline. For instance, the activity that supports moving cold leads to sales qualified leads may be cold calls and cold emails. In which case your sales rep should report on how many cold calls and cold emails they committed to complete and how many they will commit to complete over the week ahead.
Stage Conversion Metrics
These metrics allow you to understand the conversion rate of leads from each stage of your pipeline to the next. For instance, cold lead to sales qualified lead conversion rate. How many cold leads did your sales rep commit to convert and how many did they actually convert and what will they achieve over the week ahead. Organising the agenda in this way allows the sales manager to see if the level of activity is impacting results.
This simple metric confirms the deals that the sales rep predicted would close over the week ahead and whether they were able to accurately forecast their own performance.
Useful Tools for Sales Forecast Meetings
I recommend using Pipedrive because the stage activity, stage conversion and deals closed/won metrics are automatically generated. This gives you and your team a real-time picture of results achieved and forecast sales.
Salespeople love Pipedrive because is easy to use and looks and works just like they expect a sales CRM to perform. It also provides each sales rep with a view of their own personal sales pipeline and performance metrics. The sales manager gets to see this view for each sales rep and can compare the performance of one sales rep vs. another. The sales manager also has an aggregate view of all sales activity. As a result, Pipedrive works great as a visual agenda for sales forecast meetings.
Biweekly Sales Meeting: Pipeline Health
Whereas your Forecast meeting is focused on the end of the pipeline, the main purpose of the pipeline meeting is to ensure that their are sufficient new sales leads being generated to fuel the sales pipeline.
It’s the responsibility of the sales manager to chair this sales meeting. The other attendees are sales reps, account managers and marketing executives. If you are running a small business, then you may not have in-house marketing execs, though you may have external consultants or an agency helping you to generate new sales leads. If this is the case, I recommend asking them to attend this sales meeting, which will help to ensure they are seamlessly connected to your sales process and more accountable for the work they perform.
The focus of this sales meeting is generating new leads to feed the first stage of your sales pipeline. It’s important to focus as much on the quality as you do on the quantity. This is because you need less high quality than lower quality sales leads to achieve your sales targets. This is because high quality leads convert more frequently and waste less of your sales reps valuable time.
Sales Pipeline Meeting Agenda
The agenda for this sales meeting should be:
Number of sales leads added to the pipeline by the marketing team vs. target for the past 2 weeks
Your marketing manager or consultants are likely to be running a program of lead generation activity including content marketing campaigns, online advertising and events to name just three. The item on the agenda allows marketing to report on the leads generated vs. target for each of their lead generation activities.
Sales reps then provide feedback on the quality of sales leads received and the conversion rate that they are achieving as they progress through the pipeline.
Number of leads added to the pipeline by the sales team vs. target for the past fortnight
Your sales reps and account managers will also be tasked with generating fresh sales opportunities from a range of sources and activities, including customer referrals, referral partners and cold calling purchased business contacts, to name just three. This agenda item allows them to report on the performance of these lead generation activities.
Sales reps then provide feedback on the quality of sales leads and the conversion rate that they are achieving as they progress through the pipeline. Sometimes they will be critiquing their own activity, the important this is the learn from each other and improve lead quality and conversion over time.
Overall sales pipeline health
The overall health of the pipeline can be measured with three metrics that track opportunity size, opportunity age and win-loss rates at each stage of the sales pipeline. I discuss the metrics that fuel this agenda item further below.
New campaigns and activities proposed
This agenda item allows marketing, account managers and sales reps to propose new lead generation activity or campaigns and share their ideas on how to improve existing activity.
As you can see from the agenda, the only focus is on the lead generation and the overall health of the sales pipeline.
Sales Pipeline Meeting Format & Frequency
Like with the weekly sales forecast meeting, this sales meeting should also be compulsory to attend. However, I would recommend it is scheduled every 2 weeks for 60 minutes. The reason for this is that the work tends to be longer term to take effect, which means there is less benefit from meeting every week because not much will have changed. The longer meeting time is to account for the fact that more people will be attending and the agenda requires more open discussion. If your sales cycle is long and there is not much change over a fortnight, a monthly sales pipeline meeting may work just as well.
Key Sales Pipeline Health Metrics
There are only three sales Pipeline Heath Metrics that a sales manager needs to measure to be able to exert good control over sales pipeline health with the support of their sales reps, account execs and marketing team. The three metrics are:
Opportunity Size vs. Average Deal Size Won
Every business has a sweet-spot in terms of the size of deals that they tend to convert. Deals sitting in the sales pipeline at a much lower value than this need to be challenged by the sales manager to ascertain why the price is lower than average compared with deal size won. Without this challenge, the products and services will be under-sold reducing your potential sales margin and profits.
Even worse, sales opportunities often track through the sales pipeline at inflated deal values. The sales manager also needs to challenge these as they are unlikely to result in a closed / won deal or all won deals would be completed at higher prices.
Tracking and focusing on these anomalies at the earliest opportunity helps to ensure that sales time is focused on viable deals at the right prices.
Opportunity Age vs. Average Win Cycle
In simple terms, the longer a sales opportunity sits in any stage of the sales pipeline the less likely that it is to convert. This is because time in stage is the best indicator that an opportunity has or is about to stall. Identifying these stalling deals early improves the chances of getting them back on track. Or if they have stalled it allows them to be removed from the pipeline so that they stop over-inflating the sales forecast.
This is the number of leads it takes to enter and move through your sales pipeline to generate a single successful customer sale. Another way of saying this is that it is the aggregate of all of your pipeline conversion stages and as a result it’s a great indicator of overall lead quality combined with sales performance.
Useful Tools for Sales Pipeline Meetings
Once again the most important tool for this stage of your sales pipeline activity is your sales CRM system. I recommend Pipedrive because it automatically generates reports on the three key sales pipeline health metrics I have shared above.
For instance, Pipedrive allows you to set a deadline for time in each stage of your pipeline. If a deal’s time or age in a given stage goes over the time you have set, the deal will be automatically highlighted in red to ensure it is attended by the sales rep and the sales manager at the earliest opportunity.
In addition to this, there are a range of other lead generation tools that you may wish to consider, all of which integrate with Pipedrive:
- LeadBerry – a website visitor tracking system, which will alert you when leads turn-up on your website. Leadberry lets you view a range of other useful data including website URL, company phone number, e-mail addresses for the key contacts you are interested in. It also serves up profiles for LinkedIn and Twitter contacts that you are connected to.
- Leads411 – is a source of fresh leads that also provides iupdates on leads you’re targeting. For example, you can get alerts to tell you when key contacts change their role or distribute a new social post.
- Lusha – This simple Chrome extension allows your sales reps to research fresh prospects via LinkedIn and Twitter and it reveals direct phone numbers, mobile numbers and email addresses as you browse in your Google Chrome.
Kickstart Sales Meetings with an Energizer
A simple way to get everyone positively focused in a sale pipeline health meeting is to have a 60-second energizer at the start of each meeting. For instance, I’ve participated in sales meetings that always started with “Our Customer’s Do the Most Surprising Things.” This would rotate every week and everyone would come prepared as it’s clear who was going to be up next.
Use an Egg Timer to Keep Things Moving
If your sales meetings tends to run over, a good old fashioned egg time is a great way to run a sales forecast meeting. Each sales rep needs the same time to report and you need to finish on time (see below) without cutting anyone short. When the egg timer goes off, you stop wherever you are and move to the next person. It only takes few weeks before the egg timer is no longer required.
Standardize the Sales Meeting Agenda and Remix
The agenda for sales forecast meetings should have standard agenda items, which are the names of your sales reps. But to keep it interesting, remix the order each time so that everyone gets a chance to kick-off.
Listen More Than You Speak
If you are chairing either of these meetings, ask questions, keep things on track and make note of who you need to follow-up with. However, try to avoid lengthy anecdotes or one-to-one conversations, as this just makes the meeting boring and pointless for the rest of the people patiently waiting for their turn.
End On Time
If you want your sales reps to respect you and enjoy participating in your sales meetings, you need to show that you are in control and this means having the ability to respect other people and finish on time.
Bottom Line: Sales Meetings
Sales meetings are often overlooked in terms of the crucial role they play. The reality is that well-structured sales forecast and sales pipeline health meetings often make the difference between delivering the sales target in your plan or falling short.
I recommend keeping sales forecast and sales pipeline health meetings separate and using a good sales CRM system like Pipedrive to provide a realtime agenda and the metrics you need to support a well-informed sales meeting process.