How to Conduct (Peer) Deal Reviews
Studies show that sales leaders who operate with a consistent and repeatable sales cadence outperfom those who don't. Daily huddles, and a weekly sales forceast have become commonplace for most sales teams. As part of their weekly cadence, top sales leaders are now incorporating deal reviews into their operational cadence, especially for strategic accounts, highly competitive opportunities and must-win deals. In this blog post I'm going to share with you how to structure a deal review and the benefits of peer deal reviews.
Deal reviews are all about helping the salesperson win the deal. A deal review is not to provide the all too common "status update" or duplicate what is covered in the sales forecast call. To begin running deal reviews, the first step is to structure a framework for your sales team to follow for reviewing each deal. Part of the structure and expectations should include each salesperson coming prepared to share what their goal is of the deal review (their deal being reviewed by the sales team), providing an overview of their opportunity and having a specific call to action as a result from the deal review.
One such model for conducting deal reviews that has gained traction is deal reviews by peers. The way this works is the sales team meets in a conference room (or by conference call) once a week where each salesperson comes prepared to share one of their deals with their team. They begin by having a peer of the salesperson act as the moderator or faciliator to keep the pace of the meeting and each deal review on point. The salesperson presenting begins by sharing all of the details of their deal including the qualification criteria, compelling event, admitted pain, budget and funding, strategy to win, and all of the other relevant details. The objective of the peer deal review is for the team to help the salesperson see their opportunity objectively and test the validity of the opportunity and likelihood to close with the goal of helping the sales rep improve their chances of winning.
This is where the salespesrson's understanding of their opportunity and preparation for the deal review is important, as they need to be able to articulate to the team their customer's goals, obstacles, initiatives, and pain points that are compelling the customer to leave the status quo. After the salesperson's deal overview, peers are given time to ask questions about the deal to gain clarification in which the salesperson responds to each question for the benefit of everyone in the meeting. Ideally, the salesperson should be able to share verifiable outcomes with the team when answering questions to demonstrate where the customer resides in their buying journey, but this doesn't always happen which is part of the value of the exercise.
For example, someone may ask, “How do you know what the compelling event is?” A good answer might sound something like, “I spoke with the VP of Marketing and he has confirmed that their web site traffic is down 18% and their ecommerce revenue is also down 9% and that if this continues they will miss their revenue target. He has confirmed he wants to meet with us to discuss a new solution on Wednesday, October 4.” In instances in which the salesperson doesn't know the answer, they take that as an action item to follow up with the customer to get addtional details.
The Q&A process is what provides the salesperson with clarity regarding what they know about their customer and what is happening with their business and what they don't know about their customer. This questioning process provides the salesperson with fresh ideas and objective perspective for clarifying key information surrounding the details of the deal. The goal here is for deeper deal qualification and insight on the opportunity, and for the sales team to learn from each other, not to stump the AE or judge his or her opportunity or customer. This objective perspective is what gives the salesperson insight for how to proceed including a strategy for winning the deal.
Next, the deal review team shares with the salesperson any vulnerabilities (for wining) they have identified and recommendations for overcoming those vulnerabilities. The idea here is to stress-test the weak spots that could prevent the deal from closing and coming up with solutions to overcome those weak spots. Additionally, the goal is for the team to come up with new, innovative ideas and suggestions for all team members to benefit from.
The questioning, stress testing, identification (of vulnerabilities) and recommendations for action should take no longer than 30 minutes. Again, having a moderator is key to keeping the meeting on point. To conculde the meeting the salesperson shares with the team what their follow up actions are inculding what addtional help they may need and from who.
Below are six primary benefits of conducting peer deal reviews:
- Identify weaknesses or vulnerabilities with each salesperson's deal
- Remove obstacles or objections the salesperson is currently facing, prevent stalled sales cycles
- Peer to peer feedback vs. manager deal review. Peer feedback is invaluable for salespeople (and recruiters)
- Allow sales team members to be coached by their peers, let the manager watch and observe and learn
- Help the sales team move faster so they can close faster and move on to the next opportunity
- Build team comaraderie
It’s important to capture all the feedback from the review so it’s actionable for the salesperson. This probably goes without saying, but a deal review should be a safe space for the sales team to solicit help, stress-test their deal, and improve their chances of winning.
When done right, you will see your sales win rates increase. A consistent deal review process focused on testing and improving existing opportunities will make everyone, starting with the salesperson more successful. What process do you and your team have in place for reviewing deals?
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.