Science of the deal review

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min read

What does a great deal review look like is a question we often get. As we near the end of Q2 and set up for the rest of the year, let’s dive into the topic.

The dreaded “no decision” from a prospect is one of the greatest challenges facing sellers and leaders in B2B sales. “Not now” is up there too. Both outcomes create many problems for sales teams.

The time and cost of getting a deal this far into the selling process were significant.

  • How else could this time have been spent?
  • What other tasks and activities could have been prioritized?
  • Prospecting?
  • Deeper discovery?
  • A more thorough proposal for another prospective customer?

At worst, the impact can lead to missed targets. Are other deals in the sales pipeline real or a mirage?

Many factors can contribute to deals not closing. It’s important to zero in on each one to understand why there’s a delay or lack of a decision from the buyer. The best time for the first deal review on an opportunity is mid-funnel.

Before unpacking this further, let’s start with some simple definitions.

What do we mean by a deal review?

A deal review is a meeting between a sales representative and leadership. The objective is to map out the influencers and decision-makers on the buyer side, assess the quality of the relationships, and make sure the reasons and timing of the transaction are solid.

It’s also an opportunity to brainstorm potential sales strategies to accelerate deals or to upsize them using insight gleaned from prospect conversations.

Completing a deal review helps your team assess the likelihood of a deal progressing while there’s still time to influence it.

What a successful deal review looks like

A successful deal review cuts to the core of its likelihood to close and helps devise or refine a winning strategy. To do this the deal review should have a set agenda, and the manager should come prepared with questions.

Another key component to driving successful deal reviews is having them early in the opportunity management process. The same questions to consider are:

Was the deal properly vetted from the start?

Has the prospect bought something like this before?

If not, why now?

A winnable deal in a reasonable time frame

To know whether or not a deal was vetted from the beginning, you must know if the sales rep has a handle on the basics. Great communication is key in life, and especially within your sales team.

The “why now” question is a great place to start. If the deal is in the pipeline, then there should be an answer to this question. Without a quality answer to this question, the probability of a “long maybe” jumps. Discussions like these keep your sales team grounded in the facts and help avoid the downside of assumption, interpretation, or extrapolation.

Identifying reasons why a deal may get “stuck”

An effective deal review requires openness and transparency. Done well, it is an opportunity to help a sales rep grow and learn. The result is an even better plan of attack when they’re working independently.

Collaborating also opens the door for the sales rep and manager to work together on a plan to move the deal forward. By doing this, a sales leader will have a solid understanding of the deal’s stage and what needs to be done to support the sales team’s strategy.

The goal is to use this time to collaborate on strategies, not to coach the rep. Focus on the deal itself and work with the sales rep to ensure it stays on track.

Deal reviews are an opportunity to “upscope”

In the course of a deal review, there may be opportunities to find ways to expand the scope of your solution so that it aligns with the prospect’s larger strategy.

Sales reps and their manager can identify prospect needs that haven’t been articulated early, but provide opportunities to sell additional services competitors cannot sell.

For example, when talking to a prospect in the early stages of an opportunity, ask them “What does your ideal solution look like?” This is one of our favorite questions for it serves as a good starting point to understanding a prospect’s needs and where they want to go.

Tips on conducting a successful deal review

All of the components listed above will help significantly with moving deals through the pipeline. They will also save you from spending valuable time on those unlikely to close.

We are also sharing a few more tips from our playbook to help with successful deal reviews.

First, be sure to ask the “right” questions. While the word choice may vary, below are a few of these essentials:

  • What problem does the buyer want to solve?
  • How is the buyer solving their problem today?
  • What will happen if the buyer doesn’t solve the problem?
  • What does their ideal solution look like?
  • What is the buyer’s decision process?

With these questions you will either get answers or your rep will discover new ways to understand your prospect’s needs. Either way, it will involve more strategizing and moving the deal forward

Secondly, as a leader don’t be overly optimistic about deals in the early stages of the pipeline. Having a realistic vision is key to setting your rep up for success.

Be wary of an overly enthusiastic prospect that may cause a sales rep to get jazzed about a deal, but is unlikely to close. This can cause the rep to become less grounded.

Stay practical as a manager, and your sales rep will too. Deals will not move farther down the pipeline when the ones driving the conversations are not critically assessing interest.

If the prospect is signaling interest, then it is still critical to ask questions about the timeline and need. While they may seem uncomfortable, the prospect expects them.

Lastly, you have a choice when you hear “I don’t know” from the buyer. Either disqualify and move on or find out why. This could be a way to define success criteria on your terms.

Keeping a low-probability deal around that is unlikely to close is a waste of time. Your time is better spent elsewhere.

Make deal reviews a part of your process.

As we’ve shown, deals can get “stuck” at certain stages of the sales pipeline or sales reps may not be asked the right questions by their manager. This can create uncertainty and lead to unfavorable revisions of your sales forecasting.

Conduct deal reviews early to identify potential blockers, and foster communication and collaboration up, down, and across the sales team.

By making deal reviews an integral part of your sales process, you can help avoid stuck deals and the dreaded “no decision.” New clarity in your pipeline will lead to higher deal close rates and more accurate forecasting.

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