Deal Review Template
Deal reviews are a vital part of any high performance modern B2B sales organization. They provide a pulse on each deal, an overall sense of pipeline progression, and provide an opportunity for management assistance with deal challenges and roadblocks. However, they are far from universally loved. If done poorly, deal review sessions will be found by both reps and managers as daunting, time-wasting, and counter-productive.
For a sales rep, the deal review process usually involves a couple of hours of preparation time to bring together the key facts of their top 10 deals, followed by a deal review meeting that often feels more like a search for flaws and a questioning of their competence than an effort to assist in moving each deal forward.
For a sales manager, the deal review process often feels like a blind search through dozens of deals that are progressing as one would expect, hoping for a moment of sales insight. Many of the facts to be collected at deal reviews are repetitive, but are colored by the optimistic outlook of many sales professionals.
A Deal Review Template in Two Parts
Deal reviews, in today’s environment, do not need to be this challenging. By dividing the work into two parts; facts and observations, it is possible to minimize the preparation time and stress on participants and maximize both the understanding of deals and the value of management coaching.
Part 1: Facts
The facts of a deal are the objective criteria that can be collected for each deal at any moment of time. They are indicators of health, but are only useful when looked at together, and in context of the sales process stage. All of these facts should be collected automatically with zero sales rep involvement. The best facts to review in a B2B sales environment are:
Single-Threaded: Are we only talking to just a single person, or to more than one person at this account?
Exec Engagement: Have we developed relationships with any decision-makers at a director level or higher?
Functional Roles: What functions (sales, marketing, IT, legal, finance, etc) have been involved in the conversations about this deal?
Deep Relationships: Who have we developed very strong relationships with?
Team Engagement: How many of our (the seller’s) team members are engaged at this account?
Blocking Roles: When were key blocking roles (such as legal or finance) first engaged?
Growing Engagement: Is our engagement at the account growing broader? How many new relationships have we developed since the last review?
Most Recent Communications: When was our last outreach? When was their last communication?
Every fact about a deal can, and should, be automatically tracked and calculated. Each fact is objective, unambiguous, and not subject to sales rep optimism or faulty memory. As each business’s sales motion is unique, some facts will be more relevant than others. Likewise, the importance of each fact will vary throughout the sales process. If you are doing inspecting deals early in the sales process, some facts will not be important at all.
From Facts to Focus
This basis of facts – objective and automatically gathered – is the starting point for a successful deal review process. The facts allow you to hone your focus in two ways; which deals to inspect, and what to review within those deals.
Having each sales person review their top 3 deals (or some similar version of prioritization) is a recipe for time wastage. With a generally competent sales team, most deals are progressing how you would generally hope, and there is not an opportunity for a valuable moment of management insight. Better to focus on the interesting, challenging, or troubled deals and spend more time where it can be most valuable.
For this, the facts allow you to hone your focus, based on deal stage and go-to-market approach. Algorithms, heuristics, or simple filters can quickly find deals that are looking suspicious:
- Expected to close but without executive involvement.
- A large deal at a late stage, that is single-threaded.
- Scheduled to close in three days, but legal just got involved yesterday (and legal is known to usually take three weeks).
- Expected to close shortly, but prospect has gone silent for the last two weeks
- Only your own sales team has been involved in the deal whereas normally your services team would have scoped out an engagement.
- No relationships at the prospect are more than medium-strength, whereas you normally need a passionate internal champion to close a deal
This fact-based heuristic approach to deal review starts by highlighting which deals to review and then hones in on what might be at issue with each deal that is flagged.
Part 2: Connection
The facts, of course, only tell part of the picture. Each deal has its own dynamic, and the art of sales is in managing this unique process while staying alert and aware of red flags that might impact the deal’s progress.
For the deals that are worth reviewing, the deal review conversation can then start from a strong basis of what is going on at the account, who is engaged, and who is not. From there, the conversation moves more into the “art” of selling. The questions to ask are questions that address the emotional aspect of buying, such as:
- What was the story that we told?
- What did they engage with?
- How do they see our value? How would they articulate it in their own words?
- What did not “click” for them?
- What is the compelling event that is driving their decision-making?
- What power dynamic was different than you might expect from the titles in the room?
- What lessons have we learned so far in this engagement?
This combination of fact-based deal analysis to prioritize and focus, and a discussion that gets to the craft of selling leads to the most productive deal reviews. Each conversation begins with a deal that potentially has an interesting or challenging dynamic to it, and each discussion opens up the best opportunity for sales leadership to contribute real insight into how best to move the opportunity forward.
Deal Reviews Require an Intelligent Data Foundation
Moving away from a frustrating and inefficient process for deal reviews means moving away from manual gathering of data. So long as data is collected by hand by each rep, the process will always be constrained by time, made inaccurate by missing data, biased by rep optimism, and limited to the small number of deals that are the largest or most likely to close.
An intelligent data foundation like Nudge is needed to move past this by ensuring that every data point on every deal is collected and measured, objectively, and added to Salesforce or whichever CRM system you use. Facts such as:
- Every contact your team is interacting with at the deal
- The strength of each relationship
- The decision-making level of each individual involved in the deal
- The functional role of each individual
- The history of communication between your team and theirs
With this core foundation, you are quickly able to modernize your deal review process and focus only on the deals that need attention. The pipeline visibility you require becomes possible, and the conversations become guidance opportunities in the craft of selling.