Your Desire for Constant Pipeline Updates is Actually Hurting Your Sales Process

What most non-salespeople don't understand is the struggle to build trust & rapport between seller and prospect. Sure, follow up is important and persistence is key. But, the cadence of your follow up should be dependent on the prospect and not when your manager has to provide their boss with an update.


The idea that somehow following up more frequently with a prospect will get them to move quicker is outrageous. The only decision you will help them come to is "LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE!" At some point, you have to just accept the fact that you are at the mercy of your prospect's buying cycle. There are several meetings that must occur behind closed doors without you involved to move the deal forward. Your prospect doesn't owe you anything. They aren't obligated to give you a call and provide updates on meetings that happened in their building.


What you, as a manager, should really care about is who owns the next step. Do we need to provide the prospect with something or does the prospect need to provide us with something? If you have multiple conversations in a row with a sales rep where the next step falls on the company to provide the prospect something, then you are failing as a manager and you look like an ass.


Manager: "Do you have any updates on the Pied Piper deal?"

Rep: "Yes, we need to add cost estimates to the proposal."


{2 days later}


Manager: "What's the latest on Pied Piper?"

Rep: "Still waiting on the engineering team for cost estimates"


{1 day later}


Manager: "Pied Piper?"

Rep: "Still nothing from engineering"


On the flip side, if the prospect owes you something, it might go something like this:


Manager: "Do you have any updates on the Pied Piper deal?"

Rep: "Yes, they are supposed to meet internally to discuss the budget for this project."


{2 days later}


Manager: "What's the latest on Pied Piper?"

Rep: "Still waiting on them to get back to me"


{1 day later}


Manager: "Pied Piper?"

Rep: "Still nothing"


This kind of exchange is the reason salespeople follow up with short emails that deliver no value, "Hey [prospect], did you meet with your team to discuss budget yet?" This is one of the reasons why sales professionals get a bad reputation. How many different ways, and what frequency can you send emails like this until you completely annoy your prospective client?


The answer to the original question, "How Frequently Do You Really Need a Pipeline Update?", is hopefully never. You should be able to go into your CRM and see the latest on every account of interest. If you have specific questions about a deal, go walk over to the rep's desk, and ask the question. Full pipeline reviews should be reserved for quarterly meetings at best.


Unfortunately, I've been a part of organizations that have multiple pipeline reviews per week with different audiences. It was brutal. The same information was presented several times per week and then again the next week. Reps ended up spending more time in meetings talking about their deals than in the field trying to close them.


If you've done a good job at interviewing and hiring, then you've got talented, capable people on your team. So what you should really do is get the hell out of their way and let them sell.


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