Sales Status Meetings – Are They Meaningless?

Sales Manager


This article gets right to the heart of many sales pipeline calls.

“I don’t give a shit about sales status” is great!

Taken directly from Kira Moore’s blog:

Sales Manager – “Hey Bob, what’s the status on the Techform opportunity?”

BOB –  “It looks good, we’re waiting on the results of the demo and for the CIO to approve the solution.

Sales Manager – “Are we going to close it?”

BOB – “Yes, things are coming along.  I should hear about it next week.”

Sales Manager – “Is there anything we can do to move things along?”

BOB – “No, we’re good.  I spoke with them last week and they told me everything is good.”

Sales Manager – “Great, keep me in the loop.” 

Unfortunately this is often a realistic depiction of what happens.  I can really appreciate the pre-programmed response from the sales manager that I’ve heard throughout my career.  In many businesses, mid-level management is stuck in a process oriented reporting box where he or she is required to format, edit, and review potential sales, both pipelines and forecasts, and send them up the chain.  I have worked for great sales managers and not so great managers over the years.  Unfortunately, some managers have never sold or haven’t sold in years, but I’ll give them credit, most managers have to deal with similar pressures from management above them and are forced to answer much like the salespeople below them.

Interestingly though, sometimes an MBA and a great resume is just not enough of a pre-requisite to managing talented salespeople in an aggressive results driven environment.  The best salespeople, the ones that close the biggest deals, need to be left alone to do what they do. The sales manager, as discussed in Kira Moore’s blog, needs to ask the right questions.

Questions like:

  • Is there a chance the results of the demo won’t be favorable?
  • If so, what happens?
  • What is the customer looking for in the demo?
  • Will the demo provide the results they want?
  • How will they be measuring “success?”
  • When’s the last time you spoke with the CIO?
  • What does she need to approve the deal?
  • What evidence do you have that even if we get approval it will close next week?
  • You said you are waiting on the results, what exactly are you waiting on?
  • What evidence do you have that is going happen?
  • Could the results divide the customer into two camps?
  • If so, what will we do?
  • What is our backup strategy?
  • What can we do now, that can influence the decision?
  • What is OUR next step, besides waiting? Why?

I have to laugh when I hear the question “is there anything you need to help move things along?”  This is a polite rhetorical question because the manager doesn’t really expect a response other than “no” and if they do that salesperson might be considered difficult or needy.  So, posing the question is sheer courtesy or lazy habit rather than anything else.

Salespeople do need to be educated, trained, and coached by talented leaders. If management is pinning them on a conference call or in a room once a week asking status on their pipelines, and only talking to their salespeople during this time, this is problematic.  Management should be looking at creative strategies to drive sales like aligning better resources;  finding the best trainers and coaches to make their salesforce better.  Also, focusing on what is going on in the territories in order to gauge what the competition is doing and ensuring that quotas are realistic and attainable.

If the sales force within your organization isn’t making their quotas, it’s time to set appropriate expectations to senior management, align realistic quotas, get better resources for salespeople, potentially find better salespeople, train and make the good salespeople even better, and revaluate your services or product offering to ensure that it is unique and strong enough to sell in a competitive marketplace.

Tony Bilby

Best Habits for Sales Success

beautiful woman writing a business concept

Business Concept

I read a lot about sales techniques and how to harness the most productive strategies.  As a sales consultant I want to be the best and at the top of my game.  Brian Tracy, and his article “The 7 Sales Training Tips of Sale Success”

provides the most fundamental guidance I can think of:

  1. Get serious – That means studying, certifying, and most importantly, getting out in front of key decision makers with real value propositions and great technology services and offerings.
  1. Figure out what is holding you back – identify that weakest skill and then set your mind to making it better.  For me, as with many salespeople, sometimes I lack the best organizational skills to consistently manage my time the most effective way possible.  As a salesperson you should be focusing on the most important tasks, which usually revolve around customer meetings, follow through, and post sales customer service.  If you’re spending your days updating reports and spreadsheets and emailing other people internal to your company, you might want to focus more on prospecting and touching base with customers that have budgets.
  1. Get around the right people – This is 100% true!  If you are spending time around people that complain, make excuses, and generally want to do things other than be productive you are not flying with the Eagles.
building a great team

Build a Great Team!

  1. Take care of your health – this is a critical one for me that I really need to work on as well.  There should never not be not enough time in the day to focus on the most critical aspect of your life – your body and your health.  Stress, overwork, lack of exercise, poor diet, and bad habits like nicotine and alcohol can turn your life upside down if your body decides enough is enough.  Figure out a time to exercise, eat right, and do things in moderation.  As Mr. Tracy mentions, you will be dealing with constant rejection and discouragement throughout the work week, so find a way to deal with it positively and productively.
  1. Imagine yourself at the top – try to visualize success.  I have the hardest time with this as the mind most naturally will gravitate towards the negative and it becomes an easy habit to harbor negativity when customers consistently say no rather than yes.  Turn it around.  Visualize the win and visualize a year and years of abundance and success!
  1. Practice positive self talk – absolutely.  Do it.  Never get down on yourself as you are the designer and creator of your destiny.  If you can’t be positive about yourself then others won’t gravitate positively toward you either.
  1. Take positive action towards your goals – be action oriented and move quickly.  Get out there in front of customers all the time. The more customers you meet, as Tracy mentions, the more chance to sell.  Make seeing customers, moving quickly, and talking to decision makers a top priority.

Tony Bilby



Propulsion, Sales, Tony Bilby

Space Shuttle

Propulsion. Seth Godin recently published the blog post, “Hot: A Theory of Propulsion.” A bit abstract, it seems to largely concern the fact that, in this day and age, stationary things fall by the wayside. We need action to acknowledge something as significant. We spend our lives guided by interactive screens that present breaking news, interactive games, and moving GIF’s. While I do not necessarily desire to speak to the current state of contemporary society, I do think the application of “propulsion” to sales is to say the least, significant.

As a salesperson, you need to take initiative. Very rarely, if ever, will you make an effortless sale. You need to propel yourself, to show action in closing a deal. By establishing authority in conversation by way of talking, you are affecting change. One way to do this is skillfully mentioned in Diane Lamont’s blog, “The ‘How’ of Asking Sales Questions”.

While yes, as the sales associate, you must be the one to provoke and prolong conversation, there is a delicate line to toe. You want to involve your prospective customer in a dialogue that does not feel forced but rather fluid. There should be a light atmosphere and casual air surrounding the conversation as statements and replies seamlessly complement each other, building to the foregone conclusion of a closed sale.

One way to facilitate this is through asking questions. Questions illustrate curiosity and care so long as they are asked with deft ability. Inquire about customers’ interests if you know them, and allow them to speak on their passion. Ideally, this will warm the waters and reduce any awkward tension arising from potential social insecurity. Conversation is similar to exercising, and a warm-up lets you ease your muscles into the work-out before lifting heavier weight. The same goes for talking. Warm up a bit and present a friendly image rather than that of the pushy salesman.

Of course, implementing personal questions is easier said than done, like everything else. One must properly balance questions throughout the dialogue and illustrate a sort of active listening. Display that you are listening to what is being said while it is being said rather than just mentally queuing up your next question. One way to do this is by repeating the information back at your customer, like “If I’m hearing you correctly…” or “it is my understanding then, that…”. By displaying comprehension, you are displaying that you care about the customer, because you clearly care enough to listen to what the customer is saying.

Propel yourself forward. Take action. Be active even in seemingly passive activities like listening.  Propel your presence and make the sale!