My doctor once told me that I should always check my bits to make sure everything is healthy. Well, she was right. Of course she was, she’s a doctor.

But she was right in more ways than she could imagine.

In business, it’s also important to check your bits regularly. Your sales pipeline is the biggest bit of your business; a visual representation of it. Conducting regular sales pipeline review isn’t just professional, it’s essential.

This article answers all the following questions to do with sales pipeline reviews…

Let’s get checking!

What is a sales pipeline review?

Well let’s start from the beginning - what is a sales pipeline? A sales pipeline is a visual representation of your whole sales process. It tracks all those customers who your reps are currently negotiating with from when they are first prospected as leads, to when they become loyal customers for your brand… and beyond. We’ve got an article all about sales pipelines, go read it.

It’s all well-and-good to have a sales pipeline, but if you don’t check it there’s no point.

A sales pipeline review is a meeting where sales reps report to their managers what deals they have in their pipeline, and how the sales process is going for them. These meetings look at obstacles to closing deals, offering a chance to head-bump and get over those obstacles. They provide encouragement and motivation, but above all they paint the bigger business picture.

A sales pipeline review is essential for any business with a sales pipeline at the heart of their business for many reasons and metrics to be checked.

Why is a sales pipeline review important?

A sales pipeline review gives a clear, far-reaching understanding of where an organisation is headed in terms of success; in the long-term and short-term. Leaders of that organisation are able to forecast and figure out what they need to do with their business, where they need to focus their resources, and where they can afford to take some of them away. It’s a birds-eye view of your whole business.

  • Look for critical opportunities that can’t be missed.
  • Track individual and team goals.
  • Offer support for upcoming challenges and obstacles.
  • Plan what happens next in a particular deal.
  • Develop insights for a better sales process going forward.

A sales pipeline review also gives individual sales reps a better idea of how they’re doing in their job. Are they the top banana? Or are they teetering on the brink of losing their job, their house, their spouse… and sleeping in the car? Either way, a sales pipeline review tells them clearly what they need to focus on in the coming week, fortnight, or month depending on their frequency.

Regular sales pipeline reviews aren’t just professional, they’re essential. They create clear, regular lines of communication for a sales rep to communicate with their manager. And, as our sales manager, Anastasia Tatsenko puts so perfectly…

“Can I be blunt? They give you a picture of whether or not your business is about to go bankrupt or not.”

Anastasia Tatsenko, Head of Customer Success

How to organise a sales pipeline review

A sales pipeline review isn’t just a one-time thing. For it to be successful, effective even, it needs to become part of the culture of your business. It should be part of your sales reps’ and leaders’ job descriptions, and they should know when it’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen so they can be best prepared and get the most out of it. For this, we should ask ourselves some questions.

Who should be part of my sales pipeline review?

Sales pipeline reviews tend to be one of two formats - one-to-one, between a sales manager and each rep; or they can be whole-team free-for-alls, and you can get Marketing involved if you want.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and each business will have its own preferences.

In a one-to-one sales pipeline review, there’s no hiding for individual sales reps. It helps them directly address their challenges and obstacles, retaining focus on exactly what they need to do in order to succeed. The disadvantages to this format is that they take longer to conduct across large teams and you don’t get the benefit of hivemind, where everybody can help overcome hurdles.

In a group sales pipeline review, it becomes harder to focus time on one specific problem. It seems like a good idea to get the team in one room and use one rep’s problem as a trigger to learn something new for the rest of the team and with the Marketing and Customer Success teams involved, you can get to the core of any pipeline action that needs to be taken next.

The Verdict

Small businesses and teams benefit from lessons learnt with group discussion about what happens next with certain issues; hivemind. With large businesses, it becomes difficult to maintain focus on problems and messages get diluted; one-to-one reviews are the way to go. Larger cross-team meetings could be held less frequently that one-to-one meeting, helping us reap the benefits of both sales pipeline review formats.

How often should I conduct a sales pipeline review?

Should you hold a pipeline review bi-weekly, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly? Well, it all depends on your business, your average deal length, and your sales process. It depends on the experience of your sales team and how much guidance they need. But… you need an answer to this question, so we asked some sales leaders how often they hold a sales pipeline review.

“We have recently adopted a fortnightly pipeline review; a mid-point check and a month wrap-up.”

- William Oleksiienko from

“I hold a pipeline review with my team weekly. It's a one-on-one meeting with a sales rep. It's held on Monday or Friday to sum up the previous week and discuss plans for the upcoming one.”

- Anastasia Tatsenko from NetHunt CRM

“We have one every week.”

- Dipak Vadera from Leadfeeder

Results vary, but we can gather from these answers that sales leaders like to hold regular pipeline reviews to keep on top of things. The danger is holding them too regularly, wasting sales team time, and subjecting them to meeting-fatigue. Holding them less regularly, opportunities might get missed, problems are left to mature and get stronger, and sales reps are left in the dark.

The Verdict

The more regular, the better… but you’ve got to give your sales team time to breathe. The differences in regularity between our sales leaders comes from differences in management style and business-type. It’s best to test different regularities of your sales pipeline review to find out which works best for your team. Failing that, ask them.

How long should a sales pipeline review be?

A sales pipeline review duration should be anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on how many people attend. Don’t waste peoples’ time with a too-short or too-long sales pipeline review. Find that sweet spot; all killer, no filler.

What should we discuss in a sales pipeline review?

The most important aspect of your sales pipeline review isn’t its regularity or who attends, but what’s in it. Your sales pipeline review agenda can cover any number of topics or sales metrics, and it’s definitely better to go in there with a solid idea of what you want to know and what you want to get sorted by the end of it. Here is a sales pipeline review agenda template, with percentages representing how much of the meeting should be spent on this topic.

Wins for the past week (20%)

For reps, especially less-experienced ones, a regular sales pipeline review might be daunting. I know myself that direct reviews of performance with superiors can be a bit much. It’s important to take the edge off. Celebrating wins from the last period is more important than you think; it offers a morale boost for employees, lifting spirits and bringing motivation for the next one.

A tip: For closed deals it’s important to analyse why they closed. Think about what that customer’s motivation was for buying your product and which problems they’re trying to solve in doing so.

Have you tried sales gamification? It’s an internal strategy, visualising and gamifying sales metrics to pit sales reps against each other in the name of friendly competition. Sales reps, by nature, are competitive people. By gamifying their day-to-day tasks, team leaders can take advantage of this to boost motivation and improve sales performance. It’s fun and it spices things up a little.

It brings a vibe to group pipeline reviews.

NetHunt recommends...

Hoopla is a sales gamification software with a heap of different features to get the adrenaline flowing for a sales team. Beautiful sales leaderboards offer up-to-date insights on team performance; heated sales contests such as battles, tournaments, races, and face-offs engage the workplaces; deal alerts offer on the spot recognition for employees who smash a big deal; and showcases put those sales leaders on a pedestal.

A pipeline update (40%)

Well, it wouldn’t be much of a review without a closer look at the ins-and-outs of the sales pipeline. A good way to think about this section of the sales pipeline review is in terms of before and after. What has happened in the time since the last review and have things changed. Then, what do we want to see happen on the pipeline in the period until your next review.

  1. Follow up on the last pipeline review and progress made since the last meeting
  2. Review all the most recent high-priority updates on deals currently in the pipeline

In a one-to-one pipeline review meeting, you’ll be able to look at reps’ individual activities on the sales pipeline. So... this is the part where I tell you how CRM helps, and it does. You can simplify pipeline breakdowns with custom views and filters in NetHunt CRM. This way, you can create and save specific views and use them as deal reviews for individual reps. Easily.

  • We can filter by time to see deals that entered the pipeline one week ago to see how they have progressed. By doing this, we can see the overall amount of deals assigned to that rep in the pipeline and their forecasted revenue. This gives managers plenty to talk about in the review.
  • We can filter by deals expected to close in the upcoming period to give us a picture of what a rep needs to do until the next pipeline review, outlining different actions they need to take and knowing what is expected of them. It helps us forecast and plan our sales pipeline activities.
  • We can filter by deals that haven’t changed their pipeline stage for some time, giving us an opportunity to brainstorm what the hold-up is and what the dealbreaker could be for these deals.

At the end we’ll have what we need to come out of there with - an actionable plan.

Ask the same questions for each deal we want to talk about. Each deal is individual, it has its own anomalies, issues, and quirks. When asking our sales rep about individual deals, we should always ask the same questions. Not only does this help with brevity in a sales pipeline review, but it also means nothing gets missed.

  • What’s happened so far?
  • What are the next steps?
  • What needs to happen to close the deal?
  • What’s the anticipated timeline?

Roadblocks for the upcoming week (20%)

On the other hand, it’s also important to discuss the major hurdles that each rep faces in the upcoming period. These might be particularly important deals they have, problems that they are facing and need some advice from their superiors for, or first-time, deal-specific problems that require that hivemind, group discussion that we were talking about earlier.

  • Pursuing wrong, low-quality leads; having the wrong priorities.
  • Prospects or leads who are having a hard time saying no. They should be identified.
  • A lack of internal materials or sales enablements to get a deal over the line.
  • Sales objections from specific customers that they should follow up.
Why your sales pipeline is stagnant and how to fix it
A complete guide to sales pipeline stagnation and all the ways in which you can fix it.

A competitor update (20%)

Not an update from your competitors - which might be a little hard to organise - but rather, an update about your competitors. Sales reps hear comparisons to competing businesses frequently. We can take this information and share it with the rest of the team, and with Marketing, giving everybody the advantage of knowing what competitors are doing and dealing with any future objections they face. Put your sales team on the front foot in negotiations.

Sales pipeline review best practices

Use CRM to centralise, gather, and declutter pipeline data.

NetHunt CRM’s filtering and advanced filtering features give users the opportunity to see deals based on different criteria in the pipeline. They’re a versatile feature, allowing managers and reps to micro-filter the pipeline down to any variable or combination of variables they need.

By clicking this magic little button, we can find our filter variables. As you can see, we can filter by different fields such as manager and where the deal is in the sales pipeline, and we can accumulate these filters to find the deals we need for the sales pipeline review.

Maybe we want to find all the users that have been added to the pipeline through LinkedIn, so we can see how effective it is as a lead generation channel.

Easy! But if that’s not enough of an explanation for you, try this. Our gorgeous customer success team is ready, willing, and waiting for you to call them for a demo on how to use filters and all the other awesome features of our CRM system. Simply head here, and we’ll hook you up with one of them. They’ll figure out exactly how you can get the most out of NetHunt CRM for your specific business needs.

Ask questions.

A sales pipeline review is for the benefit of the business, but also for the benefit of individual sales reps and managers. Whilst the main outcome should be that a rep has a certain set of actions that they should come away with, the sales manager also stands to gain a lot of insight into how well they are managing their team, their pipeline, and their business. Ask questions.

  • Does everyone have enough coverage?
  • What progress has been made since the last meeting?
  • Which prospect is likely to close next?
  • What will help accelerate decision-making for that deal?
  • Which challenges pose a risk to us?

Embrace urgency, but not pressure.

Before you conduct a sales pipeline review, it’s a good idea to have all those key metrics visualised for everybody to see. They don’t necessarily need to be discussed, but common knowledge for the team; a yardstick of pipeline expectations. Metrics should be business-specific.

Have metrics in mind as a comparison for what’s going on.

Before you conduct a sales pipeline review, it’s a good idea to have all those key metrics visualised for everybody to see. They don’t necessarily need to be discussed, but common knowledge for the team; a yardstick of pipeline expectations. Metrics should be business-specific.

Some metrics to consider.

Average sales cycle and conversion rate both determine whether your sales pipeline is healthy. Lead velocity rate helps measure pipeline health month-on-month. Cost per acquisition and lead source metrics point to the best lead acquisition channels for marketers to focus and allocate more budget to, so they’re more effective. Customer lifetime value puts a monetary value on a customer’s time in dealing with your business. It gives a better idea on which cross-selling and upselling opportunities might be open, and whether retention strategies work.

Focus on action, rather than analysis.

If you take away one nugget of information from this whole article, let it be this. Sales pipeline reviews need to be action-orientated, rather than numbers-based. They need to be positive rather than negative, with problems broken down into smaller ‘to-do actions’.

In the end, a sales rep should come away with a detailed action plan of what to do next, and the sales manager should have trust in their rep that they can execute this plan and close the deal. Ask one more question…

… What comes next?

Well, I’ll tell you what comes next. You’re going to hit Google Calendars, or whatever other time-management system you use, and you’re going to book a sales pipeline review for your team...

... And you’re gonna check your bits before it’s too late.

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