The first thing to understand is that a deal review is about helping the AE with their deal. It’s not a status update or a rehash of the forecast call. In order to help the AE and the sales team, it’s critical to have a standard process (and follow it), so the AE can outline their goals for the review, provide an overview for the team, and come out of the Test and Improve session with constructive feedback that is actionable. The mission of the team is to help the AE test their deal with an eye toward helping them improve their chance to win.
In our Test and Improve sessions, we have a moderator to keep everyone aligned on the process; often this is a peer of the AE reviewing their deal. AEs are given 25 minutes at the start to share the current state of the opportunity. This includes:
- Opportunity qualification (current status and how they have qualified the deal)
- Business problems the customer is trying to solve
- Key people and influencers (and the relationship status of those key to the deal on the customer team)
- Strategy to win the business
This is where the AE’s prep for the session is important, as they need to be able to articulate the goals, obstacles, initiatives, and pressures that are driving the customer’s business.
Following the AE’s overview, we give the deal review participants 10 minutes to ask questions to gain clarification on the current state of the opportunity. The AE responds to each question for the benefit of everyone on the call. It’s best if the AE can provide verifiable customer evidence to properly answer the questions.
For example, someone asks, “How do you know there is a compelling event?” A good answer would look something like, “I talked to the SVP of Sales, John Mack. He has confirmed that he wants us to be part of their sales training at SKO on January 15–16t in Orlando, Florida.” In cases where the AE doesn’t know the answer, it’s okay for them to say they don’t know and take an action to get more detail.
Through the questioning process, we are building a stronger case and gaining a better understanding as to what is happening with the customer. We’re also providing fresh thinking for the AE to clarify key information surrounding the people and problems in the account. This understanding of people, problems, and priorities sets the basis for potential solutions. Again, the goal here is further qualification and insight on the opportunity and situation, not to stump the AE or pass judgment on the account team.
Next, we have the review participants state any vulnerabilities they have identified and provide corresponding recommendations they have for the AE and team. The idea is to pressure-test the opportunity and find the weak spots that could prevent getting the deal done. We want to find new approaches and suggest opportunities to improve. We ask the team to match vulnerabilities about the deal with proposed recommendations so that the AE has actionable feedback and can improve their chance to win.
The questioning, vulnerability identification, and recommendation process is confined to 30 minutes so we wrap in the hour. Having a moderator is key to keeping everyone on time and aligned to the process. We make a point to ensure that the AE takes five minutes to conclude the call with their actions and follow-ups — including what help they need from the team and from me as the CEO. Deal reviews done well should result in immediate actions, which are shared across the team.