March 30, 2019

4 Crucial Questions To Run Your SaaS Sales Meeting

by Stijn Hendrikse

CRM became mainstream in the late nineties. Siebel was the go-to tool for most big companies. I still have my expensive North Face Jacket that we were given as a “reward” to getting all our opportunities entered into our pipeline at Microsoft in the Netherlands.

After entering our opportunities, and tracking the day-to-day calls, emails and meeting notes, the next step was to use the new minted CRM funnel to make our sales meetings more productive.

How to run a Sales Meeting?

Since 1999, I’ve seen sales meetings in many shapes and forms. Some use a printout of the latest pipeline and let everyone speak to it, others are very casual and just follow a “what’s happening in your world?” round table format. The latter is too casual in my opinion, and the first format is a huge time suck with few insights and a lot of repetition. Both formats run the risk of sales team members feeling micromanaged by their complete team.

Here is the format I’ve come to like after 20 years.

B2B SaaS Sales Meeting Purpose

It’s important to “buy in” to the reality that sales meetings are not meant to be easy. They go to the core of driving growth, and are a great way to drive the company rhythm, focus and speed.

Sales team members should feel a bit nervous about the weekly sales meeting, just like Athletes are supposed to be a bit nervous for try-outs or timed training sessions. It should be a Healthy Tension that drives learning, accountability and most importantly growth of the business and your team’s effectiveness.

Sales Meeting Frequency

Weekly is the way to go. Opportunities that are blocked need to get addressed quickly, and a weekly rhythm is something the team can get used to. A lower frequency usually leads to team members “forgetting” to prep, and when meetings fall through due to for example holidays you can really fall behind. 

Sales Meeting Length

For a Sales team of 4-8 people, my meetings are usually scheduled for 90 minutes, but the agenda is geared toward ending after 60 minutes. The extra half hour allows for a quick deep dive into an opportunity that needs immediate attention, while the rest of the team can leave the meeting. I make a strong effort to always end the general agenda in 60 minutes. 

If your team is smaller you should be able to speed things up, and if the team is larger you may want to consider splitting your team. For most B2B SaaS companies, the first logical split is to separate Sales of New Logos and Account Management (Customer Success) managing renewals and up-sell of existing clients.

Sales Meeting Preparation

My sales team members fill out four questions every week, ideally the afternoon/evening before the day of the sales meeting (I like to hold Sales Meetings on Tuesday or Wednesday so there is time to make progress in the week, and time left in the week to course-correct and close some wins.

 

1. What genuine progress has been made since our last review?

This question helps prevent a repetition of the same information in your weekly sales meeting. It also drives focus to make sure every week shows progress on most opportunities.

As long as opportunities (“deals” in Hubspot, or S1 to S7 in Salesforce) are “owned” by an Account Executive, they should show progress on a weekly basis. If not, it might be time to consider it lost and move it to a nurture state.

 

2. What new leads have entered your pipeline since our last review?

Question number two is all about connecting sales and marketing. Not only do we want to make sure new leads get followed up fast, we also want to keep a pulse on lead quality and funnel health.

 

3. Which opportunity in your pipeline is most likely to close and why?

This question helps with forecast discipline. Over time your team will get better in predicting the short term future. Accurate forecasting is critical to help your Customer Success team anticipate on-boarding needs like capacity for training and implementation. This also helps with your own report to your leadership team and board regarding expected revenue bookings.

 

4. Who can help you close this deal or increase the probability of a win?

Help your team feel comfortable asking for help. Ideally they don’t wait till the sales meeting to bring you or others in. It helps to have this focused question weekly to remind everyone that they are not alone.

 

Action Items Ownership

In addition to the weekly update based on these four questions, I expect my team members to keep track of their own open action items, and report on these as well in this weekly email.

 

The afternoon/evening before

Team members should send this email update to all meeting attendees the day before the meeting.

While it takes ~10 minutes weekly to write this, it saves at least 5 minutes per person in the actual sales meeting because people can read each others detailed updates, and we don’t need to discuss everything at the meeting.

If your team pushes back on writing these weekly updates, explain that the 10 min investment will usually yield 30+ min of time saved in the sales meeting.

Finally, the answers to these 4 questions should be easy to provide by just pulling these numbers and data point out of CRM as long as this is up-to-date. Driving this discipline is a great way to nudge the team to update CRM the day before the sales meeting.

Sales Meeting Agenda

Open every meeting with an Action Item update based on the emails from all team members the day before. Anything that’s falling behind should be addressed by asking why it’s past due and what’s needed to get it done. Action items that are not worth finishing should never have become action items, and the ones that are worth in deserve attention to get completed. 

 

Example Agenda

900-910 - Resolve Past Due Action Items

910-930 - Questions regarding update emails from individual team members from day before

930-1000 - Rotating Special Topics

The second half of the meeting is used for specific topics that change weekly. Here is a list that I use as my default. The list spans a 13 week Quarter and repeats 4 times per year.

The frequency is aligned with using OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) as the most popular management system in B2B SaaS Companies.

Special Topics

Week

Special Topic

Frequency

1

Renewals Focus - Customer Success team, and Finance (AR)

Quarterly

2

Month 1 Forecast - Everyone provides their number

Monthly

3

Marketing Update - Overview of Performance and Upcoming Events and Campaigns

Monthly

4

Month 1 Close Focus - New Business Sales Team

Monthly

5

Analyze Funnel Health (shape, speed, friction)

Quarterly

6

Month 2 Forecast - Everyone provides their number

Monthly

7

Marketing Update - Overview of Performance and Upcoming Events and Campaigns

Monthly

8

Month 2 Close Focus - New Business Sales Team

Monthly

9

Review Funnel Stage Probabilities and Weight Factors - Include CFO

Quarterly

10

Quarter Forecast - Everyone provides their number

Monthly

11

Marketing Update - Overview of Performance and Upcoming Events and Campaigns

Monthly

12

Quarter Close Focus - New Business Sales Team and Renewals

Monthly

13

Plan next quarter sales targets (OKRs)

Quarterly

Sales Meeting Attendees

  • Sales Team Members - Account Executives, Business Development Representatives (BDR) Lead, Sales Engineers
  • Customer Success Team - Account Managers, On-boarding Team Leader, Implementation Team Leader
  • Marketing Team - CMO, Sales Development Representative (SDR) Team Leader
  • Senior Leadership (CEO, CTO, CFO)

 

In addition to your sales team members (Account Executives and Account Management, or “Customer Success Managers), I like inviting the members of the company leadership team. Having the CEO attend should be welcomed. The joined accountability that this drives vastly outweighs the extra scrutiny of the sales machine. In addition, sales meetings are not meant to comfortable remember? 

At regular intervals consider inviting marketing and the finance team based on the special topics listed earlier.

If you have Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) or Business Development Representatives (BDRs) in your team, you can consider inviting them. If they don’t manage ongoing, qualified opportunities though, I prefer to have them following up on leads, and maybe just join monthly.

Beat the Drum

The Sales Team Meeting is the Heartbeat of a fast growing SaaS Company. I consider it the most important meeting. Don't skip any week. Coach your team to make it a great meeting. Give it your personal best as a Revenue Growth Leader.

Doing this well can make or break your Growth Ambitions.

Postscript - Preparation Question Example

1. What genuine progress has been made since our last review?

  • Merchants Bank Indiana – met to discuss project timelines and approach, plus dependency on CRM and received verbal intent to proceed with the project.
  • Whiterock Insurance Services – project decision delayed. Board requires competing quotes as part of due diligence. We will assist in obtaining these. Board meeting on 7/02/2017 to review.
  • Young Founders Institute – meeting on 29/01/2017 to discuss proposed project timelines and implementation approach
  • Priority Travel Institute  SIGNED @$58k initial order value and $42k ARR going forward
  • Society for Bioscience:  Sent approved changes to Subscription Agreement and changed to 2 Year Prepaid commitment. $180k initial deal value now
  • Molby Manufacturing said they will NOT be able to proceed.  Decision maker has changed and we will have to develop this as a brand new lead from the start.
  • Regional Center for Mental Health demo went well and Proposal presented. They said it will likely be a May decision.

2. What new leads have entered your pipeline since our last review?

  • Young Founders Institute. Partner lead, great fit. Demo’d and presented proposal.
  • GD Associates. Lead from Webinar last week. 2 demos scheduled for tomorrow and Thursday
 
3. Which opportunity in your pipeline is most likely to close and why?

 

  • Merchants Bank Indiana - 80%
  • Young Founders Institute - 80%


4. Who can help you close this deal or increase the probability of a win?

Need help obtaining a Quote for Whiterock Insurance Services given complex SLA needs.

Stijn Hendrikse

After 15 years of experience in the Software Marketing Industry, Stijn adopted the SaaS model to launch Kalungi, a SaaS Chief Marketing Officer blog where he shares best practices. This supports his work as a CMO Consultant with Chief Outsiders.

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