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What is a Deal Review?
A deal review is a structured meeting, typically between a sales representative and their manager or sales leadership, where they closely examine specific sales deals in the representative’s pipeline. The primary focus of a deal review is to assess the viability and strategy for closing these deals.
There are three types of deal reviews: executive, team, and one-on-one manager deal reviews.
- In an executive deal review, company execs and sales leaders come together to review the most critical deals in the pipeline. They come up with an action plan for leveraging their network and connections to strengthen them.
- In a team deal review, the entire sales team gets together to discuss a particular deal or deal strategy. Top sales reps also use this time to mentor newer members of the team.
- In a 1:1 manager deal review, sales reps have the opportunity to review all their deals with a sales leader. In one-on-ones, they have time to ensure smaller or less “important” deals don’t fall through the cracks (and that reps get hands-on coaching).
Deal reviews are different from quarterly business reviews (QBRs), which are more focused on the overall performance and personal development of the sales rep over a quarter. They’re transactional and focused on action plans for the future, while sales QBRs are retrospective and concentrated on broader goals.
- Deal review meeting
- Sales deal review
Importance of Deal Reviews in Sales
When done properly, deal reviews are a crucial tool for sales execution. They change the game entirely by facilitating a culture of continuous improvement and communication between leadership, the sales team, and individual reps. They also help the sales team maintain focus on what’s important, hold themselves accountable, and identify potential risks before it’s too late.
Companies that hold bi-weekly executive and team deal reviews and weekly 1:1 manager deal reviews with each of their reps generally enjoy the following benefits:
- Higher win rate and average deal size
- Greater quota attainment
- Higher sales team engagement
- Better sales forecasting accuracy
- Sales process optimization
- Communication and alignment between sales, leadership, and cross-functional teams
Deal reviews are the time salespeople can connect with their managers, get feedback on their deals, and improve their performance through mentorship and coaching. They are the best way to move away from reactive selling and towards a proactive approach.
Steps in the Deal Review Process
In a deal review, a sales rep presents one or more deals they are currently working on to their manager or leadership team, and the group reviews it together.
Effective deal reviews typically follows these steps:
1. Set an agenda for the meeting.
Lack of preparation is the #1 thing holding you back from a productive deal review. Plan ahead and set a structure ahead of time. That way, you can cover critical information efficiently.
Have your sales team members present the following info during the meeting:
- Company overview — What the company is, what it sells, pain points, and business goals. This doesn’t need to be super long, just enough to get a good idea of strategic opportunities, stakeholders in the decision-making process, and the potential deal size.
- Why should the prospect buy? — Presenting the top reasons this prospect should sign the deal gives company leaders context. It helps them understand the rep’s thought process on which problems you can solve.
- Deal strategy — Your rep may or may not have a plan of action for the deal. For the first stage, simply go over what they think they should do next (or were planning to do), and see if there are any recommendations or adjustments.
This is information the sales rep will come to the meeting prepared with. That way, everyone on the team will have a basic understanding of what they’ll be discussing.
2. Assess the opportunity pipeline.
Depending on the type of deal review, the team will look at a specific deal or deals in general. If it’s a one-on-one deal, the manager will assess most or all deals in the rep’s pipeline. If it’s an executive or team review, there won’t be time — instead, they’ll look at the one with the highest value, the closest one to closing, or a combination of both.
- Who is the prospect?
- Who are the key decision-makers?
- What is the proposed solution for them?
- What stage is the deal currently in?
- Is there potential to move it forward?
- How much is it expected to be worth?
- What might the next steps be?
This is where leadership sits down with the salesperson, listens to what they have to say, and organizes it into a meaningful structure.
3. Determine next steps based on deal stage.
Depending on where in the sales pipeline your deal is, the trajectory of your deal review will be completely different. For example, an earlier-stage deal where a rep hasn’t delivered a demo just yet might focus on what they can do to get a demo scheduled (e.g., by sending out an email follow-up).
In different stages, the team member will have to engage different members of the company’s buying committee. So, in this step, it’s also important to look at who they’ve already engaged, who they haven’t, and who else they should try to reach out to.
If your sales team uses a sales framework like MEDDIC (which identifies key decision-makers, obstacles, and timelines), you’re already halfway there.
4. Look closer at everything going on in the deal.
Your rep’s day-to-day activities pertaining to the deal are what will make or break it. Now that you know where to focus on and have the backstory, you’ll need to look into what exactly your reps are doing.
- Call history
- Meetings booked
- Notes in CRM
- Emails sent
- Presentations delivered
- Quotes sent
Evaluate (a) the seller’s communication skills and (b) the customer’s level of responsiveness and engagement.
By looking at buyer-seller activity, you’ll have an easier time evaluating the sales rep’s performance and understanding why they’re doing what they’re doing. You’ll also have an idea of whether you can expect the deal to move forward.
5. Map out future touchpoints.
Either as a part of your sales deal review template or as a separate activity, you’ll want to map out future touchpoints with different members of the prospect’s decision-making team. B2B sales generally have ~6 decision-makers.
- Technical buyers
- Economic buyers
To create a plan of action, you have to plot how you’ll communicate with each of them. So, start with an organizational chart of the company, where each buyer sits in the hierarchy, and what their specific needs and motivations are. Then, figure out who you need to talk to at this point in time to maximize the chances of the deal closing.
This is where a sales methodology like MEDDIC really comes in handy — if you have this structure built into your sales motion, your rep will have already identified key decision-makers and their needs during qualification.
6. Devise a mutual action plan (for late-stage deals).
A mutual action plan — sometimes abbreviated to MAP or referred to as a mutual close plan — is a simple document designed to move the deal across the finish line. The buyer and seller share it, and it contains the following:
- Milestones in the sales process
- Due dates for action items
- Tasks for both the buyer and seller to complete
- Status updates
- Stakeholders involved in each item
Essentially, it’s an organized view of what needs to happen from now until closing, and who plays a role in making each step a reality.
In late-stage deals, this can be crucial to keep the momentum going and ensure all parties are on the same page. It accelerates the sales cycle by reducing friction and aligning the buyer and the seller on success criteria and deadlines.
If the deal you’re looking at involves sales demos or proposals, this should be a part of the deal review.
7. Evaluate your sales process.
How does the deal you’re evaluating fit into your sales process? Talk with your sales rep about how the sales cycle is going and what bottlenecks or blockers they’ve encountered. This conversation can help you identify areas of improvement in your sales process and show whether reps need additional resources or a different approach to close the deal.
8. Follow-up and documentation
After you’ve mapped out future touchpoints, decided on a plan of action, and are ready to carry out the next steps you’ve agreed upon, you’re ready to tie the meeting up. Before they leave, schedule the next check-in and ask if there’s anything they need help with in the meantime.
Once the meeting is over, make sure to document everything you’ve discussed — new action items, milestones reached, and plans for the next meeting. Keeping a record of each deal review can also help identify patterns or common issues that arise during the sales process.
Technology and Tools in Deal Reviews
CRM software is the central database for everything related to your customers and sales pipeline. Every time a prospect moves from one stage to the next or a rep takes a new sales action, CRM takes a timestamped recording of it. It may also score leads and estimate the value of a deal for you.
When you hold your deal review, you’ll pull up your CRM and look at all the relevant actions and data for a given deal. You might also be able to see custom fields like free form text that you can use to log notes during the review or view saved email templates that can be used at specific stages of the sales process.
Sales Enablement Platforms
Sales enablement is quite a broad software category — there are lots of different tools it comprises.
- Configure, price, quote (CPQ)
- Sales intelligence tools like Gong or Chorus
- Digital sales room software
- Content management systems
- Content personalization and analytics
- AI-powered chatbots and notetaking apps
- Call recording tools
A few of these will play a role in your deal review process. For example, you’ll open CPQ if your rep sent a quote to the prospect since you’ve last chatted. Or, you might use call recording software to get more context from actual rep-prospect calls.
Pipeline Management Software
CRM normally has pipeline management built into it, but you might also use a different tool like marketing automation or a sales automation platform to help track your deals. While CRM is the centralized hub for all of your data, the pipeline management module helps you visually manage and automate actions throughout each stage of the sale.
Sales Analytics and Reporting Tools
Sales analytics tools like Salesforce Analytics or visualization tools like Tableau and Power BI help you take sales data from your reps’ activity, CRM, and pipeline management software and transform it into actionable insights.
Here are a few types of data you might want to review during a deal review, depending on what you have access to and the priorities of your sales organization:
- Sales activities by rep or team
- Deals closed by rep or team
- Time spent at each stage of the sales cycle
- Sales velocity
- Win and loss rates
It’s also a good idea to look at your reps’ performance against their quota and key performance indicators (KPIs), like the number of demos or proposals sent out or the amount of revenue generated. Although this won’t help you evaluate one deal specifically, it will give you a bigger picture of how you’re doing as a team and identify any trends or issues you should address.
Best Practices in Deal Reviews
There’s more to a productive deal review than going down a checklist or deal review template and clicking off the items you’ve covered. To get the most out of it, you have to use that time to dive into your sales rep’s mindset, uncover what they’re thinking and feeling about the deal, and work together to identify risks and opportunities going forward.
Here are our 7 best practices for holding deal reviews:
Hold deal reviews on a regular schedule.
This is how you foster a culture of collaboration and transparency. For 1:1 reviews, it’s best to hold them once per week, so the deal’s fresh in your and your rep’s head. For team and executive reviews, once every 2-4 weeks is acceptable, though you should still hold these on a set schedule.
Take a structured approach to every review.
For efficiency, assign consistent criteria you can use to evaluate each deal in your rep’s pipeline. Set clear objectives for each review, and know what you’re going to tackle in each session.
Don’t turn a deal review into a coaching session or performance review.
While you should definitely collaborate on next steps and give your two cents on what your rep could improve on, that isn’t the focal point of a review like this. Instead, give constructive, forward-looking feedback that helps them close the deal they’re working. If you notice patterns of negative behavior or outcomes, you can address them at the next QBR or in a separate one-on-one.
Stop asking reps to self-analyze their deals.
Although it’s important for them to think for themselves in terms of what to do next (they won’t always have you there), don’t ask them questions about how they feel the deal is going. They’re optimists by nature (or, at the very least, by requirement).
As a sales manager, it’s a lot more productive for them to provide the data and basic information, then let you assess the probability of a deal making it to Closed Won.
Move on after hearing “I don’t know.”
If your rep doesn’t have an answer to one of your questions (e.g., “What’s the prospect’s real budget for this deal?”), don’t spend time dwelling on it. Move on to something they can talk about, like another deal in the pipeline. The things they don’t know are action items for next week — they can come back with an answer.
Focus on customer value from the get-go.
Rather than trying to close the deal at all costs, the point of sales is to provide value to the customer. So, that’s the goal of your deal review, too. That’s why you need to dive into customer pain points and why your rep says they’re a good fit for the product.
If you don’t think the deal is valuable to the customer or you think they’re positioning the product wrong, voice that opinion. That’s how you keep them (and the deal) on track.
Identify red flags and risks for every deal.
Every deal has potential threats. While you’re reviewing the data and input your sales rep has prepared, you’ll probably be able to find potential ones. You may also know a thing or two from experience.
As red flags come up, ask your rep about their solution for addressing them or if they have already. Focus part of the review on potential threats (e.g., non-responsiveness for a week, an organizational change, or a lesser-known competitor that serves their niche) that could result in the deal not coming to fruition.
Key Takeaways on Deal Reviews
Really, deal reviews are all about supporting your sales team by helping them uncover and resolve potential issues that could put a deal at risk. As the leader, you’re also there to help them identify opportunities they may have missed.
Here are the most important takeaways to implement in your next deal review:
- Use pipeline management software
- Leverage sales analytics tools
- Hold regular reviews on a set weekly/bi-weekly schedule
- Avoid turning it into a training or coaching session
- Encourage your reps to focus on customer value
- Focus on efficiency and constructive, value-added feedback
In the future, software will play a bigger role in how companies around the world manage their deal review process. Lead scoring tools in CRM, for example, will be a crucial asset for identifying which leads are worth pursuing, and which ideas you should skip on. You can go over these with your team members during a review and decide together, based on context, the best course of action.
By encouraging transparency and collaboration, focusing on customer value, and implementing best practices in your deal reviews, you can help ensure that your sales team is successful in closing deals.
People Also Ask
What is the goal of a deal review in sales?
In sales, deal reviews serve a critical purpose: to keep sales reps on track and help them approach each deal strategically. For sellers, this means higher quota attainment and a more efficient sales process. For managers, it means better employee engagement and productivity, as well as higher sales numbers.
Who should be included in a sales deal review?
A sales deal review should include the sales rep working on the deal, their manager, and potentially other members of the sales team who can provide valuable insights or perspectives. Depending on the size and structure of your organization, you may also want to involve executives or cross-functional team members in certain reviews.