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This excerpt is part of the "9 Disciplines to Create Sales Breakthroughs in Turbulent Times" guide by Walter Rogers, CEO of CloudCoaching International.

“It isn’t the things I know that cause my problems; it is the things I think I know that just ain’t so.”
                                               -Will Rogers - Famous 20th Century American comedian 

We all know what it is like to be blindsided by trusted assumptions that turned out to be wrong, and no place is this truer than sales pipeline management. This is one place where no one – not the Sales Maker and especially not the Sales Manager – can afford to make assumptions about what is going on with the pipeline. That is why it is so important for Sales Managers to conduct regular – at least monthly – Pipeline Update Meetings with their sales teams.

Most Sales Managers rely on two key tools to monitor Sales Maker productivity: pipeline and forecasting. However, highly effective Sales Managers understand that there is a difference between the two. Forecasting is focused on later stage deals – the ones that are far enough along that you can begin to get a feel for the likelihood of success in the current quarter. However, forecasting does little to help with future quarters.

Technically, pipeline refers to every opportunity a Sales Maker might be working on – including the ones that are far enough along to  be at the forecast stage – but there are many other opportunities in the pipeline that are not that far along yet. We can designate these deals as being part of the “forward” pipeline, because they are focused on the future development of sales that ultimately impacts later forecasts, and Pipeline Update Meetings are the most effective and efficient ways to have a solid understanding of what is really going on.

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