Sales Management: Pipeline “Red Flags” that Sales Managers Must Assess With their Reps

A VP of Sales must operationalize a process for all the Sales Managers to conduct assessments of the Opps in the Pipeline during an Opp Review meeting and check for “Red Flags”.  Otherwise you get a lot of “UFOs” (i.e. “Unlikely & Failing Opportunities”) that you just don’t want or must help the sales reps manage more effectively.

  • Last activity on an Opp is > “X” days
    • Sales is about activity and reaching out to the prospect
    • This is the “­Do your job” motto for a sales rep – an effective salesperson must check their pipeline regularly and have an action plan for contact with the prospective customer
    • I recommend that X should be an equivalent of 10 days for a mid-market deal with an average sales cycle of 30-60 days
    • And for larger and more complex enterprise deals, X will be set as 30-45 days when the sales cycle is 6-9 months
  • Any Opps stuck in Pipeline for 60+ or 90+ Days? (i.e. 2x or 3x a typical mid-market cycle)
    • For complex enterprise sales it would be longer
  • Close Date
    • Length – close date is too far away
    • Push count – the deal close date is being pushed multiple times
    • 50% into the quarter or month and too many vacillations in the close date
  • Deal Size
    • Deal Size > 2x of the $ASP for this category or segment
  • Sales Cycle
    • The deal is stuck in the pipeline and the Sales Cycle is now > 1x of the average cycle for the category or segment
    • Remember that “time kills all deals”
    • Stage Duration – deal is stuck in any given stage for too long
  • Are most Opps in early stages?
    • ­If yes then they may not close in the current cycle
  • AE pattern
    • AE is not following the internal sales process
    • Not getting clearly defined next steps (DNS) on Opps
    • No inspectable/factual IQs confirmed by email (IQ = agreed upon Implications of not solving the problem & Quantified ROI of the soluiton)
    • Zero quota retired at mid-point of the quarter
  • Also, it’s important to look at the Prospective Buyer’s pattern
    • no micro-commitments
    • not responsive
    • disengaged


What else?  What are some other issues or red flags that you look for in a deal or pipeline?