Customer Success, Marketing, Revenue Teams, Sales | July 6, 2024

Create Strategic Alignment with a Pipeline Council

Read time: 7 minutes

Written by:

  • Mallory Lee
    SVP of Revenue Operations Strategy

Exec Summary

  • A pipeline council is dedicated to solving systemic pipeline issues
  • It consists of leadership from every GTM team
  • They don’t just review numbers
  • They take action to solve issues
  • Copy our Suggested Attendee and Agenda Sample
  • RevOps must present data at every meeting
  • Download our Data Checklist
  • Read on for pipeline council setup and keys to success

 

Listen to the full podcast episode on running a pipeline council here.

 

When it comes to making more revenue, more efficiently, tightening up your pipeline is the best place to start.

Basic pipeline reviews, sales meetings, and marketing meetings don’t cut it.

While valuable for individual coaching, these reviews lack the cross-functional collaboration necessary to problem-solve systemic pipeline issues.

The result? Deals get stuck, opportunities languish, and revenue targets become distant mirages.

Enter the pipeline council: Your company’s own “knights of the round table” that works collaboratively to dissect the pipeline, identify roadblocks, and craft >We’re not going to pull any punches

  • We’re not going to gloss over any problems we see
  • We’re going to be real with each other and figure these things out

These are not meetings to pat each other on the back. It’s a dedicated time for senior leadership to dig into deep issues and create real solutions.

What is a Pipeline Council?

A pipeline council is just one part of a larger overarching strategy for maintaining a predictable, accurate pipeline. But it’s a part that few companies do – or do well. It’s not a replacement for forecasting, deal coaching, or pipeline reviews. Rather, it’s an extra sort of committee.

This committee is made up of GTM leaders from sales, marketing, customer success, and RevOps. During weekly or bi-weekly meetings, the group discusses topics that help them understand, forecast, and grow the pipeline.

Pipeline councils aren’t just about reviewing numbers; they’re about taking action.

Keep in mind that not all companies need to implement a pipeline council right away. Businesses with various departments and a more complex go-to-market process benefit the most from this dedicated cross-functional session.

How to Set Up a Pipeline Council

Step 1) Get Executive Alignment

In my experience, the RevOps team has been the one to lead the charge on creating a pipeline council. However, anyone who is passionate and data-driven can organize this committee.

First you’ll want to get the executive team on board by laying out:

  • Why we’re doing this
  • How it’s going to help us

Without giving leadership clear reasons for the benefits of having a pipeline council, approval for such a meeting might be hard to get.

Some of these reasons might include:

  • Problem solving a pipeline shortage
  • Diagnosing weaknesses and leaks in the pipeline
  • Increasing feedback between sales and marketing
  • Getting people on the same page about GTM strategy
Step 2) Decide on Attendees

The key to an effective pipeline council is broad representation. I like to keep these councils as small as I can while making sure to include all of the voices important to the entire go-to-market motion.

Your attendees should include RevOps leadership, sales leadership, marketing leadership, as well as representation from customer success, partnerships, product, and any other team within your GTM motion.

Step 3) Hold the First Meeting

The first meeting is used to set the tone, lay down ground rules, and explain the purpose of this council. You’ll want to get everyone on the same page with how the meetings will be run.

As the typical leader of these meetings, your RevOps representative will likely be the one bringing the agenda and the data to facilitate the conversations among all of these teams.

From there, you’ll be diving into this data talking through issues, vulnerabilities, and solutions.

The goal is to end the meeting with a list of action items and/or projects that can be started.

Step 4) Meetings Going Forward

In the beginning, if there are a lot of issues to cover, you might want to hold pipeline council meetings on a weekly basis. The CRO may want to be present for these meetings as well.

(It’s always a good sign that things are going well when the CRO doesn’t feel the need to attend pipeline council meetings anymore, or when meetings can be moved to bi-weekly!)

The meeting agenda should typically follow a structure like this:

  • RevOps shares the data that will be presented the day before
  • Meeting starts by reviewing the progress of last meeting’s action items
  • RevOps goes through their slides of data and their observations
  • Each attendee gives their updates and thoughts
  • Action items are discussed and prioritized

Since these meetings tend to be great live examples of the value strategic RevOps brings to an organization, proving the value of RevOps can become as easy as inviting an executive to sit in.

Key Topics for Your Pipeline Council

Even if your pipeline is stocked with tons of great deals, there’s a lot that needs to be discussed. Here are some topics your pipeline council should be addressing:

  • What is the makeup of our deals?
  • Is there anything in the pipeline of bad quality?
  • Are there any major deals that sales needs support on? (marketing, exec, etc)
  • Is the pipeline coverage even across teams and segments for quota attainment?
  • Where are we for next quarter? Are we generating enough demand to be on track?

Most of us need to discuss pipeline generation to fill a gap or ensure we have enough pipeline for the current quarter and the future. The investigation flow tends to look like this:

  • What is our New ARR forecast vs. goal?
  • How much has been closed so far?
  • Do we have enough pipeline to cover the gap?
  • If not, what are we doing about it?
  • How are marketing programs impacting the pipeline – and how do we need to shift?
  • How is sales productivity impacting the pipeline – and how do we need to shift?
  • Based on the sales cycle, how many days do we have left to impact this qtr’s pipeline?
  • If we’re out of time, how do we make the most of the deals we have?

The Keys to a Successful Pipeline Council

  1. RevOps brings the source of truth, the data. It is shared the day before and attendees must review it before the meeting
  2. Everyone has to show up. The meeting has to be a priority.
  3. Sales and marketing (and everyone else) have to be working toward the same goals. You might have to remind each other about that frequently.
  4. The leaders have to be vulnerable in sharing ideas and problems. People have to open up and admit where they need help. There’s no room for ego – it slows down progress.
  5. Every meeting has to be action-oriented. Keep action items and review them at the start and end of each call. The group will be FUN when people are executing and seeing an impact.
  6. Keep it dynamic. Regularly revisit the agenda to incorporate fresh data/insights and tackle strategic topics to ensure the council stays relevant and impactful (and not boring).
How do you know if your pipeline council is a success?

Look for results! A thriving council will see pipeline gaps closing, deals progressing smoothly, and most importantly, revenue targets being achieved. Everyone involved will have a clear understanding of the data and feel invested in the collective success of the revenue engine.

Pipeline Council Resources

  1. Listen to our recent RevOps Corner podcast episode on pipeline council
  2. Get an editable copy of our Suggested Attendees and Agenda Sample
  3. Download our interactive RevOps Data Checklist

When you’re ready, here’s how we can help:

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