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Sales funnel stopped up?

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If you’re experiencing sales funnel problems, run a quick diagnostic to see where the problems lie and how to go about fixing them. Let’s look at the three parts of the sales funnel to get a better idea where the problems can occur.

Top of the funnel. Top-of-the-funnel problems are easy to identify. If you look at the value of your pipeline and notice that the number doesn’t change from week to week, you might as well be staring down the barrel of a gun.

If you test these opportunities by walking through whatever method you use to qualify prospects only to find that they have failed your test, you are looking at a very bleak future. (By the way, the most important qualifying test is whether or not your prospect will agree to explore making a change.)

Middle of the funnel. If the middle of your funnel is empty, you actually have a top-of-the-funnel problem. Either you aren’t qualifying real opportunities or you aren’t gaining the right commitments.

Most middle-of-the-funnel problems show up as stalled opportunities. If you skip any of the stages of the sales process, you can wind up with stalled deals. Almost always what is skipped over is a difficult-to-gain commitment, one that, had it been gained, would have moved the opportunity forward.

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Deals can also die mid-funnel if you try to forgo the necessary consensus-building. That’s one way to run a good opportunity right into a ditch. Without consensus, the status quo always wins out.

Bottom of the funnel. Deals can get stuck here when you lack consensus, haven’t created enough value, haven’t effectively addressed risk or have failed to outline and gain agreement on next steps. In addition, new stakeholders (such as purchasing and legal) entering the process can cause an opportunity to stall here.

Without a compelling reason to change, deals get stuck at the bottom. Unresolved fears can keep your dream clients from moving forward. A lot of salespeople worry about engaging with additional stakeholders, but the sooner you deal with that reality, the sooner you can move your deal forward (and the sooner your client will reap the benefits of your solution).

Take a close look at your sales funnel. It will reveal the area of your sales game that needs the most improvement.

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S. Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go