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You can find sales problems by looking into your funnel (or pipeline, if you prefer).

Top of the Funnel
Top of the funnel problems are easy to identify. If you look at the value of your pipeline and the number doesn’t change from week to week, you are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun.

If you test these opportunities by walking through whatever method you use to qualify only to find they fail your tests, you are looking at a very bleak future. By the way, the most important test as to whether an opportunity is qualified or not is whether your dream client agrees to explore change and makes the commitment to change.

Middle of the Funnel
If the middle of the funnel is empty, you really have a top of the funnel problem. You aren’t qualifying real opportunities, or you aren’t gaining the right commitments.

Mostly middle of the funnel problems show up as stalled opportunities. If you skip 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 if it had been gained would have moved the opportunity forward.

Deals also die in the middle of the funnel when 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 wins.

Bottom of the Funnel Problems
Deals get stuck here when you are missing consensus, when you haven’t created enough value, when you haven’t effectively addressed risk, when new stakeholders (like purchasing and legal) enter the process, and when you fail to outline and gain agreement on what steps will be taken next.

Without a compelling reason to change, deals get stuck at the bottom. Without resolving your dream client’s fears, the risk can keep them from moving forward. A lot of salespeople worry about asking to engage with purchasing or legal, but the sooner you deal with that reality, the sooner you move your deal forward (and the sooner your client gets the benefit of your solution).

Your sales funnel reveals the areas of your sales game that you need to improve.

Questions
What does your funnel look like? Draw it.
What does the shape reveal about how you sell?
What problems are common amongst the clustered deals in your pipeline?
What needs to change to get things moving?

About the Author
Anthony Iannarino is the President and Chief Sales officer for SOLUTIONS Staffing, a best-in-class regional staffing service based in Columbus, Ohio. He is also the Managing Director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company where he works to help salespeople and sales organizations improve and reach their full potential.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.

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