The sales process is often referred to as a sales funnel. Why? Because you start with lots of connections and conversations with the hope that a select few will come out the other end of the funnel as customers.

The mistake many business owners make is seeing this as one continuous process. They assume that activity anywhere in the funnel will be equally valuable. But if you concentrate your activity on the wrong place in the funnel, you’ll burn time and resources without delivering results. How can you find where you should be spending your time? Start by identifying clogs in the sales process.


Low Pipeline? Do you have enough leads? Without a steady flow of leads, it’s hard for a business to grow and expand. Ask yourself, if you sat down to call every serious lead in your funnel, would you be done before lunch?

If so, you’re lacking in leads. Consider carving out a significant amount of time to expand your sphere of contacts. Join a networking organization, develop a presence on social platforms and focus on strategies to increase traffic to your website–and conversions.

Failing at Follow Up? Do you have a large, shallow network? Lots of business cards in your drawer, but few quality meetings? Hundreds or even thousands of followers on social media, but no real conversations? Then your time would be better spent following up with the people you have already met than finding more prospects. Start going through your contacts, reach out with a brief email or phone call.

Work on this part of your pipeline should also include development of a contact management system so you can track prospects as they move through your sales funnel.

Can’t Get in the Door? Does your sales process stall after the initial  conversation? Converting a warm lead to a prospect starts with good questions that help you qualify prospects and uncover pain points. It also helps if you have a clear understanding of your competitors, what they offer and why you are truly a better choice.

Prospects Won’t Commit? What percentage of the time do you walk away with a sale? Do you seem to get stuck in an endless loop of objections and requests for more information? Are your prospects unwilling or unready to move? If this is where your sales process bogs down, it may be a clue that you need some sales training (see Sandler TrustPointe) or stronger sales materials.

If your sales are getting derailed at the point of closing, consider beefing up your references and testimonials.  

As the year kicks off, where will you focus your attention? Start by dividing your sales funnel and focusing on the weakest part.