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4 Solutions to Removing Sales Funnel Bottlenecks
4 Solutions to Removing Sales Funnel Bottlenecks

by: Stephanie Lanik

Strategic Marketing Coordinator
Most sales funnel problems fall into two categories — leaks and clogs (or also known as bottlenecks). Both can prevent prospective customers from reaching the decision point to become real customers. Indicating that somewhere between creation and close your pool of customers are either shrinking—or staying stagnant.
In a recent post, we talked about how to identify and repair leaks in your sales funnel (from top to bottom). Today we are going to discuss how bottlenecks (or clogs) in your sales funnel can affect your bottom line.
What exactly is a bottleneck?
Unlike a leak, where the leads drop completely out of your funnel… a bottleneck (aka clog or back-up) is an unusual amount of leads that get stuck in your funnel and for whatever reason won’t move on to the next step in your sales process.
For example, consider an hourglass. The narrow center is a bottleneck. It does not matter how much sand (leads) is poured into the top, the rate of conversion to qualified leads (sand landing at the bottom) will be the same. The only way to increase output is to somehow widen the bottleneck.
Bottlenecks in any part of a business can cause significant problems. They are a sign of inefficiency—they block your business operations from properly flowing. Delays, inconsistencies, and oversights can veer potential customers off the path to purchase. As a result, you’re not only losing a high percentage of sales opportunities, but your marketing and sales organization wastes valuable time and resources—leading to increased costs and decreased revenue.

As you can see, these clogs can be extremely detrimental to your bottom line and should be dealt with promptly once identified.

Identifying the Source of the Clog
When you notice that sales prospects aren’t moving along quite as they should, your first responsibility should be to locate the bottleneck itself. But, before you grab the plunger and set things right, ask yourself the following questions:
  • What is it that is slowing the process down and stopping us from increasing sales?
  • Are your salespeople wasting valuable time and energy on prospects that aren’t qualified?
  • Do you have a high number of leads but unable to convert them into customers?
  • Is your business failing to follow up with potential customers?
  • Are you having success nurturing your leads to MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) status but not setting appointments with the key decision-makers?
  • Are prospects making it almost all of the way to the end and then inexplicably dragging their feet?
Although sometimes the process of finding and eliminating sales funnel bottlenecks is ongoing, knowing which ones are likely to occur and immediately focusing all your problem-solving to that area will boost your ability to keep your company’s workflow moving seamlessly.

Here are a couple of solutions to help unclog your sales funnel and improve lead flow:

4 Solutions to Sales Funnel Bottlenecks and Improving Lead Flow

Focus on Quality Over Quantity

By far the most common bottleneck that clogs up the sales funnel is an overabundance of non-sales opportunities at the top of your funnel. Putting too many cold leads in your funnel at the same time can overflow. This can happen after a trade show or networking event, where you simply have too many leads (ice-cold ones in particular) to follow up with. As a result, you’re not only losing potential sales but your marketing and sales teams waste valuable time and resources.
Having more leads doesn’t always mean good, which is why you need to switch your focus from quantity to quality. Focusing on quality increases sales by attracting the “right people” into your funnel. These “right people” are your ideal clients, the ones who are most likely to convert. In order to increase each lead’s velocity through the sales process—and make room for more opportunities—it’s vital that you keep them organized, prioritized, and nurtured.

Leads who are a good fit for your product or service will result in fewer bottlenecks in your pipeline. This brings us to our next blockage, dealing with stagnant leads.

streamline your business with

Nudge or Remove Inactive Leads

Leads become less and less likely to convert the longer they’re inactive. Take the time to review each stage of your funnel—from top to bottom. You’ll probably come across a few leads that have stayed at the same stage, without any progression, for quite some time. If that’s the case, follow up with each one, even if it seems excessive. This will help separate the good opportunities from the bad so your funnel can go back to effectively flowing again.
To avoid potential stalled or stagnant leads from occurring, focus on the leads that are a good match for your company. Your sales reps should only be spending their time pursuing the right prospects. One way to achieve this is by using a lead scoring process. By scoring your leads, you can determine the level of interest different prospects have in your brand and the content you’re sharing. This means that you can identify your most promising leads and target them directly, encouraging them to convert.

Lead Scoring: Why it’s Important in Your Engagement Strategy

In order to implement an efficient lead scoring strategy for marketing and sales teams, you need to understand what exactly is lead scoring? Why it’s so important for engagement strategies? And how to get things rolling…

Take Down Unnecessary Obstacles

Sometimes, for your funnel to flow freely, it’s a matter of identifying obstacles that might be slowing things down or causing customers to stop moving forward through their buyer’s journey.

For instance, maybe you have unnecessary steps like forcing customers to sign up for things they aren’t ready for prior to purchase. The more steps and handoffs involved in guiding leads through the marketing and sales funnel, the more likely some leads will be lost in the shuffle.

It’s vital to ensure your leads are moving seamlessly downwards within the funnel, not horizontally. If it is taking too long to convert leads into sales, then the funnel and the processes built into it needs to be carefully evaluated to eliminate any unnecessary steps. However, don’t just remove steps for the sake of simplification. This could result in incomplete or missing steps that may end in a loss of leads. ONLY target the steps that add NO value or require additional actions.

Don’t Forget the Post-Sales Process

Another, yet often ignored bottleneck that occurs is when it’s time to follow up after a completed sale. It’s important that you focus on your existing customers. In fact, data from Forbes shows that 90% of the customer value for B2B businesses is actually obtained after the initial sale. Don’t leave this on the table for others to grab.
In order to thrive in today’s competitive environment, not only do you need to incorporate cross-sell and upsell into your “post-sales” marketing strategy, but it also needs to be personalized and relevant to obtain the full benefits of your hard-won customers.
Keep Your Sales Funnel Flowing Smoothly
Bottlenecks are common. Leads turn cold and temporarily go backward instead of forward—it’s the natural evolution of sales and marketing. Our advice to you is, “don’t panic!” Many bottlenecks in the sales process are easy to flush out once you determine root causes.

If you continue to properly qualify, score, and nurture these leads, this backward movement they started will become a small speed bump on their way to the bottom, where they’ll end up as a paying customer.

In need of a sales plumber?
At Techtonic Sales, we help businesses like yours keep up with leads… from the moment they show interest… to the time they’re closed. Whether they bought, or not. Our team will engage, qualify and nurture your leads—maximizing the value of every lead you obtained.
We simply bridge the gap between your marketing and sales team—making sure no leads are lost, dropped, or tossed.

Are you ready to start having your sales revenue flow more smoothly and grow at a fast pace? If the answer is YES, please contact us at (612) 455-7100 or email us at info@techtonicsales.com

Written by: Stephanie Lanik
– Strategic Marketing Coordinator at Techtonic Sales –
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