When sales people encounter bottlenecks in their selling process it is not only frustrating for them but also prevents the organization for generating more sales revenue.


Over the last decade of coaching and training sales teams nationwide, I have noticed that most companies typical wrestling with two or three of the following bottlenecks:

  • Lots of cold calls, but few actual conversations had
  • Lots of introductory conversations, but few sales appointments set
  • Lots of sales appointments, but few proposals created
  • Lots of proposals created, but few sales closed
  • Lots of closed sales, but few clients who stay loyal


Which of these five bottlenecks do you see your sales team running into most frequently?


While these sales bottlenecks cost companies millions in lost sales revenue each year, one frustration that sales managers and business owners encounter is identifying where the sales bottleneck is in their process.  They look at end of the sales process and notice that new sales revenue is flowing slowly or not growing as quickly as they would like.  They look up and down the sales process and struggle to determine where the clog is.

Sales plungers unclog sales bottlenecks

Sales plungers unclog sales bottlenecks


Another concern sales managers and business owners encounter is identifying and agreeing upon what approach to use to fix the bottleneck.  They ask, “What program, what tactic or what strategy will be the best “plunger” to unclog our sales process so sales revenue can start flowing again?”


There are multiple reasons why bottlenecks develop in a sales process and there are no quick fixes.  However, in my experience I have seen one common problem contribute to many sales bottlenecks.  Likewise, I have also seen one common “plunger” used to help fix those clogs and bottlenecks and allow sales revenue to being flowing freely once again.


Which sales plunger have you been using?


The one common problem that I see contributing to many sales process bottlenecks is undeveloped buyer needs.  Call them “pain points” or “core buying motivators”.  When buyers needs are undeveloped and remain “passive”, they do not produce enough urgency to motivation the buyer to action (return a call, set an appointment, purchase, refer a friend, etc).  Buyers have two different kinds of buying needs.  I call them “passive needs” and “active needs”.


Passive needs are ultimately a buyer’s concern or displeasure with a problem, issue or challenge.  But that is all they are:  a concern.  If left undeveloped this concern is typically insufficient to motivate them to take action, make a change or buying something to fix the problem.  That is why I call it a “passive need”.  Active needs are mature buyer commitments to act.  They are not just concerned about a problem they have an urgent desire to change what they are doing or fix the problem immediately.  That is why I call them “active needs”.

How can you develop passive needs into active needs?

How can you develop passive needs into active needs?


What are the common passive needs your buyers share with you?


Developing passive buyer needs into active buyer needs requires a sales person to have well refined questioning and listening skills.  Planning and preparing quality questions ahead of time is the hallmark of successful sales people.  Unfortunately, very few do it.  When sales people have a well choreographed series of questions to ask buyers, they help buyers develop their passive needs into active needs.  The buyer’s comments change as their needs change.  As their passive buying needs mature into active buying needs, they make comments like the following:

  • “No, we are pretty happy with what we are using.”
  • “We can always use some improvement in ________________”.
  • “Well, it really has been a problem for us for some time now.”
  • “Can your company help us make some change there?”


Do you wait to propose a solution until your buyer’s are active?  Or do you jump in too quickly with a solution when their needs are still passive?


The story is told of a tourist visiting New York City years ago.  Wanting to get some help with directions, the tourist stops a local street performer who was playing jazz music on his  saxophone.  The tourists ask, “Excuse me Sir. Can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?”  The performer smiled and said, “Practice, baby. Lots of practice.”


Selling skills are developed through lots of practice, feedback and coaching.  Unfortunately, well meaning sales managers and busy sales people do not take nearly enough time on a weekly basis for training, practice, feedback and coaching.  Skill development is a proactive activity that can be difficult to do in reactive sales environment.


When is the last time you and your team role played a selling scenario and provided feedback and suggestions on what to improve?


Many clients of ours have commented how wonderful it is to have an outside accountability partner that helps them do the things they know they should, but simply don’t take the time to do them.  They have told us that outside feedback, coaching, training and accountability has allowed them to:

  • Correctly identify where the bottlenecks are in their sales processes.
  • Focus on the right strategy to unclog their sales bottlenecks.
  • Implement a sales coaching program that has enhanced the selling skills of each sales person.
  • Maintain momentum and growth in their sales revenue and selling efforts.


Is it time for an objective look at your selling processes?  Could you use some help to identify where the potential sales bottlenecks are?  Are you ready to start having your sales revenue flow more smoothly and grow at a fast pace?  It may be time to give us a call and schedule a complementary coaching call and training session with your team.  There is no obligation or cost for the initial strategy call and group sales training session.  We would love to help you identify where the bottlenecks are and the right strategies that will help unclog those bottlenecks.


Our contact information is below.  We look forward to chatting with you.



Terry L. Hansen is a popular speaker, consultant, trainer, and author on helping sales and customer service teams improve their ability to create value for their prospects and clients. He is regularly asked to train organizations on strategies to find more prospects, close more sales, and increase customer loyalty. For more information about working with Terry L. Hansen please visit TerryHansen.net or connect with Terry on Twitter (@TerryLHansen) or on LinkedIn (Linkedin.com/in/TerryLHansen). To contact Terry please email hansenterry@gmail.com or by calling 844-205-5054.