493247623Do you find yourself generating tons of leads that never turn into sales opportunities? Have you recently noticed an unusual amount of leads stuck in one section of your sales funnel? Well, my friend-- it sounds like you may have a clog.

Sales funnel clogs can be identified by having an unusual amount of leads that get stuck in one part of your funnel and for whatever reason won’t move on to the next step in your sales process. These clogs can be extremely detrimental to your bottom line and should be dealt with promptly once identified. 

If you’ve seen any red flags that you might have a clog, this post is your plumber. I’ll share with you how to locate and identify the cause of the clog and give you 4 strategies for fixing them.

Identify The Source of Your Clog

There are multiple factors that could be causing your leads to get stuck - from family emergencies to spam filters to your nurturing process not being long enough or you simply could be missing the mark. Instead of jumping to conclusions, dig into your analytics and make decisions based on data rather than by pure assumption.

Firstly, which section of your funnel seems to have the clog?  Are you generating a lot of Information Qualified leads but very few are becoming Marketing Qualified Leads?  Are you having success nurturing your leads to Marketing Qualified Lead status but not getting any Free Demo registrations?  Wherever you find that bottleneck is where you should focus.

Secondly, what do the email metrics look like in that section of the funnel? 

Do you have a low delivery rate? Could be your emails are triggering spam filters.

Have a low open rate? Your subject lines need some tweaking.

Not getting that click-through-rate you expected?  Reevaluate your messaging.

Remember, de-clogging a sales funnel requires constant evaluation of key metrics and clear communication between the sales and marketing team. Without those two things, you’re bound to encounter issues along the way.

How to De-clog a Sales Funnel

1) Re-evaluate Your Marketing Content and Messages

Don’t expect leads to automatically progress from one stage to the next. They require constant engagement and information to propel them forward.  And chances are, you’re not sending the right messages to the right leads at the right time.

If you have a longer sales cycle you could also be under-nurturing your leads, consider adding more content to your nurturing sequence.  If you’re having these issues, you’re not alone, these are both very common mistakes that can be fixed.

Tip: Develop appropriate messages, offers, and corresponding call-to-actions for each stage of your sales process. Re-evaluate your messages to see if they’re in alignment with your sales cycle and funnel and make changes as needed.

2) Interview & Survey Your Clients

No one knows what your clients want better than they do. That’s why it’s so important to conduct interviews and surveys to better understand their pain points and needs. After a thorough interview with just a few clients, you start to develop a clearer picture of what stops leads from progressing to the next stage of your funnel.

Perhaps they’re sold on the need for your solution, but don’t yet fully trust your brand. Or maybe they haven’t seen enough proof that your brand is as good as you say. The only way to find the source of the clog is to find out your clients pain points and develop a solution.

Tip: Send stuck leads a survey through Survey Monkey or Google Surveys and ask them what type of content they’d like to see, what factors do they look at when making a purchase decision, and what obstacles keep them from buying.  These responses will inform your content development and lead nurturing process.

3) Use Form Fields Strategically

A great way to filter out potential funnel clogs is to use your forms as your first line of defense. While it’s true a higher number of form fields may create friction and potentially lower your conversion rate, adding more fields to collect data points that help you identify ideal customers will allow you to prequalify leads that will respond positively to your nurturing and help you prevent that pesky build up.

Tip: Open lines of communication between sales and marketing to pick which data points help identify your perfect customer and add those fields to your forms.  Create a scoring system based on responses.

4) Place Cold Leads on the Back-burner

What happens when so-called ‘qualified’ leads turn cold and unresponsive? The answer is simple, they begin to clog up the funnel because they’re no longer qualified for their present stage. Therefore, they belong on the back-burner, which we call a ‘quiet list.’ It’s basically a “time-out” for unqualified leads.

Tip: Set the cold ones to the side for a bit, then reintroduce them to an earlier stage of the funnel. Don’t delete them, because you may succeed in reengaging them once you’ve determined the reason they’ve gotten cold feet. Make note of the last time they engaged with your content and use that to inform your next move.

To make a long story short, there’s no way to avoid the occasional clog in your sales funnel. Leads turn cold and push back all the time. It’s the natural evolution of sales and marketing, but armed with these four strategies, you’re better positioned to keep your sales lines open and unfettered.

Have you experienced a clogged sales funnel?  How did you fix it?  We’d like to know, leave us a comment below, and don’t forget to share this post with your network if you enjoyed it.

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Originally published Jul 10, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated January 18 2023