We’ve spoken about Funnel Logic and the way we manage work-in-progress using a sales funnel. One of the critical things in this process is keeping your funnel clean, as there’s nothing worse than a clogged funnel.

A clogged funnel contains expired opportunities. These ‘dead’ opportunities cause problems by giving you a false sales forecast, obscuring how much work you need to devote to each stage. This is especially hazardous when it causes you to neglect topping up your funnel with new opportunities.

We suggest you purge prospects that have spent too long at a particular stage. Of course the question is, how long is too long? We’re not able to answer this for you. There will be some metrics typical of your business worth knowing, and if you look critically at your sales funnel you will know which prospects are stuck – and have actually leaked.

Two things to avoid when cleaning your funnel

1. Don’t send hate mail to those clients that got stuck in your funnel.

Things happen in a client’s world and problems get de-prioritised. This is okay. Remember, you need to recycle. Those that came close to doing business with you, especially those that didn’t buy from a competitor either, are great potential prospects for the future.

2. Don’t simply orphan the client. In other words, don’t just cease contact.

Instead, be more explicit about the fact that you’re removing them from your sales funnel. For example: “Clearly the time isn’t right for you to be doing business with us. We would really like to stay in touch, but maybe it would be better if we left you alone and let you call us when you’re in a better position to progress the conversation.”

Leaking with intent

We call this tactic ‘leaking with intent’. The good news is that in our experience, some of those intentionally leaked will actually reactivate themselves. They’ll come back and say something like, “Sorry for the delay, we are serious about it and in fact – let’s get talking about it again. When suits you?”

Our view is that a sales funnel is a much more useful model than a sales pipeline. A sales funnel helps you plan actions based on where the opportunity sits in the funnel. The problem with the sales pipeline is that it’s the same all the way along. So if you’re using the pipeline, we suggest you throw it out and get some funnel thinking in place.

Eddie Smith is the Founder of Sales Schematics Australia, and an accredited align.me Funnel Coach. To read more of his insights, go to the SSA Technical – Sales Insights blog.