June 15, 2024

We’ve been talking a lot about pain in our recent blogs, which naturally leads us to talk about Sandler’s pain funnel. But, first I would like to tell you a quick story:

It is 5:30 in the afternoon on a beautiful summer day. Mom hears five-year-old Jimmy running across the back porch. She opens the screen door and roars into the house. She jumps into the kitchen where mom is busy making dinner. Before she can ask Jimmy if she had fun playing outside, he says, “Hey, Mommy, can I have an ice cream cone?”

His mom replies, “You can have ice cream after dinner.” The next afternoon, her mom hears Jimmy running up the stairs. She storms into the kitchen again and asks the same question: “Can I have an ice cream cone?” Her mom says, “Jimmy, after dinner, you can have one.”

On the third day, Jimmy comes running just the same. He looks at his mom and says, “Mommy, can I…”? As soon as these words are out of his mouth, he sees that look on his face. He already knows what her response will be. So he says, “What time is dinner?” “In about 25 minutes,” she says. Jimmy says, “Okay,” and walks back outside.

So you ask, “what’s the point of the story?” People are taught at a very young age not to throw away all their cards, or not to spill the beans. Because? Because you usually don’t win if you reveal your hand too early in the game. In our story, Jimmy was driving her mom crazy with the same question every day at dinner time, until he realized that she was at boiling point and was going to get mad. Jimmy didn’t want to face the pain of making her mom mad, so he changed her question to one that would make mom happy. He avoided pain, just like most prospects want to do when he visits.

Most people are raised to avoid revealing their true agenda in potentially difficult situations. Knowing this, we addressed this issue in the Sandler sales process, using the patented Sandler Pain Funnel, a powerful tool used to uncover a prospect’s true agenda, or “pain.”


The Pain Funnel is a strategically arranged set of questions designed to uncover a potential customer’s pain. On the other hand, it could also help you discover that the prospect is not in any pain. Either way, this is good for you. Because? Allows you to qualify or disqualify the lead as a true lead. If they are in pain, then you can guide them to resolve or eliminate their pain. If not, you can shake hands and share as friends.

Before proceeding with the use of the Pain Funnel, please note that the funnel works very well on its own, but it works best when combined with other techniques we use in the Sandler sales process, especially the Sandler Pain-O-Meter and investment tools. So stay tuned for future blogs on these topics.

Again, the Pain Funnel is a series of questions that a knowledgeable salesperson uses during the Pain Step, whether in a face-to-face sales call or over the phone. It includes eight pain questions designed to sequentially move the prospect closer to sharing their true agenda or pain.

Here are the 8 questions in order:

1. “Tell me more about that…”

2. “Can you be more specific? Give me an example.”

3. “How long has it been a problem?”

4. “What have you tried to do about it?”

5. “And that worked?”

6. “How much do you think it cost you?”

7. “How do you feel about that?”

8. “Have you stopped trying to solve the problem?”

You saw earlier in Jimmy’s story, how people prefer not to show their hand up front. Many people fear the consequences of unbridled honesty and showing their true colors. Therefore, Pain Funnel assumes that the prospect’s agenda will remain hidden and helps him bring the truth to the surface. However, you must be subtle and methodical in your approach when using the Pain Funnel. If you push yourself too hard too fast, chances are you’ll encounter some resistance. The prospect may feel threatened or vulnerable and quickly avoid telling you the truth. So stick to the tried and true questions in the funnel along with the other techniques you learn in The Sandler System and you’re sure to put your prospect at ease and guide them through discussing their real problems and pain.

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