The Sandler Pain Funnel: What it is and how to use it

Get to a prospect’s pain

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The Sandler pain funnel is designed to identify the root cause of a customer’s pain and then offer a solution to that pain. With this funnel, you can create an effective sales pitch that speaks directly to your potential client’s needs and concerns. When the prospect realizes you understand them, they’ll trust you and be more likely to make a purchase.

Let’s dive deeper into the Sandler pain funnel in this article.

What is the Sandler Pain Funnel?

The Sandler pain funnel is a sales methodology that helps visualize the stages people go through when they’re experiencing pain. It provides a customer-centric approach to selling that gives the salesperson equal business stature with buyers.

The Sandler pain funnel guides us on how to gather information better. It’s a funnel because it starts wide with generic questions, so we can get a sense of the big picture. As we uncover more information, the questions get more specific, and the funnel becomes narrower.


How Does Sandler Pain Funnel Work?

To understand how the Sandler pain funnel work, it’s crucial to emphasize that the Sandler pain funnel combines the best of traditional sales and new-age thinking.

Here are three guiding principles behind the Sandler pain funnel:

  • Professional selling is a noble profession. Both salespeople and buyers should treat each other with dignity and respect.
  • To sell effectively, sales reps need to know prospects inside out, from their needs and financial situation to the decision-making process.
  • Helping people know the real reasons behind what they’ve been through and why you’re the solution.

When executed well, the Sandler pain funnel can be a win-win for everyone involved: you get sales, and your customers resolve their issues.

Who Should Use the Sandler Pain Funnel?

The Sandler pain funnel is suitable for businesses that want to improve their customer experience. It’s especially ideal for B2B companies and SaaS and software vendors.

Three Levels of Pain


The Sandler pain funnel is a framework for understanding and communicating the three major types of pain that exist in every business: technical, financial, and personal. The goal is to help you identify the level of pain your customers have been experiencing so you can tailor your solution accordingly.

  • Technical pain: What happens when your customers are frustrated with how difficult it’s to use a product or service? This level of pain usually stems from a lack of user experience design or poor product management.
  • Financial pain comes when your customers aren’t getting value for their money or feel they’re paying too much for what they get. This pain level usually involves pricing and cost-effectiveness, as well as competitive offerings in the market that may be more appealing to consumers than yours.
  • Personal interest refers to the emotional attachment that people have with a product or company—it’s about whether or not people feel like they belong somewhere, whether or not they think that this particular organization understands them and care about them.

Sandler Pain Funnel Questions

Below are some examples of Sandler pain funnel questions:

  • Would it make sense to start by telling me the single thing that gives you the most concern about [issue] right now?
  • When did you first decide that you should look into [issue]?
  • What do you think this issue has cost the business over, say, the last six months?
  • What surprises or upsets you most about this issue?
  • What’s more important: cost or speed? How about quality or speed?
  • What does your boss think about this situation?
  • How critical is it to fix this thing? And how would you rate its importance?

Pain Funnel Example

If you’re looking to build your own Sandler pain funnel, use the example below as an inspiration. As you get deeper into the funnel, the questions will get more specific, focusing on the personal impact the pain has on the prospect you’re speaking with.


Source: Sandler

How to Improve Sandler Pain Funnel

The Sandler pain funnel is a great way to ensure your sales team follows up with the right people at the right time. But they can be tricky to implement, which is why we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you make them work for you:

  • Ensure your salespeople know how to use the funnel. This is obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. If your salespeople don’t know how and when to use them, they might end up wasting time with people who aren’t interested in buying. And that’s not good for anyone.
  • Establish rapport. Use a friendly, conversational tone of voice and tell stories about yourself or ask about hobbies to make the buyer comfortable with you. This will signal to them that you’re different from the typical salesperson and that you’re not just trying to sell products to them.
  • Collect more data about your prospects’ pain. You can use Revenue Grids’ revenue intelligence platform to track their activities, record conversations, and identify high-converting leads. By collecting more data about the pain points that matter most for your business, you’ll be able to create a better Sandler Pain Funnel that will help you convert more prospects into customers.

What Happens After the Sandler Pain Funnel?

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve found someone with a problem or pain that you can solve. Now it’s time to make sure that they actually want to solve it—and want you to help them solve it. If not, that prospect might not be qualified.

Disqualifiers are the obstacles that prevent a buyer from moving forward with their decision-making process. They can be the cost of your product or service, time, and other resources. If the buyer’s business system can’t integrate with your solution, they might not be your potential prospect.

Also, research your buyer’s decision-making process. In other words, how will they decide whether or not to buy your product? Do they make decisions on their own? Or do they get support from anyone else? Once you know how, when, and where they decide, coming up with a proposed solution that they’ll accept should be relatively easy.

Start Using Sandler Pain Funnel to Sell More Effectively

With the Sandler pain funnel, you can determine what kind of pain your prospect is experiencing and how they want to resolve it. You’ll also help them understand how your product or service can solve their problem. And that’s the way you can establish a long-lasting relationship with prospects.

The more trust a prospect has in your business, the more likely they’ll proactively communicate with you and buy from you. No more wasting time on people who won’t buy. No more begging for appointments. Customers will come to you when you put them first.

If you’re looking for new ways to build stronger relationships with prospects and ultimately, close more deals, Revenue Grid revenue intelligence should be right up your alley.

Our platform uses AI to not only identify high-value deals and prospects who are likely to close, it actually listens in and understands the conversations your reps have with your prospects. That means you can pinpoint issues with struggling reps, and highlight exactly what your top performers do right.