Feeling frustrated when your pitch fails to make the prospect jump on your offer right away? I get it– it's like trying to convince your dog to take a bath. But don’t fret because I’ve got a secret weapon to help you connect with your leads on a deeper level: the Sandler Pain Funnel.

The Sandler Pain Funnel will help you identify your prospect's pain points and address them in a way that will make them feel you’re here to help them and not just to make a sale (though, ultimately, you are).

Not only will you make their day, but you'll also be highlighting how easily your solution can solve their problems.

So, let's dive into how you can become a sales superhero using the Sandler Pain Funnel and close more deals than you ever thought possible!

What’s the Sandler Pain Funnel?

To break it down simply, the Sandler Pain Funnel (created by David Sandler) is a consultative selling technique that helps sales professionals uncover their prospect's pain points and understand their needs on a deeper level.

You start by asking strategic, open-ended sales questions.

That way, you can identify your prospect's challenges and uncover their underlying emotions. (And when you understand how the problem makes them feel, you can agitate it and leverage it to explain how your product removes the woe.)

As we continue down the funnel, we can laser in on those true pain points by asking more targeted questions.

By the time you reach the bottom of it, you'll have a clear picture of their challenges and be able to offer a solution that meets their needs.

Why Should You Care About the Sandler Pain Funnel?

If you're in B2B sales, you know building and nurturing customer relationships are vital to winning more deals. But it’s impossible to do that if you’re focused on just landing a sale.

That's where the Sandler Pain Funnel comes in.

By using the Pain Funnel, you're not just selling a solution; you're helping your prospect find their true pain point and face it head-on.

This approach builds trust and rapport with your prospects; they feel heard and understood.

It makes dealing with high-level stakeholders more productive and helps us close those big deals. Instead of bombarding them with features and benefits, the Pain Funnel helps you get to the heart of their challenges and provide a tailored solution that meets their specific needs.

‌ ‌Source: Sandler Training & LinkedIn

Here’s How the Sandler Pain Funnel Works

Let's say you're working in sales, and your product is a SaaS solution for IT businesses. You have a prospect interested in your services, but they haven’t committed to anything yet.

YOU: "Can you tell me a bit about your current IT infrastructure?"

PROSPECT: "It's alright, but we're having some issues with our network security."

YOU: "That sounds frustrating. Can you tell me more about those security issues?"

PROSPECT:  "Well, we had a data breach a few months ago, and it was a real wake-up call. We don't have a lot of confidence in our current security measures, and we're worried about it happening again."

At this point, we’ve identified the prospect's pain point– they're concerned about the security of their network after dealing with a data breach. But now, we need to dig deeper to understand the root cause of their concerns.

YOU: "How did the data breach happen? Do you have any idea where the vulnerability was?"

PROSPECT: "We're not entirely sure, but we think it might have been through an employee's email account. We don't have great visibility into our email security, so we're worried it could happen again."

This is just a simple example.

Let’s go over the core stages and look at some full examples you can use as templates to make your own Pain Funnel:

The Core Stages of the Sandler Pain Funnel

There are 7 core stages that make up the Sandler Pain Funnel, which include:

1) Bonding and Rapport

The first stage is all about building a connection with your prospect through rapport. You don't want to come across as a sales robot– you want to show them that you're a human being who cares about their needs.

EXAMPLE: How has your day been so far?

2) Up-Front Contract

Before you dive into your pitch, it's important to establish some ground rules. Make sure that you and the prospect are on the same page about the conversation and desired outcomes before the real sales call starts.

EXAMPLE: Before we get started, can we agree on what we're hoping to accomplish today?

3) Pain

The pain stage is where we start digging into their pain points. You want to ask questions about their true challenges, frustrations, and motivations. This is where showing some empathy will shine.

EXAMPLE: I completely understand. Data migrations are so taxing. Can you tell me more about what, in particular, has been keeping you up at night?

4) Budget

Once you've sussed out the fundamental pain points, it's time to determine if they have the budget to address them. It might be a touchy subject but don’t be afraid to use a bit of humor to lighten the mood.

EXAMPLE: So, how much money do you have burning a hole in your pocket? / How much is your company allocating to resolving this issue?

5) Decision

At this stage, you want to understand where they are in their decision-making process. Are they ready to move forward, or do they need more information?

EXAMPLE: Do you like what you hear and are ready to move forward with this solution?

6) Fulfillment

Now it’s time to show that we have the perfect solution to help fix their problem (those pain points we found earlier). This is where demos are extremely powerful.

EXAMPLE: Do you believe our solution could resolve [PAIN POINT] long-term?

7) Post-Sell

Finally, we need to follow up with them after the sale. You want to make sure they're happy with their purchase and address any issues they might have. Depending on how well you did at the Bonding and Rapport stage, you can use your best jokes here.

EXAMPLE: Hey, you’re not regretting that decision, are you?

Sandler Pain Funnel Template

Of course, you know I’m not letting you out of here empty-handed.

Here’s a template that you can use as a basis to create your own Pain Funnel and start closing out some deals.

You’ll see the 7 core stages come into play as we work our way down the funnel through 3 phases: Building the Relationship, Sales Qualifying, and Closing the Sale.

Building the Relationship Questions:

  • How has your day been so far? Did you do anything fun over the weekend?
  • I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you [mention something interesting you found about the prospect]. Can you tell me more about that?
  • What made you decide to pursue a career in [prospect's industry]?

Sandler Sales Qualifying Questions:

  • Before we begin, can we agree on the purpose of our conversation today?
  • What business challenges or pain points have you been experiencing lately?
  • Can you tell me more about the problem you're looking to solve?
  • What kind of budget have you allocated for solving this problem or implementing a solution?
  • Are you looking for a cost-effective solution, or are you willing to invest more in a higher-end product/service?
  • What concerns do you have about implementing a solution?
  • Can you share with me what factors will be most important in your decision-making process?

Closing the Sale Questions:

  • How do you envision [product/service] helping your business?
  • Can I share some case studies or success stories with you?
  • Based on our conversation today, do you feel our solution would be a good fit for your business?
  • What would be the next steps if you decide to move forward with our solution?
  • How can I ensure that you are completely satisfied with our solution?
  • Is there anything else you need from me to ensure a smooth implementation?

Of course, you can adapt to meet your industry needs, but this is a good way of thinking about the Sandler Pain Funnel and getting it to a point where you can start using it now.

Sandler Pain Funnel Do’s and Don’ts


  • Do ask open-ended and high-value questions that'll make your prospect really think. For example, "If you could wave a magic wand and solve one company problem right now, what would it be?"
  • Do find common ground. You may have the same movie tastes.
  • Do be upfront about the budget and decision-making process. That way, you won't waste your time (or theirs) on a dead-end deal.
  • Do offer solutions that address the prospect's specific pain points. Don't try to sell them something they don't need.
Source: Sandler Training


  • Don't make assumptions.
  • Don't oversell your product/service before understanding their needs first.
  • Don't rush them through the sales process.
  • Don't be manipulative.
  • Don’t forget to follow up and keep in contact.

Final Thoughts

If you're looking for a way to take your sales plan to the next level, the Sandler Pain Funnel might be just what you need.

By focusing on building rapport, identifying the real issues, and offering a tailored solution, you can stand out from the competition and establish yourself as someone that gets things done.