You Need To Know How To Diagnose A Revenue Gap

In his book, “When Breath Becomes Air” neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi discusses an informal diagnostic practice he developed with a fellow surgeon in the stress of the trauma room. They would use the size of a state’s population to summarize the severity of a head injury. For example, one patient may be a “Wyoming” and another a “California.” This was their way of managing the stress of the trauma bay while diagnosing the severity of a situation in a way that they could both quickly understand.

Diagnosing revenue and sales issues may not have the severity of a trauma room, but misdiagnosing the reason for a revenue gap can cause sales leaders to put valuable resources in place to solve the wrong problems. In the spirit of trying to address critical revenue gap issues, many executives move to action before fully diagnosing the cause.

So, what does a good revenue gap diagnostic look like? It must address if and how the organization is collaboratively using cross-functional resources to drive revenue, which is often called sales enablement. Achieving revenue goals can no longer be left to the sales department. Instead, companies must use all available resources to enable the attainment of sales revenue.

To diagnose the cause of revenue gaps, leaders should honestly assess funnel health first. Some questions to consider include:

Sales Funnel

  • How healthy is our sales funnel? Is it balanced? What about from a rolling 6-quarters view?
  • Where are the biggest gaps in funnel health?
    • Is the problem a prospecting/business development issue?
    • Is it an issue with closing business?
    • Is it a lack of accuracy as to funnel stages and associated funnel actions?
    • Are too many opportunities stuck?
    • Are the opportunities poor quality, or from accounts that are not a good fit?


  • Given the current funnel health, and the future growth goals, do we have the right people, in the right role, doing the right things?

Customer Journey

  • Where are problems occurring in the customer buying journey?
    • Is it a marketing problem?
    • Is it a sales problem?
    • Is it a support or service problem?
    • Is it a product quality problem?
    • Is it a compliance or accounting problem?

Diagnosing revenue issues requires that leaders develop a common framework and a common language to discuss cross-functional issues that may be contributing to a revenue gap. The risk is too high to commit valuable, and often scarce, resources to solve revenue and performance issues that haven’t been fully vetted. With a proper diagnosis, leaders can work on filling existing revenue gaps and proactively preventing future ones.