What’s the “pickaxe factor” in your sales funnel?

I’m renovating my kitchen. I have a company come in and do the cabinets, the countertops, and the floors, but I do the plumbing myself.

The reason? I’m a half-decent plumber (usually — there was one time when that wasn’t the case, but that’s another story) and I don’t mind the work of plumbing. Since I can solve most plumbing problems in less time than it would take for a plumber to even get to my house, I just do it myself. But cabinets and countertops and floors? That’s another issue. I don’t have the skills and tools or time. Therefore, I pay someone else to do it.


I call this the “pickaxe factor”. To me, a pickaxe represents work. Hard work. Nearly impossible work that builds up a sweat, breaks your back, and makes you wish that you could just sit on the couch and pay someone else to do the job while you drink something cold and watch American Idol. For me, plumbing has a very low pickaxe factor. I’m happy to knock out a plumbing job in a short time. On the other hand, kitchen cabinets have a high pickaxe factor (for me) so I pay someone else to do it.

There are lots of problems/challenges/needs that have a high “pickaxe factor” because they are difficult to solve/overcome/fulfill. For example, some people may find it hard to…

  • Start a business when they’ve worked for someone else all their life
  • Meet a potential romantic partner
  • Get to work in nasty weather
  • Look good
  • Do your taxes

These are just a few examples of problems, challenges, and needs that people find hard… they have a high “pickaxe factor”.

Now here’s the exciting part for any business owner: The higher the pickaxe factor, the more value people place on a product or service that solves the problem, overcomes the challenge or fulfills the need. That’s why people pay for the following products or services to help them with the high pickaxe factor the challenges I listed earlier…

  • Business consulting services to get help starting a business
  • Online match-making services to meet a potential romantic partner
  • A vehicle to get from home to work in comfort and style
  • Personal trainers, dieticians, and plastic surgery
  • An accountant


Your products or services help people to solve a problem, overcome a challenge, or fulfill a need. If you want to sell even more products or services, or if you want to charge more money for your products or services, you have to do one thing: Identify and exploit a higher pickaxe factor in your sales funnel. In other words, you need to demonstrate to your sales funnel contacts how the hard task they’re facing can be made easier by you. And, the harder the task seems to them, the easier and faster you’ll sell your products and the more money you can charge for them.


If you are just starting a business and looking for a great product or service (or a point of differentiation on a product or service), then figure out what your target market finds difficult, hard, impossible, or unfathomable, and sell a solution to that.

If you are in business and looking to grow, take a look at that problems your products or services solve and how high the pickaxe factor is. Then, take a look at the marketing messages in your sales funnel and identify whether you are making full use of the pickaxe factor by highlighting the challenges of hard work and explaining how your product or service eliminates the pickaxe factor completely.

Schedule time to return to the pickaxe factor in your sales funnel every 3-6 months. Develop your products or services further to solve even higher-pickaxe-factor problems, and hone your marketing and sales language to keep up with the challenges that your target market faces.

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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