Quick! Print out a list of all of your accounts. Do it right now.
Did you print it? Probably not. After all, you know your list. You know your clients too, and besides, how could I say or ask anything that would be relevant to your specific list?
The reality is that after all my years in sales and as a sales coach, I don’t need to see your list to know that there is untapped information and potential there. It might be that no one ever showed you how to mine your list. Or, it might be a case of having forgotten how a few simple questions can keep you inspired to reach another level. Either way, there’s a tremendous amount of value in analyzing your list.
As you know, I’m a firm believer in the application of Pareto’s 80/20 principle. That means that if you have a list of 80 clients, 16 of them are in the 20%, providing you with 80% of your revenue. The other 64 clients aren’t.
With your top accounts, what do they have in common with each other? Is it their industry, location, or the way the company is structured? Are they all within a specific aspect of the industry that you have more expertise in? Why do you think they do business with you rather than your competitors?
When it comes to mining your top 16, think about the way their business is built and how they structured themselves. Then brainstorm/research for other businesses, companies, and organizations that mirror their setup. This will provide you with a list of more potential top 20% performers.
Make sure your top accounts really are profitable. There are times when the revenue they provide looks good until you dive into how much time, effort and work it’s costing you to consider them as one of your top 20%.
Don’t forget about your other 64 clients. Take a long look at each one of them to determine their long-term prognosis as being a good match for you and your list. Are there any with the potential of moving up and into your top 20%? If there are, consider how much time it would take to get them there. Are you willing to make the effort? If you aren’t, it doesn’t mean you should get rid of them as a client. It just means you can block the time you spend on their account off your calendar well into the future.
With the lower performing clients, maybe it’s time to consider another alternative for them—like inside sales. Could you hand them over to a new sales rep in your company? Obviously you can keep them, but you will be blocking off your valuable time to work on their accounts well into the future too. On the other hand, if you come up with a way to professionally and ethically let them go, you’ll have more time to pursue new accounts.
There’s always a balance to be struck in sales. We want to believe that our client list is structured with the necessary combination of clients who will help us reach both our sales and monetary goals. But business is always on the move—always changing.
When was the last time you went through your client list to make sure everyone on it is still performing in a way that supports their goals as well as yours?
Alan Luoma: I am a Sales Coach with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, new
product development, sales and product training. I work part time with a great national sustainable packaging company and their exceptional distributors to increase sales. My success has been and is in utilizing the Pareto 80/20 principal in business and life. I have become an expert in seeking out and eliminating behaviors that prevent business people from being successful. I am a member of The National Speakers Association and New England Speakers Association. You can view my profile on LinkedIn, or contact me at Luoma@snet.net