Have you ever prioritized your customer or prospect lists?

Do you feel like your sales and marketing efforts are clearly and consistently directed at the most profitable business-business that you are most likely to close while maintaining adequate profit margins? If you aren't comfortable with your answers to the above, your company is probably in need of some basic segmentation work.

We have clients realize millions of dollars of incremental sales and savings by going through the process of customer and prospect segmentation. An initial step of segmenting your target prospects and top customer growth opportunities requires listing out what is important. For example, typical segmentation worksheets might include any combination of the following and much more:

  • Current or potential gross revenues from this customer or prospect

  • Current or potential gross profits

  • The estimated time it will take to sell this
  • prospect/customer this targeted amount of new revenue-the sales cycle

  • Percent likelihood that you will get the business

  • Likelihood of keeping the business over X years-retention

  • Spin off, referral or marquis value

After deciding what is important to measure, the next step is to create a scale in each area that can be easily estimated and is in appropriate balance of priority with the other areas. You don't want one area of measure to unduly outweigh another area of measure. For example, one new customer that has gross sales of $1 million with profit potential of $50,000 must have an appropriate measure/balance with another new customer that has gross sales of $500,000 and profitability of $100,000.

To kick off the simplest of segmentation exercises one approach is to build an Excel worksheet that lists some important areas for measure. For the purpose of this exercise, we'll use 1.) Revenue 2.) Profit and 3.) Percent Likelihood of getting the sale.

Make a list of prospects and put the appropriate columns next to each on the list. For the purpose of adding something as disparate as gross revenues and percent likelihood of winning the business, you must create a scale. So, in our example, we will use a 1 to 10 scale for each column with the following formulas:

  • 1 point for each $50,000 worth of gross revenue

  • 1 point for each $5,000 worth of profits

  • 1 point for every 10 percent in our estimate of percent likelihood of winning the business. So, if we have a 50/50 chance of winning this business it will get a 5, if it is a "done deal" because it's our brother, then it will get a 10

Make your estimates and fill in, then with a sort of the total value/priority column you prioritize the list.
Upon further analysis you may realize that gross revenues is not at all as high of a priority and thus you may experiment with lowering the 1-10 scale by only giving 1 point for every $100,000 worth of gross revenues. Play with the scales until you know that your prioritized list is pretty much "on target."

We recommend starting with segmenting existing customers because you'll have a history of real numbers, not just estimates, and you'll likely be able to find untapped sales potential as well. Then do a similar effort with prospects.