Visualizing Changes in Your Top 20 Accounts

In 2013 I want to coach and guide my reps to focus on the top customers in their territories. I know I can create a list and discuss each account with them. What else could I do that might have a greater impact on how they interact with these very valuable customers throughout the year?

If the top 10 or 20 accounts in a salesperson's territory are below quota as a group, achieving their overall sales revenue goal becomes difficult if not impossible. These elite customers typically represent more revenue than all their other smaller accounts combined.

Helping your reps create game plans for these accounts will increase the chances of their meeting and exceeding their sales quotas for the year.

Steven Schottenfeld, a colleague and data analyst at TraceTech Solutions suggests this simple but effective exercise.

Create a list of the Top 10 or 20 customers in each rep's territory. Then follow his instructions below:

  1. Generate "List 1" - the Top 10 customer list for the year that precedes the last full fiscal year.
  2. Generate "List 2" - the Top 10 customer list for the last full fiscal year.
  3. Place them side-by-side, as shown in Table A.  
  4. Cross out any customer in List 1 that isn't in List 2.  These are former "great" customers who fell out of the Top 10 in the last fiscal year.
  5. Circle any customer in List 2 that isn't in List 1.  These are "fast-rising", high-value new customers.
  6. Draw a line from the remaining List 1 clients to the corresponding List 2 clients.  These customers are still in the top 10 but may have moved up or down in the ranking.
  7. The results for the example are shown in Table B. 

Table A

Table B

Now examine the two lists. Interesting, sobering, or surprising might include some of the words that come to mind. What changes a year brings!

A quick comparison shows, for instance, that Clark Construction dropped from number two to number eight with a loss of over $150,000 (-77%) while SBS moved from number ten to number three with an increase of almost $150,000 in revenue (+729%). Quality Construction remained stable at number four. Overall, the top 10 Accounts were off by 8% from 2010.

With this type of information the conversation moves from the general, "be sure and spend the majority of your time in the field with the Top 10 Accounts, especially Clark Construction. That account was disastrous last year" to the specific, "Let's look closely at Clark Construction -- order by order, product by product, month by month. After we have a better understanding of what happened, set up a meeting for the two of us to meet with the president. Following that meeting, we'll devise a strategic plan for the year and meet with her again."

Objective data allows you to give the rep specific guidance on a top account and help them increase their earnings.

Thanks so much Steve, for this great suggestion.