Depending on the client’s situation, one of the top five actions we take is to perform an A, B, C analysis of their customer base. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, essentially the client generates a list of all their customers showing total combined revenues and margin over a recent 3- or 5-year period. This exercise can be valuable for many reasons that impact sales, marketing, and operations. After this report is created, the next step is to perform a lifetime value analysis.

First, let’s explore the ABC Analysis.  In looking at the report you will generally see the following trend.

*  15% of clients make up 65% of sales = A

*  20% of clients make up 20% of sales = B

*  65% of clients make up 15% of sales = C

NOTE: 35% of your clients make up 85% of your business.

Secondly, the percentages may not be precise, but what you are looking for is where to draw the lines where you can see a separation; once you have these lines drawn we recommend you schedule a meeting with the sales team and management team to discuss what you have found. You want to analyze the various segments and look for common demographics of the A’s, B’s and C’s. Examples might be:

*   What are the total revenues?

*   How many employees?

*   What vertical markets?

*   Number of locations?

*   Types of Services/Products they purchased

What you are specifically looking for are the common traits of the A’s and B’s. Then those kinds of prospects with similar demographics become your only targets for marketing and for sales prospecting. If you purchase databases, those demographics become your criteria. In your CRM system, call frequency patterns are set to connect with all the A’s , B’s, six times a year. Your focus becomes to capture more A’s and B’s, not C’s.

The reason you focus on the A’s and B’s is, for whatever reason, they are in need of your services, agree to your value proposition and most likely are your best clients.

Third, you look at your C customers and perform a Lifetime Value Calculation. This formula is actually good for all clients, but focus on the C’s first. This analysis is run for the past three or five years, showing the total cost to acquire a client, cost to support the client over those 3-5 years, and the real profit generated by the client. In many cases, we have found that many companies are over-supporting a large number of their customers and many C clients are also the slow-pay, unhappy customers that cause the most pain.

Take an analytical approach to understanding your customer base: it will drive better messaging, increase order rates and improve your profitability. It's an excellent formula to get started on 2015!

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, his consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout the world. His book Leading High Performance Sales Teams is a best-seller, and his fifth book, “JAMMED! for New Sales Managers" was published this summer. Ken provides keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.