There is a reason that the 20% is driving your revenue stream.  They are the customers you want!  They probably fit into your Ideal Customer Profile.  Chances are, your relationship with the 20% is a partnership and they are willing to work with you to ensure future decisions are mutually beneficial.   The 20% is typically comprised of financially sound companies that are growing and need your expertise to be successful.


How can you align your sales force to ensure the 20% feel special


  1. Segment your customer base
  2. Provide additional resources
  3. Quid Pro Quo:  We give you resources and you give us X in return
  4. Focus your future product/service strategy on the 20%
  5. Offload non-selling activities




Segment your customer base:

Sales Reps can act like camels.  They go where the water is when thirsty.  It doesn’t matter if it is a puddle, a lake, or a mirage; they just want to quench their thirst and then go looking for water again.  For this reason, you want to ensure your top sales resources are focused on this 20% and are not burdened with the lower 80% of customers.  Undoubtedly, the 80% will request more than 20% of an Account Manager’s time.


Provide additional Resources:

Align your company with 20%.  Your Account Managers should be the face of the organization, but you should also ensure alignment at all levels.  Executives in your organization should establish relationships with Executives within the 20%.  Accounts Receivable should be aligned with Accounts Payable, and so on.


Quid Pro Quo:

You don’t just provide additional resources for fun.  In doing so, your customer should agree to provide something in return.  Examples could be: Inclusion in future growth opportunities, renewing existing business agreements, testimonials/referrals, etc.


Focus your future product/service strategy on the top 20%:

If these are the customers you want to keep and type of prospects you want to attract you need to have a strategy to capture and retain this market segment.  Ask the 20% what they are looking for in the future.  How can you better align strategies with the 20%?   


Offload non-selling activities:

Allow your best resources to focus on the top 20% by alleviating the burden of non-selling activities.  Have lower cost resources deal with paperwork, admin, and day-to-day customer service issues.  Optimally, you want top sales resources to focus at least 75% of their time on key selling activities.  Gerhard Gschwandtner’s blog “How Much Time Do Your Salespeople Spend Selling” provides some great statistics on selling time.


In summation, align your top resources with your top customers. Sounds simple, but I challenge you to really look deep into your sales structure and ask yourself if this is the case in your organization.  How much time do your top sales resources spend dealing with small/low potential customers? What about non-selling tasks that don’t produce returns?  Reduce the noise and keep the sales organization focused on your Ideal Customer Profile.  The results will follow.


Scott Gruher

Orchestrates and designs the perfect project strategy, one engagement at a time, to ensure that every SBI client makes their number.

Scott joined SBI in 2010 with years of hands-on experience in sales leadership and enterprise selling. Since his arrival, he has helped dozens of organizations dramatically accelerate growth, from Fortune 10 organizations like Phillips 66 to fast-growing cloud service organizations like InfusionSoft. Scott specializes in cross-functional alignment. He helps leaders align around the growth goal and design the right processes to bring the strategy to life. His unique combination of real world experience and a pragmatic approach to problem solving have made him one of SBI’s most demanded resources.

Read full bio >