I ask all our clients for a report on sales by customer for the last 2 or sometimes 3 years; but even a single year (as the example below shows) provides great insights. And, with multiple years you also get trends.
Next, I do something that is incredibly simple but provides huge insights. I load the data into a spread-sheet, sort by revenue (largest to smallest) then create a bar chart from the result.
So knowing absolutely nothing about the company you can see that 7 companies are the most important clients from a revenue point of view and the remaining 36 are relatively very tiny. Of those, you can ask if it is worth serving them or can they be grown? You can see that the 3 large clients are driving the largest part of the revenue; are they solid?
So What? Sales data can be complex, usually interpreted out of context and it often hides the real value. Using this simple bar chart approach can shine light on vulnerabilities and opportunities. For example based on the above chart I would do a case-by-case review of the ‘tiny 36’ and see which ones have potential, which ones are costing money and could be turned around and which ones should be fired. I would create a rigorous account management plan for the top 3 complete with leading indicators to know if they were going sideways. I look for other needs to address in the smaller accounts to increase the revenues.
Try This: Take your sales data for the last few years and create a bar chart. I guarantee you that you’ll learn something new and applicable about your customer base. If you’d like some additional insights based on my experience with hundreds of companies – send me an e-mail and let's discuss.