It is incredibly important to regularly look at all of your accounts and determine which are likely to grow and which are not. That sounds like a simple thing to do, but most sales professionals do not take the time to analyze their accounts and divide them into these categories.

Certain accounts will not grow every year, and sometimes should be treated as maintenance accounts. These might be some of your largest accounts and market leaders, but if you see that it will be tough for them to grow in a particular year, then you need to look at them more as maintenance accounts.

You still need to spend time with these customers to make sure that you retain their business, but you have to also realize that the growth you need will not come from this group. However, if you are not taking care of these customers, you can lose sales, and that could negate any growth you may have developed in other areas.

You will also have a group of customers — hopefully a small group — that might not equal last year’s sales volume, or that are having financial problems, and you can expect to lose some sales out of these customers. You need to estimate the amount of deterioration that will take place in these accounts.

The exciting accounts are the ones that are primed for growth and that you think have the potential to produce large amounts of additional sales. You must be analytical in your approach, determining how much time is to be spent with each of your customers so that you can build sales.

But, if you lose some of your foundational customers because you were so busy spending time with new customers that had the potential for growth, you’ll be building a house made out of sand. The tricky part is realizing where all of your time is being spent and making sure that you focus your efforts where they are really needed and on what will bear you the most fruit.

You need to decide what products will benefit your customers, but also what products will produce the highest margins for you. The key is to analyze your product offerings and know what your accounts could use to increase their sales, which, of course, in turn increases your own sales.

I try to step back and really go through my account base a minimum of once a week. I write out a small spreadsheet and track my time to make sure I am spending enough time with my top-producing accounts, whether they will grow this year or not. It is important to always realize where your bread is being buttered.

I also strategize about what needs to be done to grow my accounts with growth potential. I will bring vendors to my customers to help provide training, for example. A good vendor rep will help you provide value to your customers and help them understand market trends. That’s also a great way to introduce new products that will bring both you and your customer new revenue.

You should look for ways to get closer to your key accounts, and you should track such activities. The more you track, the more that gets done. You just need to have an analytical approach and constantly dissect your account base, moving accounts into different categories based upon their potential and what is transpiring within each company.

I am conscious of where I am spending my time. It is very easy to spend time with a customer whom you consider to be a friend, and while that might be enjoyable, it will not produce the sales growth needed. You need to be mindful where your time is being spent.

I make sure that my time is divided among the accounts that will bring me the most revenue, and I try not to get too tied into one customer who can eat up my time and prevent me from focusing my energies on where they are most needed. Everyone has a customer or two who takes up a tremendous amount of time but doesn’t produce the sales to warrant the attention. You must minimize these time-suckers so that you can follow through with your plans.

It can be difficult to pull away from some customers, but if you analyze your customer base weekly to determine where your time needs to be spent it will become easier to take such actions. Your focus and goals will drive you to make changes. You need to spend time every week using your analytical skills to dissect your accounts, products, and where you’re spending your time. If you do this consistently, it will drive everything that you do, because you want to stay true to your master plan, which you constantly review and revise weekly.

That’s why it is so important to constantly analyze and look at your account base. If you have an analytical mind and can break down your accounts and study where growth will come from and what you must maintain, you will have a high level of success.

Good luck, and happy selling!