Brad Feld

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Sales Tools – Keep Them Simple (e.g. A Heat Map)

Dec 07, 2004

I was sitting in a meeting yesterday with one of our companies and saw a very compelling sales presentation. The company has developed good sales momentum in a specific vertical market (life sciences) and the CEO has focused the sales organization (6 direct sales people) on this market.

Rather than show leads by sales person with contrived forecast numbers and ratios, the CEO showed a heat map of the top 40 target customers (in two separate charts – top 20, second 20). For each company, he sorted by number of potential seats, listed the sales person that owns the account, and the geographic location of the company.

The interesting data was the heat map. All existing customers were colored blue. There were three columns for each company for each division that we sell into (there are three distinct ways that we can get to a customer.) Each cell was then colored either green for active, yellow for not active, and red for “the company told us to go away.” Fortunately, there we no reds yet.

In 30 seconds, I got a better view of the current sales activity for this company than I do for most of my companies. I saw which of the top 20 prospects were actually customers and how much we had penetrated the additional prospects. In addition, this heat map provided a clear framework for a detailed pipeline review. It also gave me real confidence that the CEO was following through on his assertion that they wanted to own this vertical market.

It was a simple tool – reminding me that all the reports in the world aren’t a good substitute for a CEO who knows his target market and thinks about it constantly.