Using heat mapping technology to zero in on business growth opportunities

By Mike Procopio
Blue Cow Software

Speaking with a difficult customer after resolving his latest complaint, a business owner said, “I wish I had 100 customers like you!”  The surprised customer responded, “But I complain constantly, make unreasonable demands, and pay my bills late. Why would you want 100 customers like me?”  Replied the business owner, “Because right now I have 200 customers like you!”

Nobody wants more difficult customers. Instead, every business owner has a picture of the “ideal customer” in mind. For a fuel oil or propane dealer it might be a homeowner who always pays their bill on time, is on automatic delivery, uses your company for both fuel delivery and service, is always willing to pay attention when you recommend they replace or upgrade their equipment, and understands that 3 a.m. is not the best time to make a routine service call. Oh, and it helps if the customer is already on one of your established delivery routes.

If only you could find more customers who fit this profile! The good news is that you can use technology that allows you to profile your “best customers” and use that information to seek out others just like them. You can use the technology to “drill down” on your list of existing customers to uncover opportunities for cross-selling products and services, or to identify customer locations that are at the point of needing to replace equipment.

For example, you might create a profile based on where a customer’s home is located. In many towns entire neighborhoods were built at around the same time. Nearby homes are likely to be of similar age, with heating equipment also “aging out” of their service life. Which makes those home ideal targets for marketing replacement equipment.

Or you may choose to identify customers who purchased an air conditioning system from your company. Next, look for other customers with similar profiles but no A/C. This becomes a target list for selling cooling equipment ahead of the summer months.

Visualize Your Market

By using analytics software linked with your customer database, profiling customers can be done with a few mouse clicks. Once a control group is created, you can then use your management software to identify customers with similar profiles, based on criteria you choose. The result will be a new “target” list of potential customers for cross-selling of products and services.

Your sales team can work right off the list. But it can be very helpful to be able to visualize the physical location of customers who fit your “ideal” description. That’s where heat mapping comes in.

A heat map is a graphical representation of data points. By laying a heat map over a map of your market area you will quickly be able to see the geographic relationship between existing “best” customers and those you are targeting for new sales. You’ll know where target customers are physically located. This allows you to concentrate your efforts more efficiently, assign sales territories, and identify clusters of customers with similar profiles.

It is no secret that the best potential for new sales lies within your existing customer base. Using analytical tools and heat mapping, you can easily pinpoint which customers are the most promising candidates for generating additional revenues.