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Want Clients? Use ‘Little Data’ to Get Big Results

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Let’s say that “Big Data” uses “huge data sets, fast-moving analytics, complex and diverse data sources.” That’s how Bernard Marr characterizes the “Big Data” that we read about all the time.

But, Marr explains, “Little Data, what I call traditional performance metrics, are key to the success of any big-data project.” (See his Forbes contribution of June 23, 2016, entitled “Why ‘Big Data’ Means Nothing Without ‘Little Data.’”)

OK. That’s all well and good. We’ll let the high-brained mathematical geniuses who can conceive big data do their work. But what about you, Mr. or Ms. Financial Advisor?

You have a customer relationship management system (or CRM) of some sort. Perhaps you want to use that information to grow your business.

Are there some bits of Little Data sitting right in front of you that can give you some insights into shifts in your business activity and give you a bigger push toward a great fourth quarter?

What can we do with your Little Data?

In this article, I am going to show you how to combine some data in your CRM with data in your head. I will show you how to visualize it in an enormously powerful and free tool: Google Maps. (You will need to spend a little time learning how to use this tool; for a sample map and videos, see Bill Good Marketing.)

Business Source Analysis

One way to grow your business is to go get more of what you’ve got.

We can get fancy and call this “business source analysis.” But when you peek behind the curtain, you see that it is based on a common-sense principle: “Birds of a feather flock together.”

While the origin of this phrase goes back to the 1500s, its modern definition is: “People of the same sort or with the same tastes and interests will be found together.”

This principle is the foundation for my entire approach to list development.

In my first book, “Prospecting Your Way to Sales Success” (1986), I formulated it this way: “Your best prospect is someone who looks like someone who already buys your product or service. So, we’re looking for a list of people who resemble people who already buy your product or service.

“Obviously, I don’t mean resemble physically. I mean resemble demographically. (Demographics is the study of population characteristics such as gender, income, and occupation, especially as these characteristics may affect buying decisions.)”

Let’s do some more “Little Data” analysis.

Where Do Your Best Clients Live?

We will start by showing you how to see where your clients live.

You: Bill, this is ridiculous. I know where each of them lives.

Me: I have news for you. You may think you do, but there are pockets that you do not realize because you cannot visualize more than a few locations. If you have 400 clients, you would have to conceive of 80 locations. Sorry, friend. The human mind just does not work that way.

In this Little Data exercise, I’m going to suggest you export information on all your clients and your prospects and then import it into a Google Map. Let me reiterate: You need to see the examples on my webpage.

If your heart did a flutter over the idea of posting a map of your clients to Google Maps, I would not worry about it. When you import your lists, just import first names only. Or you could set up a column of ID numbers. No name would be displayed. (Unless you share your map, it can only be viewed by you. I am entirely happy with Google’s privacy controls.)

But before you import this information, let’s add a little bit of data to the Little Data you already have.

Let’s divide your clients into quintiles. We will use extremely scientific designations:

1 = The top 20%

2 = The next 20%.

You get the idea.

We are going to make separate imports into Google Maps. Each of your quintiles will be assigned a different colored pushpin.

Among other things, you will be able to see some little clients who live right next door to big clients. Now, what would that suggest? Might it suggest you don’t have all the assets?

To give you a little bit more to think about, let’s also import information about your prospects.

You: OK. Now what am I supposed to do?

Me: Just download the directions from my website. Create “My Map.” Play around with it a bit. Click on various layers and then unclick on others. Learn how to visualize different categories of your client database.

Let’s see what we can learn.

Turn off quintiles two, three and four. Do you see any of your little clients living next door, or nearly so, to your top-quintile (or number one) clients?

Let’s do another example. Unclick everyone but your top-quintile clients. You want more of them, right?

What if you hire a high school intern to look up each of your best clients and then get the name and address of all the people on that street? You could invite these individuals to seminars or other events. Wouldn’t you then have a list of “birds of a feather?”

Now turn on your list of prospects. As you look at your map, odds are some of your prospects will be very close to one of your clients. A quick call to a client could go like this:

You: Hey Martha, I’ve been talking to someone who lives just a couple of doors from you. They might become a client. How well do you know Bob Barking?

Martha: We know him well. Fred and I and Bob and his wife play Pickle Ball every Saturday.

You: With your permission, I would like to mention to him that you have been a client for the last seven years. Can I suggest he give you a call?

Martha: You don’t even have to do that. I will see them both in a couple days. I’ll put in a good word for you.

The Answer to a Tough Question

Your CRM may well contain some insights on what you should or should not do.

Let’s take a contentious topic — getting rid of small accounts.

Perhaps it doesn’t feel right to you. Perhaps some of the people who’ve helped you come to the party fall in to the very category you are being urged to jettison. What should you do?

Let’s do a bit of analysis.

You have already looked at a map with your list of first-quintile clients and fifth-quintile clients turned on. That might already suggest some people not to chuck overboard.

But there’s another bit of analysis we can do that does not require a map.

Go back to the Excel spreadsheet in which you assigned a quintile to each of your clients. Write down another number in a separate column beside each of your top-quintile clients.

You should be asking this question: What percentage of my top clients were formally bottom-quintile clients or referrals from bottom clients?

If it’s a large percentage and you throw out these “bottom feeders,” aren’t you shutting down one of the feeder lines into your “top clients” group?

Let’s find out. Sure, emotion may play a part in the final decision, but let’s do this analytically.

Beside each client’s name, write down one of these numbers:

  • Referred by a top client; based on assets acquired in Year One, this client went immediately to the top 20%.

  • Acquired through an introduction made by a center of influence; immediate top 20%.

  • Acquired by networking with wealthy individuals.

  • Came from public seminar.

  • Referred by a “medium client.”

  • Former bottom-level client who inherited or otherwise acquired wealth.

  • Referred by a bottom-level client.

This little exercise will take you 10 or 15 minutes. The key question to resolve is how many assets came from the answers to questions 6 and 7?

One of my clients is being pressured by his firm to get rid of his smaller clients. I had him do this exercise.

He reported that about 55% of the assets in his top tier came from clients with a 6 or 7. As you do this exercise, keep this question in mind: Could you have predicted which of your 6 and 7 clients would one day be in the top 20%?

The Little Data can help you make this decision.

Employment Status

Let’s take one more example of how to use Little Data in your CRM.

If you don’t have an “employment status” field in your database, you should. This would be a single choice field (as opposed to a multiple choice).

The choices should be retired, professional, business owner, employee, corporate executive, teacher/clergy, pension administrator, etc.

If you cannot add such a field to your CRM, then just export all your clients to an Excel spreadsheet. In the header row, you just need two columns for name and employment status.

You already know your clients’ employment status. Take an hour, and by looking at each client’s name, decide how to label his or her employment status. Note it in the “employment status” column or field if you can create one.

Sort your spreadsheet by status. Or, if you have just a little bit of Excel skills, go to your data menu and make a pivot table. This will give you a count for each employment status.

You: Now what?

Me: You know the bulk of your clients are retirees. Let’s see where they live.

Export your retirees to an Excel spreadsheet. Create a new map. Import.

Does this suggest the best location for a luncheon event? Should these clients bring a guest?

Import the clients who are business owners. Do you see any pattern? Is there any way to get more of what you’ve got?

There’s no news here. But what if you notice that 15% or so are professionals? These would be your doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. Are there any more professionals where those came from?

You can use these maps for planning routes to visit clients and prospects, for delivering care packages to CPAs during tax season and for doing whatever else your fertile mind can come up with.

The prospects are endless!


Bill Good is chairman of Bill Good Marketing. His Gorilla CRM System helps advisors double their production or work half as much; visit His book, Hot Prospects, is the book on prospecting for this industry and can be bought on Amazon. His blog, Advisor Tips and Tricks for Growth has lots of useful information for advisors who need to beef up marketing. To preview Bill as a speaker, see his YouTube channel.