The Marketing 80/20 Rule and How to Take Advantage of it

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is attributed to the Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. In one of his papers, Pareto noted that about 80% of the land in Italy belonged to approximately 20% of the country’s total population. In essence, the Pareto Principle infers that there’s an 80-to-20 relationship between effects and their causes.

The Pareto Principle transcends disciplines. In sports, for example, you’ll find that at least 20% of athletes win 80% of the time, or that roughly 20% of training and exercise impact 80% of an athlete’s performance. Similarly, when it comes to healthcare, about 20% of patients depend on as much as 80% of the nation’s healthcare resources.

Applying it to the business world, the 80/20 rule suggests that 80% of your company sales come from 20% of your customers. Alternatively, you could say that 20% of what you do represents 80% of that particular activity’s outcome.

The 80/20 Sales Principle

In the sales and marketing ecosystem, you can use the 80/20 rule as a guide to come up with highly effective business solutions for your company. Below you can discover a few strategies to help you focus your attention and resources on your top 20% customers.

  1. Discover Your Best Customers

Discover Customers

You probably have hundreds or thousands of contacts on your client and prospect lists from your website, and email and social media marketing efforts. Keep close tabs on which customers made a recent purchase, are frequent buyers, or which ones were generous in their purchases.

Once you’ve identified them, tag them as a top priority for your sales and marketing efforts and use their customer data to help you find and attract new audiences.

  1. Locate Your Customers Geographically

Locate Customers Geographically

Look for trends in your POS platforms, paying special attention to where your best customers are. You’ll notice that certain neighborhoods, locales, cities, or regions are far more lucrative than the rest of the market. You can then leverage this information to boost your sales and marketing strategies in these locations.

  1. Identify Customer Niches

Identify Niches

During the selling cycle, you’ll likely come across customers who exhibit particular behaviors that signal buyer intent. Use this information to identify commonalities among prospects actively looking to make a purchase, and build on their experiences to drive them along your sales funnel.

  1. Deal with Difficult Customers

Difficult Customer

Whether you like it or not, you’ll be dealing with hard-to-please or overly demanding customers who test your patience and pull down your productivity numbers through needless, recurring questions or requests.

If you’re at their beck-and-call, it means you’re not setting expectations right or being firm in setting the parameters of good customer service. Take a look at these customers and their buying habits. Are they in your top 20%? You may be losing precious time engaging with and responding to customers who, in the long run, simply may not be worth the time and effort.

Setting the right expectations is the best way to deal with customers who waste your time.

  1. Delight Your Best Customers

Delighted Customers

Certain clients are always going to be your high-volume buyers, but it’s important not to take them for granted. Don’t lose sight of your best clients while getting bogged down in acquiring new customers or dealing with problem clients. Make sure that you’re always staying in contact with your best clients and providing a superior customer experience.

Keep these types of customers delighted with your service by interacting with them on a more personal level, and continue exploring other business opportunities with them.

  1. Watch How Your Best Salespeople Work

Best Salespeople

Take note of the top 20% sales people in your organization. These are the members of your team who are closing more sales or are delighting your customers most effectively.

Whatever attributes and techniques your top salespeople have should be your yardstick in forming additional teams or in training the rest of your sales force.

  1. Manage Your Operational Costs

Manage Costs

Managing your costs works on many levels: it helps you save by avoiding counterproductive measures and enables you to make good budget decisions. For example, you might decide to let go unproductive salespeople go while augmenting your remaining team’s daily meal allowance, thereby increasing your sales team’s productivity and efficiency at work.


To sum up, the 80/20 rule can provide a solid framework for your sales and marketing objectives. Whether it concerns your customers, salespeople, or company resources, it may be worth your while to adopt the Pareto Principle in your company’s business operations.

It’s an underrated technique in the sales and marketing landscape, but one that has great potential in propelling your business forward.

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