How playing Battleships can really grow your business…

… Yes, I do mean that game we used to play as children… so simple yet so clever… and its made quite literally £ms for businesses over the years and here’s how…

Many businesses have CRM systems which have all sorts of reporting capabilities and conversely many businesses don’t have CRM systems or have very basic systems with nominal reporting capabilities but few of these systems shows a combined real time snap shot by customer and by every product or service which customer has bought which product or service.

So if you look at the Magic Matrix image below you’ll see it shows in a simple grid with products or services on the x axis and customers on the y axis who has bought each of the products and or services. And more to the point it shows you the opportunity gaps i.e. every blank cell is an opportunity to sell that product or service to that particular client. Such a simple tool and whilst its potentially a bit of a pain to pull the information together, depending on the number of products and services sold and how the data is held, it is a very powerful tool.


The first task is to collate all the products and services that as a business you offer. You’d think this is easy to do but honestly experience has shown that once a business gets to a certain size not everyone in the business knows all the products and services offered. This exercise has been done with the whole sales team in very large organisations and the sales team and senior staff in smaller SMEs; whilst most have a understanding of the majority of products and services its rare to find a whole team/business that knows every product and service offered. So if not everyone in the business understands and knows the full range of products and services offered then how can they expect their customers and potential customers to know?

Having built the spreadsheet with the products and services available add all the customers in the business, you can do this for all active customers or for all customers –active or dormant. And then simply fill in the cells the products and services that each client has purchased. You might even fill the cell showing current and or regular orders in one colour and use another one where the customer has bought that product or service but not for a long time. Differentiating between the two identifies different opportunities as you’ll now have a complete understanding of the opportunity gaps where someone has never bought a particular product or service and one where they have bought in the past but not for some time… each would be a different type of conversation.

Cost of customer acquisition from the point of no sale to sale, as we all know, can be costly but the cost of selling to existing customers is much cheaper. And it’s also being of service to those customers. In the Magic Matrix grid shown you can see that Customer B has purchased products 2 and 4. Its entirely possible when they bought those products/services that product/service 5 wasn’t for sale and the thing is we’re very good at telling new and potential customers about the full offerings but not so good at telling our existing client base about them. Or perhaps when Customer B bought products/services 2 and 4, that 3 wasn’t relevant to them but their situation has changed and they now would be ideal customers for that product but because they don’t know that its available they aren’t buying it from you. Another lost opportunity.

Talking to a solicitor in a well established city firm he told me that he doesn’t know all the services they offer and he’s sure that when he talks to clients there’s opportunities he’s missing because he doesn’t understand the full range. And the thing is if the client needs those services they may well go elsewhere to get them. And if they go elsewhere to get them and that firm of solicitors offers all the other legal services they use then its possible they could be encouraged to transfer all of their business to that other firm. So it’s not just a lost opportunity but also lost existing revenue.

So having collated that information what do you do next? Quite simply pick up the phone and arrange a time to talk to each client about what’s going on for them and use that time, having gathered that information, to remind them of the full range of products and services that you offer and how they might be beneficial to the customer/client based on where they are now. Use the Magic Matrix to show where appointments have been booked and then update when the customer/client has been told about a product or service and again when the product or service has been sold. Use the comments box feature to add notes about the meetings and feedback you might have e.g. not relevant now but maybe in 6 months and then diarise to follow up. Use simple keys for the different statuses such as different colours or use A for appointments, T for told for example can again give a simple but effective real time snapshot of the status for the whole business.

Oftentimes when the customer/client is shown the Magic Matrix not only is it a great way to talk about the offerings that are potentially relevant to them but it could also be a great tool for them to use in their own business and so you can be adding further value to them. What if they haven’t bought from you not just because they weren’t aware that product or service was available but that their own clients weren’t aware… or that it would make it possible for them to deliver a different product or service to their existing clients making the potential value of using the Magic Matrix even greater.

Where there are sales teams then they can each have a Magic Matrix for their customers and these can then be collated for the whole business on a regular basis. It is possible to produce reports from a system that depicts this information however the format is really important – a written list isn’t very helpful however, most have different output formats so the report data can be converted into a spreadsheet which can then be updated. And of course its really important that the Magic Matrix is updated with new customers/clients.

In a business whether B to B to B to C that has a large range of products and services then it might be more sensible to chunk the information up into product or service groups with the detail behind each group. Then when having the conversations with customers/clients its possible to get into the granular detail.

The Magic Matrix is also useful to show where there are trends e.g. particular types of clients are buying certain products or services or particular sales staff are only selling certain products and services.

This can then be used to further explore why those clients only buy those products/services and why it is that certain sales staff are not selling the full range of products/services. Again a different take on the opportunity gaps and it may capture easily things that have been considered but not fully proven.

And perhaps there’s also a perception about what you actually sell/offer as a business. It could be worth surveying your clients first to find out what they think you offer, it would make it even more powerful to then show them what you do actually offer. And conversely they may be some learnings about how they see the products and services you offer not just the range and the quality but the benefits.

And as a tool the Magic Matrix is very versatile, I previously had a list of 23 different uses and just writing this article I have expanded that to more than 25. It can be used to track various marketing campaigns, demonstrate opportunities to potential joint venture partners, show referrals, time management, skills and knowledge sets and many more.

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