As a startup founder, Steve Benson knows that his customers hold the keys to his success. That’s why he prioritizes getting their feedback above everything else.

But there tends to be a lot of “everything else” in his day. So how does he set aside the time to be responsive to his clients? His secret turns out to be surprisingly low-tech: an Excel spreadsheet. Steve uses his spreadsheet as a to-do list and CRM in one, distilled down to the elements of his immediate world and his day.

steve benson spreadsheet
*Click on image to enlarge

How it Works
As he interacts with people throughout the day – receives emails, holds meetings or leads pitch meetings – Steve adds everyone to a spreadsheet of contacts. He has columns to track

  • the person’s name;
  • a response deadline; and
  • a priority.

Steve assigns a priority number between 0 and 4 to each every person on the list.

  • 0 = Dead contact
  • 1 = Unqualified Lead
  • 2 = Qualified Lead
  • 3 = Trial Customer
  • 4 = Full Customer

The priorities are what drive Steve’s day. His goal is not to go to bed without hitting all his 3 and 4 priorities. Ranking his priorities ensures that the non-important things never overshadow the important items, even if the non-important items are more urgent.

It also ensures that he knows what needs to be done, and what can wait.

The strategy can be used for managing any process – from a sales region and pipeline to your taxes. The beauty of it, as Steve sees it, is that everything is consolidated into a single space, with easily changeable value points. While it may not be infinitely scalable, it does help to bring one’s own world of work and priorities into sharp focus.

Steven Benson is VP of Sales and Marketing at Badger Mapping. The company has an app that allows sales people to see all of their customers on a map, plan routes to those customers, and find new leads while they’re on the road.