Do any traveling lately, maybe over the holidays? As a sales consultant on the move for clients, I can relate. And if you’re like most folks who flew over the Christmas season, you paid a high price for a cramped seat stuffed in between your fellow stressed-out passengers, bereft of comforts except perhaps a starvation-sized packet of salty, tooth-cracking stale peanuts. Now airlines are stuffing in even more cramped seating to make the experience that much better. Are the airlines deliberately setting out to lose business? Not really; they’re just focusing their resources on their high-value clients — which is a high-flying sales strategy we can all follow.

Think about it – the airlines don’t particularly need to focus on the 80 percent or more of folks who choose an airline solely on the basis of the cheapest-priced ticket. These businesses understand that most of their customers are so focused on a deal that they’ll completely ignore the promise of amenities, which is why we see airlines throughout the industry racing to the bottom in terms of cost and service level.

A high-flying sales strategy that gets us where we need to be

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. There are some people the airlines do focus on: business class customers. While regular folks suffer, those who can afford tickets at two to five times the economy rate get to spread out on seats that double as beds, all while getting served champagne and lobster in comfort that possibly beats what you’d have in your bedroom at home.

As we head into 2014, make a list of your high-value, “business-class” sales leads – effectively, the 20 percent or so of your potential client base who contribute most of the revenue of your business, without necessarily requiring a correspondingly high level of maintenance. Also note which customers are time-wasters, doing the minimum for your business while requiring the maximum care and servicing.

It’s perfectly fine to have a lot of low-value clients if they’re low-maintenance. As a sales coach in Vancouver, I know that can be a very profitable sales and business model. But if you’re finding (as many of us do) that some low-value clients require a high level of energy from you, don’t be afraid to drop those dead duck clients out of the nearest hatch, so you can focus your energies more on those high-value sales leads you really want to target.

So, what’s your high-flying sales strategy? Re-focus using the 80/20 rule and you may find your business really taking off in 2014.