You wouldn’t rush into battle without a plan of attack.
The same holds true for developing your territory management strategy. You need to predict the moves of your opponents and fortify your existing positions. But the most important element is how you deploy your sales representatives to the front lines.
Developing this process from the ground up might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Read on for everything you need to gird your sales team with tactics and tools that will lead to victory in the market and beyond!
What is Sales Territory Management?
In the traditional sense, sales territory management is an assigned geographic area on which sales reps work. This past rigid structure has since broken down and become a relic of the industry of the past. With radical interconnectivity afforded by the internet, business is much less likely to be confined — and in many cases defined — by the geographic areas from which they originated.
Sales targets had to be thought of along new axes: product, industry, and service to name but a few. Further, with more powerful tools for aggregating and analyzing data, sales departments have been able to approach clients and potential leads based on trends such as purchase history or referral sources.
According to a survey conducted by the Sales Management Association (SMA) and Xactly in May 2018, only 36% of companies use territory management in an effective way (64% of companies are either only somewhat effective or are completely ineffective).
While the overall plan you devise to tackle the landscape of industry 4.0 is something that must be decided based on the factors unique to your industry, we’ve compiled seven of the best tips to help your campaign bear fruit. Feel free to skip ahead to one that might be the most pressing for your team:
- Develop a visit rotation schedule
- Account for seasonal trends
- Optimize for long-term ROI
- Find new ways to divide your sales territory
- Leverage other customer-facing colleagues
- Track performance over time
Best Practices for Sales Territory Management
1. Develop a visit rotation schedule
Keeping tabs on all of the accounts you have open is a crucial organizational element for any sales territory management strategy. Regardless of what characteristics you use to chop up your market segmentation, determining how much contact accounts within each require can go a long way towards helping your reps know when to reach out to a client or lead. Additionally, call tracking platforms that integrate with your CRM system can be used to augment and streamline this process.
2. Account for seasonal trends
You wouldn’t want to try selling ice cream on the streets of Chicago in January. Making sure your schedule accounts for the “on” and “off” seasons for a particular territory. The new organization categories spawned by the internet have their unique patterns and trends, and learning these are crucial for any sales manager who wants to set up their reps for success. Don’t bother your customers when they won’t be buying your product or service, but make sure you’re top of mind when they’re ready to start looking again.
3. Optimize for long-term ROI
While fresh leads are certainly exciting, the overall success of your sales ventures will live and die by the long-term results you are ultimately able to generate. A good way to ensure this comes about is by encouraging your sales reps to stick to the battle plan you’ve laid out for them based on sales seasons and your call rotation schedule. Of course, disregarding a new lead is never a good idea, and you want to have a good plan for sales prospecting. But the time your reps spend on these potential opportunities should be undertaken in the context of your overarching sales plan.
4. Find new ways to divide your sales territories
One of the many benefits that the increasingly internet-centric world of business hold for sales teams is the ability to target demographics based on data. Of course, geographic sales territories were some of the first conventions to go out the window, but don’t let that be the limit of how you organize your reps’ efforts. Spend some time thinking about who your target customer is and what it is they care about, then figure out how to approach them on those lines.
5. Leverage other customer-facing colleagues
Sales can be tough work. Getting your business in front of an ever-expanding market can be nigh impossible for one team to handle on their own, let alone manage the relationships that are so critical to actually close substantive deals. Make sure your marketing colleagues and customer service teams are aligned with your overall strategy so that they can produce content, events, and other services that can help your reps focus on what they do best.
6. Track performance over time
No plan survives first contact with the enemy, so it’s important to be flexible even after implementation. Keep a keen eye turned towards the essential metrics of how your reps are performing over the different territories you’ve assigned them and take note of what’s working and what needs to change. Maybe the characteristics you used to decide the different territories need to be re-assessed or perhaps the timing for a particular sales push was off. Even the most meticulous plans will have flaws, and those need to be addressed at the earliest available opportunity.
Planning Makes Perfect
Any battle-ready sales territory management plan will ultimately be shaped by the industry knowledge that professionals on your particular team will bring to the table. However, there are commonalities to the planning process that have emerged with the rise of the internet in how we conduct business that can be of use to any organization as they figure out how best to optimize their teams for long-term, sustainable performance.