This Expert's Corner Article on 'How to manage a new sales territory' is brought to you by Steve Benson, CEO of Badger Maps, the #1 sales route planner in the App Store.
Steve’s entire career has been in field sales with companies like IBM, Autonomy, and Google – becoming Google Enterprise’s Top Performing Salesperson in the World in 2009
Managing a new sales territory can be intense for sales reps. You're now responsible for a large new territory, away from your family for long periods of time and perhaps have no idea where to start. This article will help you when it comes time to managing your own new sales territory.
This is terrifying for a lot of new reps. And it’s true, territory management is a tough job. It’s very easy to fail, but if you stick with it the rewards are incredible.
I always tell new reps they should manage their territory like a business. It gives you the mentality you need to succeed without becoming overwhelmed. If you approach your territory from a systematic, professional perspective you’ll see more opportunity for organisation.
1. Review your Territory.
You might get unassigned a completely fresh territory, but more than likely you’ll get a territory that’s been managed before.
That means there are existing customers who have a history with your company. In business and territory management there are good opportunities and bad ones. You need to recognize both so you aren’t wasting time in the field.
Time is your most valuable resource. If you want to push your business forward you need to know where to invest your energy.
Audit your territory’s history in your CRM, and talk to the reps who previously managed it, if possible. You’ll find a treasure trove of information and find the best opportunities pretty quickly.
Look for positive signals like:
- Customers who purchase consistently - these are great up-sell opportunities
- Customers who purchase large orders - mark these as high priority.
- customers you should follow-up with regularly
- Deals that didn’t close - these are potentially easy wins, they may just need some nudging.
Familiarize yourself with your territory. Which areas will you be in most often? Creating regular and consistent routes for your anchor appointments will save you an extraordinary amount of time.
2. Develop your Territory Attack Plan
Once you’ve reviewed the current state of your territory, create a plan on how you’ll build it out.
Define your existing customers, opportunities, and any leads on your radar. Rank each of them by priority, and rank them by priority. Use your most valuable accounts as frameworks for the type of leads you’ll go after.
- Company Size
- Industry Use Case
If a certain type of account has a bigger need for your solution than other types of accounts, mark them as high priority. Separate any high priority accounts you’ll visit regularly as anchor appointments. These routes are the foundation of your territory plan.
If you have a list of prospects to visit, try to schedule them around your anchor appointments. The biggest time sink in field sales is running around your territory to all of the meetings you need to make. It’s better to keep your appointments relevant and close together.
Think about how a manager schedules meetings. They wouldn’t fill their day with pointless meetings that weren’t tied to business goals. Each appointment has to maximise your ROI. You might have less control over this as you start building out your territory, but over time you’ll develop a systematic approach to managing these relationships.
Any prospecting you do should revolve around your anchor appointments. You’ll be surprised how many qualified leads are nearby existing accounts.
If you can find 1 or 2 leads to drop-in on around the same time as an anchor appointment, you’re in good shape. Keep track of these leads as you qualify them. Any promising prospects should be visited as frequently as your anchor appointments.
As you drop-in on leads, find out what their core problems are. You should gather as much research as possible on the needs of your customer base, it never stops paying off.
Follow your high priority accounts and prospects on social media. This helps you stay on top of company updates and keep your follow-ups relevant.
Successfully managing your territory starts with a healthy sales pipeline. You need to make sure you have a steady flow of deals coming in and closing. You’ll dry up your pipeline if you focus too heavily on either area and ignore the other. Even the best salespeople can’t hit their numbers if they don’t have enough deals to close.
Don’t forget about your competition. New reps often forget that there’s always another option for your customers to choose. Make sure you track the leads who choose, or already use, your competition. Check-in every so often and make sure they’re happy with their decision, you’ll find some easy wins.
The end result of your territory plan is a schedule. You have a list of priority customers to visit, along with nearby opportunities to visit nearby.
3. Implement & Execute
Once you’ve defined your territory plan, it’s time for action.
Take a full day to prepare your first sales route. Confirm your anchor appointments and double check your routes. Badger Maps is a great way to plan and optimize your routes. The last thing you want to do is double-back or zig-zag between meetings, this eats up your time and productivity.
Prepare all of your sales collateral, have your goals for each meeting memorized. Check your gas, oil, and tires and pack anything you’ll need on the road.
As you visit your anchor appointments and call on your leads, take detailed notes on every meeting. It’s easy to forget what happened during a sales meeting, and those details are what move deals along.
You might not get it perfect the first time. That’s okay. Look for the inefficiencies and holes in your schedule and fix them as fast as possible. As long as you stay aware and keep improving, managing your territory will become easier and easier.
4. Review your Progress
Now that you’ve successfully started building out your new sales territory, review your progress consistently.
Take a weekly audit of your sales activity. Are you hitting as many meetings as you can? What’s eating up most of your time? Your time is the most valuable resource you have, track it habitually.
Treat yourself like an employee receiving a performance review. Be honest with yourself. Territory management is one of the most fulfilling and independent jobs there is, but it takes a lot of personal responsibility to succeed.
It is important that your territory is balanced and well serviced. You should be consistently seeking out leads, identifying prospects, and spending the ideal amount of time with customers so that none of them end up going to your competitors.
Managing a sales territory is an extremely important role in any company. Your performance directly impacts your organisation. Don’t take this lightly. If you’re able to manage your territory, and yourself, like a business - revenue Sales territory management is an important role in every business because you can boost sales, increase your sales team’s morale, create a larger customer base, and promote team cohesion.