Five Elements of an Effective Sales Territory Map

Aug, 01 2018
7 min read
Balanced, fair sales territories are vital to strong sales plans and performance. Understand the key elements you need to build successful sales territory maps.

The sales territory is a geographical area that is managed by a sales rep or sales team. A territory can be defined by sales potential, history, geography, or a combination of the above. The objective is to make sure sales territories are balanced to help increase revenues.

 As a result, sales territory design is a critical process for your sales performance management (SPM). Territories should get even coverage by each assigned sales rep without any overlapping or the need to add additional reps to a territory--unless the demographics change. Without the use of sales mapping software, a territory may not be as well thought-out as it should be. 

It's important to use the right data to make the right decisions about territory boundaries. Sales managers cannot trust their gut instincts, or spreadsheets, about what makes a territory both fair and profitable. In order to maximize sales in each area, you must use intelligent, insightful, and data-driven tools such as sales mapping software. 

1. The Right Data Insights to Induce Thoughtful Analysis and Segmentation of Existing Customers

To develop an effective sales territory map, it is crucial to take inventory of your current set of clients, leads, and prospects. The next step is to divide your customers by purchase history, location, spend, vertical, demographics, or some other critical sales characteristic. 

With sales mapping software, you can integrate third-party data such as vertical data, population trends, and even the number of hospital beds in a territory with your CRM data. With that type of information, you can then place a focus on which verticals your team has the most success with, how they make purchases, and their location. 

For instance, do these customers require a lot of nurturing or do they often buy online with minimal interaction? On the other hand, are they the types of customers who require a lengthy presentation to convert? Segment your top customers, and look for common characteristics. 

It's imperative to know who your customers are and where they live--you can get this data from the integration of your CRM data with sales mapping software. You can then get a visual representation of opportunities spread over a geographic region.

Additionally, territory mapping software lets you customize how you visualize and display this data – for example, highlighting more strategic accounts with different or larger symbols. With these insights, you can spot trends within your market to create more balanced and profitable sales territories, which give your reps and equal chance at finding and closing sales opportunities to hit their quotas.

2. Established Goals and Targets

If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. When you're creating your sales territory map, it's critical to set clear guidelines and goals that are easy to track and measure. In a 2018 survey with the Sales Management Association (SMA), Xactly uncovered best practices and trends for strategic territory design. If you're having trouble looking for specific targets, it helps to take these items into consideration:

  • How many opportunities do you need to meet your quota?
  • Which geographical regions could use more attention?
  • Which locations do most of your leads come from?
  • How many reps should you assign to each territory?
  • Which products and services do customers purchase the most?
  • Which products and services are the most profitable?
  • Which customer segment brings in the most revenue?

By answering the questions above, you can get a clearer picture of your necessary objectives for each territory. You might come up with specific goals such as "We need x amount of customers in this location for this quarter," or "We need five more accounts in this vertical by the end of this year." Management certainly needs to have measurable goals for each territory because all the sales reps will rely on it.

3. A Tangible Strategy

It's important to have a strategy for all your territories. You can do this once you have clear goals for the territories. It's also crucial to have an even and fair distribution of reps in each territory. You want to match the skill sets of your reps with the types of territories you assign. 

On the other hand, you might have reps with established relationships in a particular territory--if so, it makes sense to give them those accounts. Your sales mapping software will help tremendously with creating your territories. To ensure you have an effective strategy, it's important to think about what you need. You can start by answering these questions:

  • What resources does your team need to reach their goals?
  • What do your reps need to succeed in their territories?
  • How can you increase conversions in each territory?
  • Are there any opportunities in under-served territories?

Nonetheless, the strategy for each territory can vary. To manage different strategies, managers should create customized plans tailored to the unique demographics of each location. To illustrate, a strategy would be different for a growth-oriented location than it would be for a more established location. 

Moreover, there is a difference between "growing" and "maintaining" a territory--each requires a different strategy. It takes more time and resources to grow business in a new or under-served territory. To maintain a territory, you may also have the ability to maintain your current strategy and spending level.

Your sales territory mapping software comes with features such as displaying demographic data on a dynamic map with hot and cold opportunities listed. Plus, you can refresh data in real-time to better respond to changing consumer demands. As a result, you get more insight into areas of opportunity.

4. Balanced Territories

Keeping your territories balanced can be an ongoing process as markets and demographics tend to evolve. There may be several changing dynamics that affect how your territories respond to your goals and strategies. If territories aren't balanced, then your sales reps can't take advantage of the potential business opportunities within the defined geographical area. Also, if territory distribution isn’t equitable, reps may become dissatisfied, leading to attrition, which ends up costing the business.

With sales mapping software, you can integrate third-party data intelligence. Combined with geographic data, this allows you to distribute territories in a logical fashion – based on sales potential as well as location. With compact and travel efficient territories, you can increase productivity – lowering drive time and giving your reps more time in the day to sell.

The right balance includes enough coverage, a fair amount of potential profits per rep, and a sales history equal to the industry standard. On one end of the spectrum, a salesperson's territory can be too large--then, the workload would be too heavy and unbalanced. As a result, the territory would be under-served--leaving money on the table. On the other hand, a territory could be too small leaving the sales rep begging for sales just to reach their goals.

This can lead to low morale,  a highly frustrated sales rep, and increased turnover. Yet, when the territories are balanced, every sales rep has an equal opportunity to meet their goals and contribute to the overall profitability of the company. By using sales mapping software, you can create balanced territories and ensure the right coverage.

Advanced sales mapping software provides a scorecard that offers instant analysis around territory balance along with recommendations to optimize coverage and travel efficiencies. If one rep has a higher percentage of opportunities over another rep's territory, you can see that and re-balance your territories as needed.

This also leads to an improved responsiveness to emerging trends, better lead development, a balanced workload for each sales rep, and improved morale. Then, it leads to the optimization of both performance and profits. And, you can then focus on the best practices for sales territory design.

5. Measurable Results

Now that you have your sales territory map, goals, and strategies, it's important to track your progress. Your goal is to see how your new territories affect sales. Have sales increased in any of your new territories? Are there any significant disparities between the territories? Are any of your sales reps struggling to keep up with leads, while others aren't even making half their quota? Are there any underserved markets? 

As you can see, it is vital to take the time to evaluate all your sales territories. You need to see how business is doing on a consistent basis. If one location isn't performing as intended, use your sales territory mapping software to create a new one and/or change your tactics. But, you won't know whether you need to take action unless you track your progress.

Plus, sales reps and opportunities can change. Sales mapping software offers the intelligence needed to update and re-align your territories as needed.

Using Xactly AlignStar, a best-in-class territory planning solution, companies have reduced the time spent on territory design by as much as 75 percent. By moving away from time-consuming and manual processes, such as spreadsheets, to design territories, companies save hundreds of hours in time.   AlignStar automatically aligns territories according to travel efficiencies. With a user-friendly interface, organizations can balance sales potential for equitable distribution across territories.

In Conclusion

There is a lot that goes into an effective sales territory map. When you increase the travel efficiencies and overall balance of your territories, you also increase the productivity of your sales reps--which, boosts sales and decreases associated costs. Don't rely on time-consuming and error-prone spreadsheets; use sales territory mapping software to create the most effective, travel efficient, and profitable territories for your sales reps.

  • Sales Planning
  • Territory Design
Karrie Lucero
Karrie Lucero
Content Marketing Manager

Karrie Lucero is a Content Marketing Manager at Xactly. She earned marketing and journalism degrees from New Mexico State University and has experience in SEO, social media and inbound marketing.