Mythbusters: Sales Territory Management Edition

Jul 08, 2020
4 min read
Sales territories have a big impact on the success of an organization. Learn how you can manage territories better and ultimately improve sales performance.

Successfully managing sales territories can have a variety of positive benefits, such as increased revenue, improved customer coverage, and reduced company costs. However, more often than not, territory planning and management leads to the need for tense conversations...much to your sales reps’ distress. So, as the first step towards better management of your sales territories, let’s bust a few of the biggest myths we've heard around the issue.

1. Myth: Balancing Sales Territories is a ‘Bottom of The List’ Priority

Are you guilty of this kind of thinking? If so, can you blame your sales reps if they aren't completely sold on their territory assignments? Think of it like building a house. If the first step is laying the foundation, do you want one that is strong or shaky?

Territory management is a key piece of the sales puzzle, not just "one more thing to do." If you treat territory assignment as an additional monotonous project, that’s what the process will become. 

Your sales territory assignments are part of the foundation of your sales plan, and if you take shortcuts, your team won't have a fighting chance to close the business they need to. As a sales leader, you should have a thorough knowledge of the territories you’re assigning to your reps. This means you should know everything about the territory: the number of open opportunities, the top-priority accounts, the CRM reports, how much money came out of that territory the previous year, and more.

We’re really only scratching the surface here. Doing your own due diligence will motivate your reps to do the same and take ownership of their assigned territory.

2. Myth: Territory Assignment is a Game of ‘Playing Favorites’

Admit it, you’ve heard something along the lines that some reps get the “good” territories while others get stuck with the “bad” areas. But, what makes a territory good or bad?

Get out in front of the myth of “those other territories are better than mine” with better preparation and communication. That mindset only fuels disengagement and poor morale. Without a doubt, you’ve been given some pushback from your team when it comes to territory assignment.

Most of the complaints probably stem from preconceived notions, so if you're able to change that thinking, and start untangling specific territories from what they've generally been believed to be, then you're on to something. Here’s how to turn it around.

Data shows that areas historically thought of as "unassuming" still have a multitude of business opportunities. And while the great state of Idaho isn’t as exciting as, let’s say, California, on paper, territory mapping data finds ways to make these territories attractive to a rep. Be honest with them, showcase data intelligently, and help them identify areas that they can use to their advantage.

Pitch territories thoughtfully, instead of simply doling them out. Reps who are thoroughly inspired to perform will take their territories and run with them, rather than put up a rebuttal. Using data to drive territory planning helps you balance territories so the "I got the short end of the stick" argument doesn't have to exist anymore due to available insights showing that everyone has equal opportunity regardless of the area they're assigned. Access to this kind of territory data allows reps to have visibility into their assignments and allows leaders to identify spots they may have previously overlooked.

3. Myth: Territory Distribution Can Be Seen as a ‘Load Lightener’

Rather than buying into the myth that "territories let me focus on important customers," make it a point to review and update territories regularly. The entire concept of territory management is designed to help distribute work and increase volume of sales.

However, some sales leaders can use the territory distribution as a crutch, to lighten their own workload. Instead, it’s imperative that sales leaders repeatedly review the progress of their sales territories to make sure they’re on track toward the organization’s big-picture goals.

Regions, the market, the economy, and products change regularly, thus territories should stay up-to-date, too. Some key factors to consider when updating your territories include:

  • Sales cycle: Don’t move a prospective client from one rep to another if a lot of progress has already been made.
  • Workload: How much attention do existing clients in the region require? What is the potential of new customers?
  • Product sales: Look at current product sales and make sure you are matching them appropriately.
  • Industry and market trends: Watch for where new business trends and markets may be emerging or relocating—either get ahead or watch to see what happens.

4. Myth: Reps Don’t Need A Say in Planning, They’re ‘Order Takers’ 

Don't believe for a second that "reps don’t need to be involved in planning." Their involvement is invaluable. It may seem obvious, but territory planning and management are often done without sales rep participation. 

If you involve your sales team early on, the added transparency will keep them motivated now, and later. Underutilizing your team is a sure-fire way to slow down your progress. Trusting them to successfully handle risk will inspire their performance long-term.

The key to successful sales territory management starts and ends with knowing your team and your territories better than anyone. Your reps and quotas should be used strategically and relied on wholly. These actions will ultimately ensure that you’re able to master territory management.

Ready to learn more about how to digitize, optimize, and pivot your sales territory plans? Check out our solutions page for Xactly Alignstar to learn more about how to create fair and balanced territories for your remote salesforce.

  • Sales Planning
  • Territory Design
Kim West
Kimberlee West
Product Marketing Manager

Kim has over 10 years of experience building insight and engagement strategies from her consulting and advisory background. As a Product Marketing Manager at Xactly she is responsible for the Planning suite of products that are foundational to Sales Performance Management.