How to Manage a Sales Territory by Busting Common Myths
Successfully managing a sales territory can increase revenue, improve customer coverage, and reduce company costs. However, more often than not, territory planning (as outlined here) and management leads to tense conversations initiated much to your sales reps’ chagrin.
So, as a first step towards better management of your territories, here are a few guidelines to follow when faced with some of the biggest myths we’ve heard around the issue.
Tips on How to Manage a Sales Territory
- Embrace Territory Management as a Key Piece to the Sales Puzzle
Handle territory management as a key piece to the sales puzzle…and not as the myth “It’s just one more thing to do” would suggest. If you treat territories as one more thing on your to-do list, that’s what they’ll become. Are you guilty? If so, can you blame your sales reps if they aren’t completely sold on their assignments?
Think of it like building a house on a strong or shaky foundation. These assignments are your foundation, and by taking shortcuts, sales won’t have a standing chance. As a sales leader, you should have a thorough knowledge of the territories you’re assigning to your reps—you should know everything about the territory: the number of open opportunities, the top hundred 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 their own, and take ownership of the assigned territory rather than something they’ve been asked to babysit.
- Prepare and Communicate Thoughtfully to Dispel This Rep Favorite
Get out in front of the myth of “Those other territories are better than mine” with better preparation and communication. Without a doubt, you’ve been given some pushback from your team when it comes to assigning territories. Admit it, you’ve heard something along the lines that some reps get the “good” states while others get stuck with the “bad” states.
But, what makes a state good or bad? Most of the complaints probably stem from preconceived notions, so if you’re able to change that thinking, and start disassociating certain territories from what they’ve generally been believed to be, then you’re on to something.
Here’s how to turn it around. States historically thought of to be “unassuming” still have a multitude of business opportunities. And while the great state of Idaho isn’t as exciting as, let’s say, New York, on paper, find 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. We guarantee that if you pitch territories intelligently 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.
But, it all starts with your attitude.
- Don’t Treat Territory Distribution as a “Load Lightener”
Rather than buying into the myth of “Territories let me focus on important customers,” make it a point to review and update territories for the better.
The whole concept of territory management is designed to help distribute work and increase volume of sales. However, some sales leaders can use the distributing of territories 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 their big-picture goal. If you haven’t updated your territories in a while, chances are some sales people are working harder than others. Regions and products change, thus territories should stay up-to-date, too.Some key factors to consider when updating your territories include:
Travel time: You want your reps selling, not driving.
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 from new customers?
Product sales: Look at current product sales and make sure you are matching them appropriately.
- Involve Reps in Planning, Always
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 is often done without sales rep participation.
Like everything else that is done without collaboration, such as goal setting, etc., you can expect less buy-in from the uninvolved party. While better results are bound to come when you involve reps in the process, you’ll also take away their voice when it comes to complaining about unfairness. Of course, if circumstances change or there is need to reevaluate, you want your reps to speak up. The point is, if you involve them early on, the added transparency keeps them motivated now, and later.Underutilizing your sales team is a sure fire way to slow down your progress. Trusting them to successfully handle risk will inspire their performance long-term.
Simply put, the key to successful 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.
Best Practices for Territory Design and Management
Handling sales territories can be a difficult endeavor for any business leader. Learn what it takes to effectively research, set, and manage territories as well as the best ways to handle sales rep pushback and how to foster a supportive team environment.