Tame Your Territories, Focus Your Forecasting: How Territory Management and Forecasting are Inextricably Linked

Apr 27, 2021
3 min read
The less data-driven territory design is, the fewer predictability sales managers have, harming forecast accuracy. Learn how to use data to develop territories in order to minimize forecasting surprises.

Q: What is the cornerstone of any happy, high-performing sales team?
A: Territory management

By creating truly balanced territories, organizations unlock the ability to align their sales teams to hit and exceed company goals. Having a strong plan also enables remote teams to have clear visibility into who owns what territories and what opportunities are present in those locations. 

Here’s a stat for you: organizations that invest the time, energy, and resources into territory management see a seven percent yearly increase in sales purely through territory redesign, as well as 14 percent higher sales objective achievement than the average business.

For companies of all shapes and sizes, effective sales territory planning is critical for sales success. Without having a resilient plan in place, it’s nearly impossible to get into your revenue end zone. 

If you’re currently operating under a “we just plug in the zipcodes and go” or “we hit our number last year so we’re just going to not touch the plan and hope it yields the same results” mentality, keep reading. There’s a better way!

Territory Management Basics:

Alright, here’s a quick exercise for sales managers:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever asked yourself, “I can just call it good if I give my reps the same number of square miles, right?” (We can’t actually see your hand, but for the sake of the argument, let’s say we did.) Technically yes, you can just overlay a grid on the map and call it a day. But in doing so, you will pass over a slew of revenue opportunities that are present that you may not realize. 

Assigning each of your sales reps to a different section of the map is definitely the simplest way to create sales territories, but it’s not always the most effective. Instead, consider your company’s go-to-market strategy and overall business goals. What is top of mind for your company this year? How can that shape your business’ growth over the next five years?

These questions can be answered with a sales forecast.

How Forecasting Data Helps Build Stronger Territories

When in doubt, reference data to help you adjust territories. Your most accurate and most reliable data comes from an intelligent sales forecast. This helps to determine sales targets and identifies areas that are worthy to allocate resources to. 

When sales leaders think of forecasting, they’re most likely to picture a report of what’s coming down the pipeline. But realistically, it’s so much more than that. An accurate forecast provides crucial knowledge that empowers you to make better business decisions when it comes to sales activities and revenue—especially during territory mapping

Gartner reports that more than half of companies (55 percent) don’t trust their sales forecasts, and Miller Heiman Group data shows that less than 20 percent of companies have a forecasting accuracy above 75 percent. When you think about that remaining 25 percent of forecasting accuracy left on the table, you can start to see how many opportunities that could equate to. 

Top performing organizations are turning to data to measure the sales opportunities that exist for customers and prospects across territories. Simply comparing the size of territories and the historical volume of sales does not provide a full picture into lead potential. Organizations need access to other, more detailed metrics if they are to equip their sellers with the tools and knowledge they need to make their numbers. With this insight, enterprise companies can design more balanced territories and avoid missed opportunities.

With an automated solution, managers have an easier view of the numbers for better territory balancing and alignment based on data-driven insights. This allows leadership to have broader visibility into plan aspects, such as resource allocation, and have tighter control on the balanced and fair distribution of potential sales.  

By taking a more scientific approach and having the right data, sales teams can automate processes to make forecasting timely, accurate, and flexible. This process releases sales data from the silos of dreaded spreadsheets and allows the essential information to be integrated with other business systems, such as automated territory maps.

How Mapping Technology Can Benefit Forecasting Efforts:

In today’s modern, and somewhat turbulent business landscape, the power of foresight is everything to a business. Territories are not a “set it and forget it” strategy. You need to check in throughout the year to make sure they’re still giving your sales team what they need to succeed—and adjust where necessary. 

Through the implementation of an intelligent and intuitive solution that is tailored to your specific sales performance processes, you can source the critical data that your sales team needs. From sales territory mapping to sales forecasting, giving your teams and leadership the visibility and agility to plan and optimize in real-time gives you a built-in advantage when it comes to hitting and exceeding revenue targets.

Learn how you can use data to map effective territories that can give your company a leg up in reaching its go-to-market goals in our recent guide: The Expert’s Guide to Data-Driven Territory Management.

  • Forecasting
  • Territory Design
Emily Jahn
Content Marketing Manager

Emily Jahn is a Content Marketing Manager at Xactly. She earned a degree in advertising from The University of Colorado - Boulder and has experience in copywriting, social media, and digital marketing.