Sales territory management is an important but often overlooked part of managing a successful sales team. Without a solid plan for establishing sales territories, it is difficult to focus your team, establish success metrics, set goals, or analyze the markets you are targeting.
“So much has changed over the past year that even companies with established territories are smart to take a fresh look at how they are organized and what new opportunities are available now that may not have existed previously,” said Merit Kahn, CEO of SELLect Sales Development. “Imagine you are building a territory from scratch. Even if you don’t end up making any significant changes, you’ll have a renewed commitment to what it will take to grow each territory and an up to date game plan,” Kahn said.
So how can you build or grow a sales territory from scratch? In this guide, we’ll explore the answer in detail.
What is a Sales Territory?
A sales territory divides responsibilities amongst sales teams. These divisions are often geographical in nature (e.g., West Coast vs. Southeast). They can also be centered on customer groups (e.g., B2B sales vs. B2C sales). You can even create sales territories based on industries if your business model supports that.
Benefits of a Sales Territory Plan
It’s exceptionally important to make a solid sales territory plan before creating and assigning sales territories to sales teams.
With a good sales plan, you can:
- Ensure an equitable division of effort and opportunities
- Align territories with the experience and talents of your sales personnel
- Create and optimize a better sales strategy
- Set goals and measure results effectively
- Prevent sales team members from poaching leads from one another, intentionally or accidentally
Your plan acts as a set of clear guidelines to follow so that the territories you create are always based on sales territory management best practices.
How to Create a Territory Sales Plan
So, where do you begin? It takes a lot of work to create a sales plan for new territory. It’s helpful to have a roadmap to follow, especially if you are also learning how to grow a sales territory.
Here are the steps that you should take:
Define Your Market
Ultimately, a sales territory represents a physical or conceptual division. Before you can create those divisions, you have to define your market. This means identifying who you are selling to and relevant attributes that relate to your target market. Those attributes can include:
- Physical locations
- Psychographics (values, opinions, motivations, lifestyles, interests)
If you are in B2B sales, you might also consider:
- Physical locations
- Business sizes
- Industry types
- Organizational roles
Once you have the attributes listed, you can determine which of them are relevant to your products or services. These will influence the ways that you create your sales territories and how your salespeople actually work to meet the needs of prospects within their assigned markets.
Sales territories can be defined based on one attribute or multiple. For example, you might decide to simply divide your territories up geographically based on roughly equal square miles.
You could also divide by both physical locations and another attribute within that location. For example, you might define your territories in this manner:
- Territory 1 – Small businesses in Austin
- Territory 2 – Fortune 500 companies in Texas
The goal is to create territories that will make it most likely for your team to succeed.
Conduct a SWOT Analysis for Sales Territory Plans
A SWOT analysis analyzes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Strengths are the things that your team does very well or advantages you have in a given market. Weaknesses are defined by what you lack — and what your competitors may have.
Opportunities are any circumstances that you can leverage to your advantage, like an area that hasn’t been served yet. Threats are anything that can act as a roadblock. For example, a competitor might already have a significant presence in a territory.
Once you have completed your analysis, you can use it to determine which salespeople or sales teams will be most likely to have the best results in a given territory.
Set Business Goals and Objectives
You have your sales territories set at this point. Now, it’s time to focus on the ways to grow your sales territory.
Start by creating some goals and objectives. Use the attributes and data from your SWOT analysis to create challenging but reachable sales goals for each territory.
Each goal should be time-constrained so that you are able to measure success and define quotas. This can ensure that all sales team members know how well they are progressing towards their goals.
Implement Strategies to Accomplish Your Goals
With support, all team members should create strategies that they can employ to help them meet their assigned quotas and goals.
Challenge your team members to answer some of the following questions:
- What is your plan for developing new leads?
- How often will you follow up with prospects?
- Are there tools or training you are lacking?
- What is the unique value proposition you will communicate with potential customers in your territory?
- Which means of communication do you think will get the best results?
Your sales team should recognize that although you may have created their sales territory, it is up to them to determine how to grow it using their strategies.
Track Your Results to Improve Your Plan
Consider what has happened within each territory over time and use that information to improve the strategies being implemented.
Take a holistic look at things. Are any of the territories falling short? That could indicate a shortcoming in your overall territory plan. If this is the case, it might be time to look at new types of sales territory design.
Things to Consider When You’re Learning How to Build a Sales Territory from Scratch
Here’s a helpful list of additional best practices that you might implement when you’re building a new sales territory:
- Consider temporary influencing factors for any given market, such as seasonal increases in sales
- For virtual sales, think about online behavior as a psychographic attribute
- Encourage sales teams to stick with strategies through a defined period of time, but reevaluate strategies in between seasons
- Work with marketing teams to ensure that their work supports your sales objectives
Finally, realize that this is an iterative process — every business will likely refine its sales territory plan over time.
Start Building a Sales Territory Plan with SELLect
SELLect Sales can provide you with the training and support you need to designate sales territories and maximize your team’s efficiency in reaching new audiences. Our services include advanced online sales training for your staff, sales process consulting, sales coaching, and more. Stop selling, start getting SELLected.
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