In most verticals, competition is at an all-time high and top sales organizations are looking to get the most value from their teams. With a focus on efficiency, sales territory management is a main driver for ensuring that the time and energy of each outside sales rep is focused on the activities that will have the most impact.
What is Outside Sales Territory Management?
Sales territory management is the process of using data to segment customers and prospects to ensure the best use of company resources. In addition to cutting out the noise of low-return accounts, thoughtful sales territory management aligns salespeople with the most appropriate customer base – whether that’s by geography, vertical, expertise, or past relationship.
Many field sales teams neglect to prioritize solid sales territory planning; even when they do, they often have trouble adapting and revising based off sales performance. In this post, we’ll introduce 6 steps to create a winning sales territory plan, best practices for managing sales territories, and finally, we’ll introduce six tools that are helpful for managing sales territories of any size.
6 Steps to Create a Winning Sales Territory Plan
# 1 | Analyze Your Customers
The first step in the process is analyzing your current and prospective customers. You should think about what characteristics your customers have in common.
Some key things to note about your customers are:
– Their locations
– The products or services they purchase from your business
– What types of problems your products or services solve for them
– What types of events lead customers to buy (or not buy) your products or services.
It is also important to seek out needs within the market that are not currently being fulfilled. This can help you to develop a unique plan that provides products or services in a way that your competition cannot or will not provide them.
# 2 | Analyze and Develop Your Team and Resources
The next step is to analyze your business’s resources and personnel. You should have an accurate picture of the type and volume of customer that your business is equipped to handle.
It’s particularly important to note the strengths and weaknesses of your business team to ensure that you can further develop and utilize strengths while simultaneously working to improve any weak areas. You should also consider the resources currently available, in addition to ways that you can best utilize or improve those resources.
# 3 | Set Measurable Goals
Using the data gathered from analyzing your customers, team, and resources, you should develop goals for your business. Some of the best goals you might consider are:
1. Income generated per month
2. Number of sales attempts per week or month
3. Number of sales closed per week or month
4. Ratio of leads to sales closed per week or month
After identifying goals for your sales territory plan, you should create a measurable strategy for meeting each of these goals.
Each goal strategy should include:
Goal statement: Putting a goal on paper transforms if from abstract to concrete. The goal statement should address what you’re planning to achieve and what is at stake.
Key milestones and deadline: The road to achieving a goal is much clearer when it can be broken into several smaller milestones. For example, if your goal is to attain $9k in revenue for the month for a given product, you can track progress by breaking it into smaller milestones, such as $3k by day ten, 6k by day 20, etc.
Metrics for measuring success in the field: Clearly defined KPIs will provide you with a highly specific way to ensure that your business’s goals are met expediently. Measurements such as leads created, leads contacted, and leads closed, available on the SPOTIO sales dashboard, give great insight into productivity and can give you insight into how your tracking against goals.
These goals will inform your sales territory plan by helping you determine which segmentations will best equip you to meet these goals. Goals should be realistic and manageable, but at the same time, they should push your business to expand and grow to competitively meet the needs of your customer base.
Need help hitting your goals? This free template will help:
# 4 | Define Sales Territories
Based on the work you perform in the sections above, you should have an idea of how to divide your sales territories. It’s important to document these clearly, outlining details of each territory including things like:
– Geographic Boundaries
– Industry or Segment Boundaries (including any overlap and how that is addressed)
– Revenue Boundaries
– Product Boundaries
– Anything else that may be applicable to your sales organization
Creating a plan that differentiates territories will help you to organize and separate areas and ensure that you can develop a plan for your outside sales reps to reach out to every potential customer.
# 5 | Territory Action Plan
Once you have outlined your sales territories, it’s time to create routes for your sales representatives. This will prevent any overlap between territories or reps, which will save time, effort, and money. As you create routes, set a schedule that ensures that all parties along the route are visited in a timely and effective manner, determine how often to call on each account and whether the calls should be in person or by phone.
By investing in planning routes for your sales team, you’ll minimize time wasted by wandering sales reps.
# 6 | Field Data Entry – “Notes as you go”
As you implement your sales territory plan, keep an accurate and up-to-date record of its outcomes using your CRM. This record will help you to track successful aspects of your plan, in addition to what parts of the plan were not as effective. Using this information, you can adjust and optimize your best sales territory plan as needed.
Entering meeting notes as you leave each appointment is extremely valuable, both from a time savings and organizational perspective. Often times you have multiple meeting blocks and forget valuable nuggets of information you learned from that meeting. With a sales tools like SPOTIO, you can jot down your notes from your mobile device and sync them directly into Salesforce.
Now, not only are your client notes and meeting records full of fully recalled and valuable information, you just updated your CRM in real-time. As an added bonus, you don’t have to spend time after hours backtracking and manually entering notes from the days meetings.
Since no two territories and no two field sales reps are alike, you can use a tool like the SPOTIO sales dashboard to track performance and adjust as required. Insights you may track include how the team is tracking against KPIs, the average number of attempts it is taking to establish contacts, or the number of leads closed.
8 Sales Territory Management Best Practices
1. How to handle territory conflict
This is a fickle subject. As a manager, how can you fairly assign territories? And once assigned, how do you ensure reps are not poaching accounts from fellow reps? To be fair with territory assignments, being mindful in how you go about dividing them up is where you’ll win:
Size. The reps who perform better with smaller businesses need to be assigned more accounts, while those who excel with large accounts should be assigned less. Although the number of accounts varies, the total possible revenue goal for each rep is equal.
Zip Code. Make sure rep assignments are in close proximity to on another to avoid them spending more time selling and less time in the car getting from one to the next.
Vertical. Some people connected better with specific industries. Once you identify each reps strong suit, give them more accounts with the business types they excel.
By understanding their strengths you can assign territories to match strong suits. When your sales team is excelling and closing business, territory conflict seems to disappear.
2. Mileage and expense tracking
What’s the company’s policy in terms of mileage reimbursement? Outside reps with a lot of ground to cover should receive some degree of compensation for their travel expenses (gas, oil changes and basic maintenance). When reps are reimbursed for their travel, they will be less likely to avoid meeting with a prospect or checking in with a current account in an effort to save money on travel.
Not sure what reimbursement plan is best? We’ve got you covered:
Mileage as a Tax Deduction
Employed and independent salespeople can claim mileage as a tax deduction. The mileage works as an expense, and those with intensive sales routes can write off the standard rate for every mile they drive for work.
Standard Mileage Reimbursement
Mileage rates are subject to change in each tax year. The standard rates are determined based on market research that determines normal expense ranges for using a vehicle. The rate increased from 2017 to 2018. The 2018 IRS rate for normal business use is 54.5 cents per mile. Additionally, you can write off 18 cents per mile for vehicle use relating to medical purposes. The standard 2018 rate for any charitable use is 14 cents per mile.
Reimbursement Based on Sales Routes
Salespeople are often reimbursed for mileage using the standard rates or a rate increase based on individual company policies.
Diligent mileage tracking is critical for reimbursement. The ability to prove every mile to your employer and/or the IRS is imperative for you to receive the reimbursement or deduction. A spreadsheet that lists the date, starting mileage, ending mileage, total miles and notes is easy to store on a clipboard and log each day. Mileage-tracking phone apps are also convenient; they track trips and allow you to make notes and log those miles. For dedicated sales routes, a physical log is convenient and will not fail to record when your phone dies or loses service. (Source)
3. Create a rotating schedule for contacting customers
This will help to ensure you regularly communicate with prospects in a timely manner. It is important that your sales representatives not contact prospects too often, as this can be an annoyance. However, your reps should contact customers on a regular basis to ensure that their needs are being met.
4. Meet needs of current accounts while finding new leads
For the best sales territory management plan, it should have a dual focus on providing services to high value accounts, and developing relationships with potential new accounts.
High value accounts are those guaranteed to bring in higher volume sales in shorter amounts of time when compared to other accounts. While high value accounts are extremely valuable to the stability of your business, it is also important to cultivate new accounts, as these will bring about business growth. You plan should prioritize both of these customer types.
5. Consider the seasonal needs of customers
Depending on the type of products or services your business provides, your customer base may have needs of a more seasonal nature. You should take care to recognize these seasonal needs when determining when to contact customers and prospects. Understanding their seasonality also helps you ensure that you can meet their needs in a timely and effective manner.
6. Ensure data can be updated and accessed synchronously
Synchronous data updates allow your sales representatives to update and access customer data in real time. This means all reps will always be able to view the most current customer information. This allows them to further expedite the sales process.
7. Keep thorough and up-to-date notes on customers
Any communication with customers should be documented and accessible to sales representatives. This should include personal information such as the customer’s favorite food, in addition to more sales-specific information such as the customer’s budget.
8. Think big picture
It is important to think big picture when it comes to producing your best sales territory plan. You should always be seeking out ways to foster the growth and development of your business. Thinking long-term will help to ensure that your business does not stagnate, but instead continues to flourish and grow.
6 SPOTIO Features to Manage Sales Territories of Any Size
Tool Name: Customer Mapping
What it does: Customer mapping software allows you to create a map of your territories. You can drop pins on specific locations, which allows you to track routes within territories.
Why it is important for a manager or rep: Customer mapping software can help you to optimize sales routes. With a tool like Spotio’s Precise Location Tool, you can drop pins on a map, creating a visual way to design the most logical sales routes. This saves valuable time and money so that you can introduce more customers to your product or service.
Tool Name: Outside Sales Tracking
What it does: Outside sales tracking enhances the sales process by providing real-time updates about the locations and activities of sales representatives.
Why it is important for a manager or rep: This feature saves time for managers by providing a quick and easy method to map out and assign territories to sales reps. It also helps managers to quickly recognize any areas where sales reps may be struggling and in need of additional coaching or training.
Tool Name: Territory Manager
What it does: The territory manager enables managers to create custom maps of different territories for assignment to sales reps.
Why it is important for a manager or rep: The ease with which territories can be created, assigned, and viewed means that managers will no longer have to spend hours reviewing physical maps and drawing out territories for assignment by hand.
Tool Name: Sales Dashboard
What it does: The sales dashboard provides data in real time related to the performance of your sales representatives.
Why it is important for a manager or rep: The sales dashboard promotes organization and allows managers to easily track their teams’ activities.
Tool Name: Lead Management
What it does: Lead management software organizes information related to leads and provides it to users in an organized and easy-to-understand format.
Why it is important for a manager or rep: This software helps to generate more sales by ensuring that leads are organized and easily accessible for users.
Evaluating Sales Territory Performance
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are defined as, “a set of quantifiable measures that a company uses to gauge its performance over time. These metrics are used to determine a company’s progress in achieving its strategic and operational goals, and also to compare a company’s finances and performance against other businesses within its industry.”
KPIs are measured in different industry-specific ways. According to Steve Andersen, these measurements can include this such as the following:
Growth of current accounts
Development of new sales opportunities
Advancement of sales against a consistent set of criteria
Development and success of a high percentage of sales targeted
Ability to accurately predict sales within a given territory
Sales dashboards can help you to track KPIs to ensure that your business has a specific set of standards that can be used to measure its success. One such sales dashboard is Spotio.
Sales territory management can help your business to grow by collecting and organizing all information you need. This is beneficial to all team members at any level of your organization. Understanding and utilizing sales territory management software in an effective manner can ensure that your business will flourish in the modern sales market.
Questions or comments? Contact SPOTIO at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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