3 Keys to Maintaining Effective Sales Territories

Posted by Bryce Record on March 26, 2012

While not all Yellow Page sales people work specific geographic territories, the points in the following article may have application to how publishers make sales assignments.

What makes for the “perfect” Sales Territory? Does it even exist? Numerous aspects must align (and remain aligned) in order for a Sales Territory to be consistently successful.

Mapping and Maintaining Sales Territories is a tricky process, and it will likely remain tricky forever. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for improvement of your Sales Territories. It also doesn’t mean that there aren’t steps you can take to maintain effective Sales Territories today.

Below you will find 3 tips – easily performed, but yet still often overlooked – that can aid in improving your Sales Territories for 2012 and beyond.

  • Analyze. Good Data = Good Decisions.

There are plenty of options out there for how to track and analyze your sales force, sales territories, and overall productivity. It doesn’t matter quite as much how or what you use to perform this sales analysis as much as it matters that you do it.

If your business requires it, use a sales territory mapping and analytics tool. Or track the data yourself, so long as you can do so effectively.

The bottom line is that you need to be well informed in order to decide where and when to send your sales force to make it the most productive. You aren’t going to send sales reps to Minnesota selling snow shovels in July – but you sure as hell are going to send them up there in November as everyone preps for blizzards and freezing temperatures. As a result, you’ll be utilizing your sales force much more efficiently and effectively. Instead of blindly selling shovels year round, you can take a more strategic, pointed approach. Come July, your sales force will be in Florida, selling sunscreen.

This is obviously a rather rudimentary example of how data (Minnesota gets blasted with snow every winter) can boost your revenue (we sold so many shovels last fall and winter, let’s do that again this year). However, it is an example nonetheless. Track, record, and analyze data that can boost your bottom line. Don’t ignore the facts – or be too lazy to realize them.

  • Rank Your Clients

Knowing your clients – and what you can expect from them in terms of generated revenue – is essential to maintaining effective Sales Territories. In order to keep your territories aligned, optimized, and balanced, you must be able to anticipate and accurately project what type of production you can expect from your clients.

One of the best ways to do this is to rank clients as A, B, or C.

  • A’s are reliable. You know that you’ll get a decent chunk of change from them throughout the year, and the effort expended on them isn’t too substantial.
  • B’s are a little trickier. They generally pull through as you hope they will, but often take a more effort to do so. They are more unpredictable in generated revenue than A’s, but it’s often worth your while.
  • C’s take a large amount of effort from your sales force. Not only that, oftentimes the amount of revenue generated is not equivalent to the effort expended.

The ultimate goal of this process is to distinguish one account from another so you know where to spend your time most effectively. This builds sales force and territory efficiency.

  • Review Sales Territories Regularly

Sales Territory Review is second in importance probably only to Analyzing (because without data, there would be nothing to review). A thorough Sales Territory Review should occur at least once a year.

Depending on what you discover from this review, there are a couple things you are going to want to keep in mind:

  • It’s possible that you may have to do a redesign. When just starting out, the goal should be to create a territory that stays valid for about a year. Later on, you can shoot for 3-5 years, but you’ll still have to review them every year.
  • Despite your findings, don’t make changes in your territories to compensate for weaknesses or accountabilities in your sales force. It will only complicate your territories down the line.
  • Foresight! This is one of the most important things to strive for with your sales territories. Anticipate your growth so that new sales force members can mesh easily with your system, and you won’t need to perform a full-out territory redesign each time you grow. It’s better (and cheaper) to design your territories a year into the future and leave some open until you can fill them than it is to realign every 3-6 months.

Put it into Action

There are a number of things you can do to improve your own sales territory maintenance and effectiveness.

For instance, there are analytics tools you can get online for relatively. You could also hire an outside consultant or professional software for a more substantial cost (which may be justified). Or you can do it yourself in Excel. This all depends on your needs, but the tracking and reviewing of Sales Territory data isn’t something that should be ignored or taken lightly.