Seven Sales Territory Management Tips to Empower Your Sales Strategy

By Lain Chroust Ehmann
Map of North America with red thumbtacks marking client locations to determine sales territory breakdown

Sales territory management is key to effective sales prospecting, territory management, and, ultimately, a sales strategy.

You wouldn’t go into a championship game without your best players on the field – and each player knowing their role in the game with precision accuracy. They know who they cover, where and when they need to do it, and the best techniques to keep them from scoring. Your sales team is no different. In fact, your sales strategy around territory planning and territory mapping should stack up to this same philosophy so you know, without a doubt, that your sales team is always putting their best foot forward.

1. Divide your territory in a way that makes sense

One of the first steps to effective territory management is to have a concrete view of current customers, potential customers, competitors’ activity, and the location of all of these. Time in front of qualified customers is the most productive and the most rewarding for your sales team and your organization. It’s critical to maximize those moments and minimize the hours spent driving, doing paperwork, and visiting with no- or low-return customers and prospects. The question is, “How are you going to manage your time to make the most of it?” asks Nigel Edelshain, founder of Sales 2.0.

This makes it essential to have an accurate and concrete view of current customers, potential customers, competitor activity, and the location of your accounts. Divvy it up in a logical way – whether by area code, industry, product, or another sales strategy that makes sense for your business. Keep it simple and efficient for your sales team.

2. Create a call rotation plan

Keeping in contact with prospects and accounts is critical to building (and keeping) a strong relationship with your clients – and could-be clients. In fact, one could argue that, in today’s world, it’s one of the most important elements of customer loyalty. Make sure your territory planning has a sales strategy that aligns to how much contact each account requires. This eliminates the guessing game and builds a schedule for your sales team. If you have a CRM connection, automate it further with alerts and notices that go out when contact should be initiated.

So, how do you do this? At the beginning of each year, review your current customers and targets, and create a territory plan for servicing each account. As you look at each, determine if they need in-person visits, phone calls, emails, or marketing promotions, and the frequency they require. A common sales strategy is to contact dormant accounts once a quarter with a phone call and a mailing. A more active, high-volume account may need a monthly in-person visit, plus regular phone calls.

Once frequency and connection type are confirmed, set up meetings by quadrant for your high-priority accounts and fill in the gaps with lower-priority accounts (reference sales territory management tip number four below).

3. Set priorities and stress the importance to your sales team

Rank your clients in order of priority by using a simple method (e.g., A, B, and C). Then use these codes when scheduling touch points and sales territory cadences. Ensure your sellers know that, for example, an A account requires little effort for a larger return, B accounts require more effort for a smaller return, and C accounts require a lot of effort for very little to no return.

Then stress the importance of sticking to the follow-up and communication plans on a regular basis. Let them know where they are going to be each day of the week and how to prioritize. “Pick the low-hanging fruit” is a typical recommendation, but it’s not always the right move.

4. Use your relationships to cross-sell and upsell

Leveraging existing customer relationships is a great way to expand revenue and wins in a specific sales territory. Now more than ever, customers are looking for a strategic partner, not just a vendor. They want to be consulted on current or upcoming challenges and new innovations and solutions they should be taking advantage of for their business.

Use your trusted relationship in Department A to make your way into Department B – in a way, prospecting your own account. It’s not as glamorous of a win for your sales team as a new huge client, but it’s still a win. And it’s one that could potentially have a larger payoff in the long run. Not to mention, it’s less expensive to secure. Try building a case study map and see where it takes you – the payoff can be well worth it.

5. Stick to the big-picture view

Time is key when it comes to territory management. Don’t get distracted by the phone calls and the questions that take you away from your goal and your sales plan. Losing track of your sales strategy will, in the long run, result in losing control of your sales territory.

Create a series of qualifying questions that help you determine how critical it is that you drop everything. Consider these three categories to qualify a lead:

1. Do they want what you sell?
2. Can they effectively use your product or service?
3. Is there a compelling event with a time deadline?

If all three criteria are met, you can consider rearranging your schedule to accommodate theirs. If not, then you can judge the immediacy of the request and slate it in either the next time you’re in the quadrant, or, if necessary, on your Friday flex day.

6. Stay up to date

Stay abreast of what’s happening with your customers; any breaking news or updates may either open a door for a conversation or create a risk on the account. In addition, tend to the details as they happen – don’t let them pile up until your sales plan is in a 30-, 60-, or 90-day mess on your desk. You don’t want to risk missing any critical details. Review your prior meeting notes before each meeting, record action items, and update contact information as you discover it. It’s not the fun part of the job, but it makes you more efficient and wiser – leading to longer customer relationships and quicker closed deals.

7. Make meetings count

With larger accounts, or in a larger sales territory, you may only have the chance to see your clients face-to-face once or twice a year. Make sure those meetings count. Update yourself on your customer before the visit, set meeting specific goals, and have a plan of attack on how you can provide additional value to them. Don’t forget to give them a daily dose of positivity. It goes a long way to making a memorable encounter.