Best Practices: Territory Business Management

Recently our friend and colleague, Jim Hale, published a blog on territory management and the art/discipline of applying multiple resources and time to effectively generate sustainable sales. In the end, winning Territory Action Planning (TAP™) results in increased customer satisfaction and relationships, higher win rates and overall better revenue and profit results. Because this is such an important subject, we reprise some of the best practices associated with TAP in this blog.

High performing sales teams manage territories like they are individual businesses to build strong sales pipelines, advance their sales opportunities and grow relationships with selected accounts. They have realized through experience that the sales territory is the superset of our sales assets, and that without the proper care and attention, we can put these assets at risk.

What is a sales territory? In our sales and negotiation training with clients we have seen practically every possible flavor and derivative of “the territory,” including geography-based territories, industry-focused territories, product-focused territories, named-account territories and even territories that consist of a single account.

Building a Territory Action Plan – the TAP!

Whether the territory is based on geography, industry or named accounts, most effective territory business plans include seven core components. In situations where strategic account management programs are utilized, named accounts are typically grown through the development and deployment of strategic account plans, a type of business plan for extending and expanding the relationship with an individual account (to be discussed in a future post). But in the case of the more typical sales territory, the core elements of the territory business plan should include:

  • How much do I have to sell (quota)
  • Where do I sell (territory)
  • What do I sell (solutions)
  • Who do I sell it to (the best profile for a viable prospect)
  • What should my message be (unique, compelling business impact messaging)
  • What is the best way to create awareness (routes to market)

The TAP Outcomes

When the sales territory is managed and developed properly, you can expect to see several predictable outcomes. Effective territory management and planning will typically result in a “target rich” business environment in which the territory manager is selecting and growing existing customers and accounts, as well as advancing and winning targeted sales opportunities.

In an effectively managed territory, we expect to find a portfolio of existing customers that are providing (or will potentially provide) new business opportunities, as well as references and proof statements of the business value that has been created for them through their previous experience with their territory manager and his/her company.

There are several key areas of inspection that can provide significant insight into the overall health and performance of the territory and an effective territory plan, and these include:

  • Growth of Strategic/Key Customer Relationships
  • Identification and Advancement of Opportunities in the Sales Pipeline
  • Development and Close of Targeted Sales Opportunities
  • Accuracy of Sales Forecast
  • Increased Margins

We have seen these results during good times and bad — through Y2K and multiple recessions — across six of the world’s seven continents. It all centers on the implementation and utilization of practical sales skills.

There are three key areas where we see significant issues with today’s salespeople:

  1. Territory/account planning and management to proactively build a solid business pipeline
  2. How to have compelling business conversations that clearly quantify and articulate the business impact of the solutions
  3. Effective sales and negotiation skills that enable stronger margins by negotiating for business value, not price.

If you would like to learn more about our structured and proven approach to maximizing territory revenue including the TAP program, please click here.