Sales Territory Success—It’s All in the Planning

2 stick figures stand at a flip chart as they draw game plays

We agree with Alan Lakein, the well-known author and expert on time management, when he says, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Once you have your eyes on a goal, you need to devise a step-by-step path to reach it…whether it’s an athletic challenge, an intellectual pursuit or a sales target. And the more difficult the goal, the more careful should be the planning to get there.

Sales territory management training offers a good example of how to prepare and plan for success. Your goal should be fairly easy to define in terms of client revenues, pipelines, margins, results and relationships. The specific sales targets depend on the market’s potential, how differentiated your offerings are, past and present customer satisfaction, your experience and your skills.

Let’s start from the beginning. Think through:

Your territory’s current business
Who are your top customers and what are they buying? Are there trends up or down that you should be aware of? 

Your customers’ reasons for buying
You need to determine why they are buying…or not. What is it that you offer that fills their need? What kinds of pain or problems do you most effectively address better than your competition?

Your differentiation
How do you compete and win? Identify both the strengths and weaknesses of your offerings and your approach. Articulate your value proposition so you zero in on those target customers who need you and spend less time on those who don’t.

Your objectives
Be specific about what you will need to succeed, e.g., how many accounts do you need and of what size in order to reach your revenue targets. Prioritize your markets, your customers, and your products so that you know where your efforts will be most effective and derive the most success.

Your strategy
OK, now it’s time to figure out the few most critical, overarching strategies. Perhaps you need to simply work on current accounts to expand and deepen them. Or maybe you need to work toward generating new business at new clients. Whatever your plan, it should propel you toward key relationships and sales growth.

Your sales team
Despite “owning’ your own territory, you do not work alone. Marshal the resources of your team to help support you. Do they have helpful contacts in your territory or unique subject matter expertise? You’re all part of the same company and should be glad to team up.

Your Plan of Action
Here’s where it all comes together…not just in the steps you plan to take but in the execution of those steps. Set up specific actions and their due dates just as you would for any major project. And then define key milestones.

The sales territory planning is done…you’re off and running. Monitor the results and adjust as you learn.

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