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Direct Sales Basics III

Managing Your Sales Territory

Many companies organize clearly defined sales territories. Most sales territories are areas (usually set by zip codes or geographical boundaries) in which sales reps are to devote their time and energy to accomplishing sales results. Sales territories may be relatively small (perhaps spanning only a few miles or even a couple city blocks (in larger, metropolitan areas,) to larger territories, covering one or several states.

I’ve had employees and associates selling in territories of all shapes and sizes. A family member once sold for a company where he was expected to call on companies in a five state area, and a friend of mine once had a territory the size of a city block- in downtown Chicago. 

Most of the sales territories I’ve designed were portions of states. The higher the population of leads or prospects in a state, the smaller the geographical area. My main goal in designing sales territories is to create an opportunity for an average or really good sales rep to maximize their sales results while attempting to minimize possible inefficiencies- primarily drive time, but in some occasions, natural geographic boundaries (think mountains, or islands!)

Advantages to arranging a territory

Even if you’re by yourself in an area with no other reps, it still pays huge dividends to organize a territory to help you focus your attention. The following are just a few of the benefits:

1) Keeps you focused By knowing and learning as much about your prospects as
possible, you’ll stay focused. We’ve watch reps (who didn’t use territories) get strung out and waste a huge amount of time. By organizing a very compact, geographical-based territory, you can stay focused on a smaller, manageable group of targeted Prospects.

2) Prevents long, inefficient drive time If you don’t stay focused on a smaller, manageable area, you’ll find yourself driving all over the place (anywhere you suspect a prospect may be.) Without even noticing, you can soon be wasting 3 to 4 hours a day
driving! Having a compact, well organized territory keeps you in charge of your day and can save you a lot of gas money.

3) Builds name recognition within your focus By focusing on the same core businesses or prospects each month, you’ll eventually start building relationships with people (secretaries and the actual Prospects) Even if a Prospect isn’t currently interested, by making continued repeated contact with her (say for example, every 90 days or so,) you just may eventually set an appointment and close her! Without a compact, defined territory, you might literally be so ‘across the board’ that you’d NEVER have the chance to make consistent calls on a Prospect. In fact, you may become a “one shot wonder.”

4) Enables use of name based rapport for selling By staying in the same area, your names will work! Everyone knows everyone else, which builds instant credibility for you! If you work an unmanageable territory, you’ll be a stranger- your names won’t work!

5) Provides efficiencies Just having a smaller space to focus on will make you incredibly more efficient- everything from ”sneaking in” a few extra demos between appointments, to being able to return home without a 3 hour drive! Remember, ‘windshield’ time or “time behind the wheel” is one of the biggest Time Bandits any sales person can experience.

I’ve had countless rookies try to persuade me to ‘increase’ the size of their sales territory. It seems almost every sales person equates ‘bigger’ with ‘better.’ But what they don’t realize is that it’s the exact opposite. 

Most sales people fear not having enough business in an area. But I’ve repeatedly found the converse is true. There’s usually more business in a smaller territory than ANY sales person can handle! If a sales person only needs 50 to 100 decent-producing accounts per year, then he or she may quickly find that even trying to work a medium-sized territory or larger territory may be a huge waste of space (and Prospects...!)

Back To Direct Sales Basics III

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