At Janek, we often witness how sales territory alignment and planning are overlooked components within sales organizations. Quite frequently they run on auto-pilot and are given little attention by sales leadership. In other words, once the sales territories are set up (often based on guesswork and gut feeling), they are rarely reviewed or reassessed. As a result, many organizations run the risk of either assigning the wrong reps to the wrong territories or creating imbalance within the territories. While the lack of planning may not have a discernible effect on the sales numbers right away, the lack of transparency in this process can create an environment of resentment within the sales organization.
As with other areas within sales management, territory planning and alignment is an area that should be periodically reviewed for its effectiveness. Just as you would never neglect to reassess your commission structure, sales quotas, or sales processes, the same should hold true for territory planning and alignment. Sales is a dynamic, fast-paced, and ever-changing world. It is critical that active management of your organization's territories is included as part of your strategy to remain relevant to changing business priorities and objectives. Let's take a look at some tips to take some of the guesswork out of territory planning:
- We live in a data-driven world. Territory planning should be an active part of your management team's forecasting and sales analysis processes. If you are using a CRM to manage your accounts and opportunities, you likely have a good amount of valuable sales and firmographic data available that you can use to segment and organize your markets and customers. Gain insights as to where the biggest opportunities exist within each territory and identify those that show signs of growth. At this point, assign reps whose performance potential are best aligned with these opportunities. Using this approach, you will be assigning territories based on real data and trends, rather than simple guesswork.
- Listen to what your managers and reps have to say. Mapping and aligning sales territories should be a collaborative process and team effort. Instead of making decisions from the top down, work with your managers and sales reps to gain insight from the front lines. Examine your territories. Which ones show the most promise? Which are in the backwater where no one wants to work? Why is this? Your sales reps have a knack for detecting opportunities. They can provide valuable insight as to the dynamics of each territory. Be sure to take advantage of their ideas and intuition to help build stronger and better-aligned sales territories.
- Keep your plan dynamic. In sales, we often improvise and think on our toes, responding to any unforeseen variable. In short, being flexible is a necessary sales trait for any sales rep and a norm in the world of sales. Territory planning and alignment is no different. Pay attention to shifts in the economy, business priorities, or staff turnover and adapt as necessary. Reassign staff and reallocate resources based on these changing demands and continue to measure the outcomes of your decisions.
When you implement planning, tracking, and collaboration, you will see a change within your organization. Not only will you likely see a positive turn in your sales, but you will also see a change in the morale of your employees. Territory alignment is an often neglected area of sales management that can have a critical impact on the success of your organization. Don't leave your territory alignment up to chance. Listen to your team members, analyze the data you have available, and always be willing to be flexible.