A Basic Guide to Territory Optimization

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December 31st, 2020.
A Basic Guide to Territory Optimization

Great sales teams are always striving to grow. They're agile, informed, and perpetually going above and beyond to figure out key areas they can improve.

But with ever-expanding goals comes a greater need to refine the processes that make your team tick. In this post blog, we'll help you understand how to optimize your sales territory strategy to achieve bigger and better things this year.

What is a sales territory strategy?

A sales territory strategy is a plan that will help your team identify, understand, and execute a plan to hit your sales team's goals within specific customer segments.

Here's an example of what one might look like:

It breaks down a physical territory, opportunities and their counts, and assignments to different reps. No matter what it looks like for your team, territory mapping has a definite benefit. For some companies, having a better-defined strategy has led to:

Here's how you can get there, too:

Determine what you're trying to achieve.

When you're trying to optimize your sales territory strategy, it's essential to know your baseline and understand how you're growing as a sales team.

Figure out what your annual goals for the next year are by working backward. If you're new to forecasting and aren't sure what kind of plans to set, working with what you've achieved in the past is an excellent start. Then, add about 10% on top of that, and you’ll have a plan that’s both aggressive and attainable.

After you've gotten to a sales goal number that makes sense, break it down into quarterly, monthly, and even weekly increments. So, if your annual goal is $1M, then quarterly, you'd need to hit $250k, and monthly you'd need to hit $82k. Use these numbers to build out your plans and what you need to hit to succeed over the next year.

Ask yourself: Who are you selling to?

While physical territory mapping can be critical, it's becoming less so with the transition into remote work. Instead of focusing on physical areas, target "territories" on business size, the decision-maker's role, or potential deal size. You'll be better able to optimize your sales territory strategy and target a larger audience when you don't limit yourself to physical space.

What market do you fit into, and who is your company trying to target? Your analysis of current customers will help give you clarity on who to focus on moving forward. Utilize tools like D&B Hoovers to provide you with insights to create even more useful user profiles.

The additional data will help your sales team target the right persona. Assign your most vital team members to the personas that they are best at serving to capitalize on team strengths.

Take the time to really understand your team.

When you spend time getting to know your team and building rapport, you have a better understanding of who will be the best fit for specific prospects.

Beyond knowing your team members' personalities and strengths, understanding your sales culture and performance is critical. For instance, in the first year, are many of your team members still learning the ropes? If so, perhaps they aren't the best fit for high-profile, challenging prospects.

On the flip side, maybe after a few years, you notice that team member engagement starts to drop—use that knowledge to place them carefully as well. Tenure, as well as experience and personality, should play a role in lead assignment.

While working to understand your team individually, consider conducting a SWOT analysis to understand them holistically too. Here are things to think about and assess:

  • Strengths: Where do your team and its members excel?
  • Weaknesses: Where do you lose prospects due to holes in your process? Are there any weak areas of your product that are hard to sell?
  • Opportunities: Are there segments or demographics that would be ripe to sell to that you currently aren't?
  • Threats: Who, or what, are your biggest competitors, and how much impact do they have?

All of this introspection will lead you to have a more effective and successful sales org in the long run.

Map your leads.

Now that you know about your sales team and all the people you're selling to, it's time to match them up.

Start from the top with your most high-value reps and critical deals. For instance, if you've hired a person with a history selling to educational companies, look through all of your prospects to find the sales rep the opps that will be valuable to them. The same goes for the type of decision-maker—if there’s one person that is extremely comfortable selling to marketing VPs or product managers, try your best to pair them with prospects and leads they’ll excel with.

Beyond that, try to automate some of this functionality moving forward. Use lead rotation to ensure that all valuable members of the team are getting exciting, profitable opportunities. Returning to the excellent education salesperson's example, start tagging incoming deals, and automatically funnel those to them to take a step out of your process. One of the best ways to optimize your sales territory strategy is to take as much margin for error out of the equation.

Always be improving.

The most important thing to remember when you're trying to improve anything is to track your progress against the benchmarks you set continuously. Optimizing your sales territory process is not a one-and-done thing.

Always be analyzing when things change, where things could be better, and how you're going to get there. That means shifting KPIs as needed, being willing to admit when a strategy has failed, and working to realign and re-engage your team when their interest is waning.

Start from the ground up: determine the goals you're trying to hit and build from there. Generate a deeper understanding of your customers and your sales team to make the most meaningful lead assignments. A good pairing benefits both your sales rep and the customer in making for a smooth experience. Map your leads, and watch your team excel.