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For highly successful sales professionals, territory management is not a buzz phrase used in sales meetings; it's a focused planning tool that defines what accounts they will pursue, and when and how they will pursue them. They never waste time on activities that don’t produce immediate, measurable results.

At CloudCoaching International (CCI), we have developed tools and strategies to help sales professionals excel at territory management, and it all starts by clearly understanding the 80/20 rule.

The 80-20 Rule of Territory Management

The overarching goal – the goal that rules all other goals in sales – is to drive revenue. When setting goals as a sales professional, there's no goal more important than that of finding ways to focus quality time, attention and energy on the opportunities that will generate the most revenue back to you and your company.

The 80/20 rule of Territory Management says that 20% of your customer base drives 80% of your revenues and commissions. What does that tell you about the way you should set goals and allocate your time? The answer is simple: you must make sure you are devoting most of your time and attention to developing opportunities in that 20% sweet spot that will drive the vast majority of the revenue for you and your organization.

Ineffective sales professionals often make the mistake of allocating their time equally among all the opportunities, even though most of them won’t generate nearly as much income as the top 20%. This is not to say that it is okay to neglect the rest of your accounts; after all, some of them will grow into top accounts some day. But if you don’t devote an exceptional amount of service, time and attention to your current top accounts, they will quickly become someone else’s top accounts.

So, when setting goals and activities, make sure they are laid out in a way that is proportional to the value of the opportunities. Your goals should reflect A, B, and C priorities based on the value of the opportunity. Once you have established those priorities, you can allocate time and activities around them.

One of the best ways to do this is to map your activities to a defined cadence based on your sales cycle. Let’s say your typical sales cycle is 22 weeks (about 3 months). Your first step would be to determine what tasks need to be done each week in order to guide the opportunity along so it can close in 22 weeks. For example, for each account you need to map out:

  • What kind of preliminary research do you need to do on this account and when should you have it completed?
  • Who do you contact in the account, and when do you contact them?
  • When are you going to update your CRM so that it reflects all activity in a timely fashion?
  • What kind of information and materials do you send out each week?
  • When do you schedule the product demo?
  • What external and internal resources do you need to leverage to develop the proposal, and when do you meet with those folks?
  • By when should you have the proposal in front of the decision maker? 

Based on this cadence, if you have been developing this opportunity for eight weeks, you can look at your schedule of activities and know exactly what to work on this week. Also, if you are in week eight but you still haven’t completed activities you had mapped out for week six, that should be a red flag that either your process or your planning needs to be reviewed so you can get back on track.

The cadence model for setting goals and activities for each opportunity takes a lot of the guess work out of working with each account, because you should always know where you are, where you are headed and what it will take to get there. However, don’t forget to build time each week for prospecting calls and relationship management calls, because they can always lead to new business.