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4 Things You Can Do Now To Improve Your Territory Management

Photo of a sales rep in a suit with an illustration of a map behind them: sales territory management
To soup up your selling engine, ground your territory management in data, listen to your sellers, and use the right tools. [Sivu G/]

Learn how to assign the right accounts to the right reps, use data to keep getting better, and drive fairness and growth.

If creating a sales team is like building a car, then territory management is where the rubber meets the road. You’ve agreed on a sales strategy, revenue goals, target customers, and a sales process. Now the moment has finally come for the sales reps to go out and sell.

But not all territory management is created equal. The greatest sales teams are constantly measuring their performance, gathering market insights, and refining their process to get better.

Below we share how you can level up. But first, let’s get clear on what territory management means.

Maximize sales opportunities with efficient territory management

Learn how map-centric territory management, powered by real-time customer and rep data,  can help you stay on top of your sales opportunities.

What is territory management?

Territory management, typically part of a company’s sales planning process, involves assigning territories to sales reps and optimizing them for fairness, customer coverage, and growth. Each territory is associated with a quota and a group of accounts, usually organized by attributes like customer segment and region.

While territory management is sometimes confused with territory planning, they’re different. Territory planning comes first: It’s the act of creating (or “carving”) territories. Then, when you’re ready to drive the car out of the factory, territory management kicks in. Sellers get their accounts and quotas from their managers. The sales team has a distribution kickoff, and sales reps create account plans that outline how to approach their target prospects. Then? They sell.

Sales territory management best practices

Below are the best practices to help you continually improve your territory management, using a foundation of seller feedback, data, and technology. Let’s take a look.

1. Assign territories based on how the sales team sells

When you’re thinking about criteria for territories, don’t just think about customer segments (such as company size, industry, or product). Consider the sales team that’s best suited for them. 

For example, an enterprise sales team might not get assigned a territory at all, but instead, a few enormous hand-picked accounts. Field sales teams who own a larger volume of accounts and sell in person will likely get mapped territories, where accounts are grouped by region and maybe one other attribute, like industry (for example, healthcare companies in Georgia). Finally, a virtual sales team might get a territory that’s not mapped (for example, healthcare companies that are targets of a certain product).

You’ll notice that these example territories are made up of only two attributes. That’s because it’s important to keep it simple. Using too many attributes to define your territories can make it harder to measure what’s working, and can slow you down as you try to adapt.

2. ABM (Always Be Measuring)

Territory management plugs into pipeline reviews and sales forecasting. During pipeline reviews, sales managers will evaluate territory performance by looking at how each rep is performing against their quota. These performance metrics (like win rate, deal size, and revenue) will roll up to sales forecasts as sales leaders evaluate the health of their pipeline against their plan.

“If there isn’t a record of it, it doesn’t exist,” we like to say at Salesforce. Good, clean data is how you catch and act on small problems before they turn into fires. For example, if one of your sellers is struggling to meet quota, you might study the metrics for their territory and discover that their average deal size has gone down. To address this drop, you could focus your weekly coaching on how to bundle products into larger deals until these numbers improve.

3. Lean on sellers for ground-level territory insights 

Invite sales reps to share their intimate territory knowledge with the rest of the team. Sellers, with their feet on the ground, learn something valuable every day. Their bottom-up insights include customer preferences, competitor dynamics, and unique challenges and opportunities.

For example, a sales rep might discover that a new competitor is making inroads with healthcare companies in Georgia, which means you urgently need new messaging and competitive intelligence. Gather and document this knowledge in broader syncs with the rest of the sales team, and in collaboration with product and marketing teams, so people in different functions can work on a solution together. This feedback loop will make your territory management more resilient to changes in market conditions. 

4. Use technology to move faster

One of the biggest headaches for a territory manager is when a sales rep leaves, and all their territory knowledge leaves with them. If you’re using spreadsheets, it can take you a full day to go through the orphaned accounts and reassign them.

But if you’re using sales planning software that pulls in real-time data, you can reassign territories in minutes. For example, our software can track all the different attributes you use to organize your accounts, like customer segment and sales team type (e.g. enterprise or small and medium businesses). With this territory data stored in your CRM, bulk reassignments can be live in a few clicks. 

For another example of how technology can improve territory management, consider the power of AI. Sales consultant Cherilynn Castleman shared how her telecom client, using AI-driven deal insights, discovered a hidden trend: Trucking companies were experiencing a surge in load theft. 

Castleman’s client quickly created a new product to help mitigate this theft, and refined its territory management to prioritize selling it. Within days, the telecom company sent out a swarm of reps to help its customers solve this problem (and drive revenue growth at the same time).

Ready, set, sell

Like sales itself, territory management is a journey, not a pit stop. It’s ongoing. It’s your opportunity to try, learn, adapt, and repeat as your company grows and the market evolves. Once you follow these tips — grounding territory management in data, listening to your sellers, and bringing in tools to help — you’ll feel ready to press your foot on the gas.

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Paul Bookstaber Writer, Salesblazer

Paul Bookstaber is a writer at Salesforce. He has a decade of experience in content marketing in B2B tech. Before that, he published a magazine and ran a tabloid blog. Today, he splits his time between Florida and the Mountain West, and loves to hike, ski, and watch Bravo. He is in a polyamorous relationship with Luke and Roger, who are cats.

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