Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sales Territories in the Internet Age

Territories work by helping people focus, collaborate, and learn to become experts.

That’s the main reason to use territories.


Just 20 years ago being a sales rep for a factory meant a thermos of coffee, a map and a lot of driving. Today it means sending emails, coordinating marketing efforts, sending and receiving floorplans in ‘jpg’ or ‘pdf’ formats, preparing online quotes and using Google to do research.

Many successful sales reps even have territories within other sales reps’ territories as some factories have a commercial sales force that focus its efforts on large projects and developers while other sales reps focus on new home builders within their assigned territories.

Designing successful sales territories is not easy. Sales Managers have been trying to design acceptable territories particularly since the dawn of time.

Coming up a with good territory plan sucks.
  • They will never be perfectly fair.  (Well, life won’t either.)
  • Territories can be a huge pain to design fairly and can be contentious.
  • Once they’re up, they can be a LOT of work (with more contention) to manage and change, and it gets exponentially harder as you get bigger.
  • It’s harder for sales reps to benefit from any close relationships outside their territory.
  • Territories give pessimistic salespeople an excuse to complain about.
  • There can be some awkward client handoffs, such as when a salesperson – after talking with a prospect for a half-hour – finds out the location of the decision-making office is outside their territory, and they need to transition the prospect to someone else.
  • And so on and so on.

But there are things worse than not having territories.
  • Not having some clear cut way for your sales teams to divide and conquer your markets.
  • Things run amuck
  • Sales reps have less focus, less emotional ownership and more infighting. 

By giving sales reps their own “patch” of turf the factory gives the rep more emotional ownership over “their part” of the business.

In days past the Sales Manager would look at the map and try to figure out how to split up sales territories, how to decide which salesperson to send to drive all up and down the highways and which one gets to just drive a few miles around the neighborhood.

Deciding how to divide sales territories to create the most efficient environment for your sales team is more difficult than just drawing lines on a map. The process requires a good dose of foresight needed to make sure you allow room for the company to grow.

Poorly aligned sales territories can cause low employee morale, lost clients and squandered resources. Before the Sales Manager starts carving up the map and sending the sales team out into the world, some time is needed to think about what is trying to be accomplished.

Fast forward to today. With the Internet, a new kind of map is required and entirely new types of sales reps are emerging to fill all the opportunities modular factories have today.

Here are just some of the reps needed today.
  • New Home Builder Sales Rep
  • Builder Prospector
  • Commercial Prospector
  • Commercial/Developer Sales Rep
  • Special Project Prospector (Tiny Houses, Med Cottages, Man Camps, etc)
  • Specialty Sales Rep

The only one of these that needs a very specific territory is the New Home Builder Sales Rep. The Prospectors can have the entire map while the Commercial and Specialty Sales Reps will see their territories adjusted as their sales increase to the point that they can no longer handle the entire map.

None of these reps or prospectors have to pound on doors any longer. They can sell, answer questions, quote homes and projects and prospect all from their desk, either at the factory or from their home.

Getting in the car and driving just to shake hands is a thing of the past. The Prospectors will however be in their cars a lot more than the Sales Reps. They will be visiting prospective clients that have been qualified and vetted online.

If there was ever a place where Millennials can shine brightly, it would be as a factory Prospector. They would flourish in that position.

If your factory hasn’t adjusted the way it uses its sales force in the last 20 years, you may want to begin looking at what you could be missing.

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