“The only thing that is constant is change.” – Heraclitus
The beginning of the year can be filled with challenges, such as:
- Getting back to work after the holidays
- Preparing for the BIG kickoff meetings
- New products or services in your portfolio
- Changes in personnel
- A higher sales number to hit
As a sales representative these are a few of the hurdles you may face. One of the most dreaded can be a change to your territory. You may need to call on customers and prospects in unfamiliar areas. You may have lost some or all of your pipeline. To make your number you must be able to answer a key question.
“Where should my focus be in my new territory?
Follow the 4 steps and use the Agile Territory Planner to become the master of your domain.
Step 1. Discovery
Information about your new territory is usually available to help you ramp quickly. Don’t recreate the wheel when you have resources to help. Start with the following actions:
- Familiarize yourself with the territory as much as possible. Review notes in your CRM from the previous sales rep and support resources. Get a baseline knowledge of accounts before discussing with others. This will make the process easier on both of you.
- Contact sales representatives who had the territory / customer before. Request copies of territory management information they are willing to share. This can drastically reduce your time spent planning and prospecting. Respect their time and ask if you can assist them in some way. Offer to buy them a drink at the upcoming sales kickoff meeting. (And then expense it of course).
- Set up meetings with managers in the geography last year. Ask for insights on key customers and prospects. Inquire about the representative(s) who held the territory before you. What did they do well that drove business? Who could you call on for quick wins?
- Make the most of Social Media. 84% of B2B decision makers begin their buying process with a referral. Check your existing LinkedIn network to ask for introductions to dream clients. Review the LinkedIn profiles of targets and companies to generate conversation ideas. Finally, make sure your profile is up to date. Make it relevant to your customer by emphasizing the skill sets they value.
Step 2. Planning
The next step is the most important. Resist the urge to jump in the car or book that flight. You need a plan to be not only fast but efficient.
- Conduct a pipeline review to prioritize your customers. Create a stacked rank of targets based on potential. This is your starting point for who to call on first. Consider secondary factors such as geography or sales cycle length. Targets might raise or drop down on your list. Find out if your company has account segmentation data available to help.
- Develop a territory management plan. Finalize your target list based on the previous exercise. Determine how often you need to call on your top targets. Plan your calendar so you contact them with a regular cadence. (Weekly, Bi-Weekly, Monthly) Leave part of your day open for prospecting. Stick to it! Without a plan you waste hours behind the windshield.
- Complete a SWOT analysis to uncover hidden opportunities. Although the entire SWOT is important, pay special attention to the Opportunities. This will provide additional occasions to make your number.
Step 3. Execution
With the pre-work finished it’s time to make it rain. You have a good plan in place you just need to execute.
- Identify and set appointments with key contacts in each account. Your first interactions should be used to determine how your customers buy. What questions do they ask themselves before making a decision? Understand your customers buying process before throwing up solutions.
- Take time to update your CRM. Make changes to your pipeline with accurate information based on client interactions. Record call notes and next steps. Enter new prospects into the system. Connect with targets using LinkedIn. Do this daily to keep it manageable. It will pay off in the future.
Step 4. Iteration
Your territory plan should be a living document. Focusing on the same targets for the entire year is foolish. Update your plan to go from a good year to presidents club. At the end of each quarter identify your customers with poor qualities:
- Difficult to see or contact
- Poor business fit
- Longer than average buying cycle
- Low dollar potential
- Geographically undesirable
Remove these customers from your call cycle and replace with a hot prospect. Decide if it makes sense to nurture removed targets. If yes, make a note to call them later to see if anything has changed.
After you finish with Iteration, go back to the beginning of the process. Review the first three steps and continue to make updates throughout the year. Download the Agile Territory Planner to keep you focused.
“Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.” – Robert C. Gallagher