Divide and Conquer: The Art of Territory Management


Share on LinkedIn

An offer you can refuse. Photograph by Marlith.

If ever there was a metaphor for sales, it’s got to be Lefty, a wiseguy in the movie Donnie Brasco, hammering away on a stolen parking meter with a sledgehammer to extract enough change to deliver his weekly “tribute” to the boss. While his peers are extorting, selling drugs and stealing semi-trailers full of razorblades, he’s breaking his back over small change.

That’s such a great analogy for salespeople: We’ve got a boss, we’ve got sales quotas, and if you’re not doing it right and don’t have your territories sorted out, you’re not going to earn. Because, as one of Lefty’s crew notes, “It’s 5,000 wiseguys all chasing the same nickel.” Furthermore, you’ve got finite resources. What’s the best way to deploy them?

Say Hello To Territories

Territory management helps salespeople ensure that they put the right effort into the right activities with the right customers. To do that, territory management relies heavily on segmenting customers and prospects—putting them into logical categories—and then tailoring call planning, prospecting and opportunity management according to these segments, as well as their relative priority.

Why plan? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But about 25 percent of the organizations we work with do no account planning whatsoever. Another 25 percent use a standard template—aka account plan—but infrequently measure their success against it or revise their plan. Only our most advanced clients pursue cross-functional account planning.

Clients with rigorous planning efforts benefit in numerous ways—increasing organizational efficiency, and if handled correctly, sales too—while spending the minimum amount of time and money required to do so. This is beneficial for any organization, but even more so for industries with highly specialized and thus quite well-remunerated salespeople, such as medical device manufacturers.

Best Practices: Territory Management

To increase your territory management proficiency, focus on these four best practices:

  • Customer Segmentation: Categorize customers and prospects and use these categories to prioritize account activities. To be most effective, a segmentation model must comprise two or more dimensions and integrate with a multi-channel strategy (to best reach customers).
  • Account Planning: Develop an annual or periodic plan of activity that is driven by account objectives (as specified by the sales strategy).
  • Cross-functional Collaboration: Team up with other customer-facing functions to jointly meet objectives.
  • List Management: Identify a targeted customer or prospect for a specific action, such as customer communication or a visit.

Territory Management: How Advanced Are You?

Innoveer benchmarks organizations’ sales strategies to determine any given organization’s relative process maturity in that area—namely, whether it’s advanced, lagging, or somewhere in between. Here’s how that spectrum looks for account planning:

  • Initiating: Informal plans built at the discretion of the sales representative, with no process in place or expectations for planning.
  • Competitive: The account planning process utilizes a segmentation model to define how to prioritize accounts.
  • World class: The account planning process is tied to territory planning and aligned with business strategy as well as product development strategies.

Fix Problems First

By benchmarking their current capabilities, organizations can learn which parts of their field sales program to improve first. Our advice? After you benchmark, focus first on making your weak capabilities stronger. This approach will give you the biggest improvement in your overall field sales strategy effectiveness, and thus the biggest return on investment.

Learn More

We often get asked, “What’s the next improvement I should make to my field sales program, to take it to the next level?” Based on its extensive CRM experience, Innoveer has identified the five capabilities that every organization needs to excel at field sales.

In addition, Innoveer offers a brief workshop—over one, two or three days—to help companies identify the cost, time and business benefits associated with achieving new and more mature—which is to say, more effective—CRM capabilities. During the workshop, Innoveer examines the five core elements of an organization’s field sales program, identifies the optimal enhancements, and produces specific, technology-agnostic recommendations for building next year’s plans and budgets, with detailed estimates of the required project time and costs to improve specific elements of your sales program.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here