Sales Teams Must Focus On Territory And Relationship Management


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Does your sales team have the right focus?

Time and again, we see sales teams focusing too heavily on managing their pipelines and identifying opportunities at the expense of building more effective territories and better relationships.

Based on our benchmarks of hundreds of CRM projects, we’ve identified a number of best practices across the five domains of sales: sales leadership, territory management, relationship management, pipeline management, sales measurement. Top-performing sales programs aren’t good at just one of these areas, but rather all of them. Likewise, businesses that are trying to build better sales programs are best served not by continuing to invest in an area — or areas — in which they already excel, but instead bolstering the sales capabilities that are still up and coming.

Too often, however, we see sales programs continuing to invest in pipeline management — prospecting, quoting, managing opportunities and contracts — while their territory and relationship management programs languish. That imbalance means that sales programs aren’t making the best use of their salespeople, or achieving the maximum possible revenue.

Why Customer Segmentation Is Key To Conquering Territories

One of the best ways to keep your pipeline full — and revenues healthy — is to ensure that you’re always matching the right salespeople with the right activities, customers and accounts. For example, Cloud Sherpas is working with a major financial services firm that sells insurance that companies provide to their employees, as a benefit. The insurer has identified a new market that it wants to target: selling supplementary insurance products directly to employees.

When reviewing this business opportunity, the insurer’s sales management team quickly deduced that the related sales challenge would involve not opportunity management, but territory management. That’s because first, they would need to design annual account plans for each of the companies they were selling to. Second, they wanted to ensure their company had a sufficient number of supplemental insurance products — tied to the needs of different groups of customers — to sell to the employees of its existing accounts.

The key territory management best practice at play here was customer segmentation: ensuring that each sales rep was given the optimal number of accounts to call on, based not just on geography, but also on the demands of the business’s new, high-level sales plan.

While creating that type of territory management plan might not seem like rocket science, based on my experience only about one-third of all businesses actually assign territories in this manner. Most businesses, unfortunately, still assign territories based on some historical, abstract understanding of where their customers might be.

Call Planning Builds Better Relationships

The second key approach practiced by the insurer — and which was also critical to achieving its bigger business goals — involved call planning. For the insurer, that meant ensuring that salespeople reviewed all historical sales activities and intelligence pertaining to any given customer, to develop better account and call plans.

While call planning is a facet of relationship management — sales calls are a cornerstone of building better relationships — this sales capability ties closely to territory management. That’s because you’ll design account and call plans based on how you’re segmenting customers, not least to ensure you don’t have to redesign each individual customer’s account plan from scratch.

CRM Success: Always Identify The Next, Best Step

The insurer’s sales project — and decision to focus on territory and relationship management — is a reminder that the next, best step for any given CRM program depends on the underlying business goals. Accordingly, when embarking on your next sales project, remember to take a big step back, identify the bigger business goals, and then identify which sales and CRM capabilities are required — and which you may need to add — to best deliver on those goals.

Learn More

Cloud Sherpas is one of the world’s leading cloud services brokerages and helps businesses adopt, manage and enhance their CRM investment by identifying desired business goals, finding the right tools and technology for the job, and delivering rapid implementations that remain focused on achieving the desired business capabilities.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Edgar Dacosta.

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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.


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