Sales Territory Mapping: 7-Step Guide to Better Sales Profits
Sales territory mapping is simple, right? You just draw some red lines on a map and you’re good to go.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. In an increasingly competitive world, that method just isn’t going to cut it. You need to factor in smart segmentation, address the needs of different customers, and provide a balanced workload for your reps.
Done properly, sales territory mapping helps you identify and understand customers, improve your sales prospecting, and boost sales team productivity. In this post, we’ll explain the process, the benefits and the 7 steps to success.
What is sales territory mapping?
Sales territory mapping is the process of dividing your market into separate territories and assigning each one to a specific sales rep. These don’t need to be physical territories, they can include industries or account types.
A sales territory map is a visual layout of your clients. It allows you to easily see where customers and prospects are located, and which reps are covering those areas. A map like this clearly outlines your sales targets and resources, helping you create a strategy to reach the right customers and meet revenue goals.
How has the process changed?
Territory plans used to be created by hand, using highlighters to colour-code printed maps. More recently, businesses turned to Google Maps—but the newest development is specialist sales territory mapping software. It removes the manual element and pulls in relevant data to help you allocate territory.
Whereas territories were once assigned by geography alone, the new technology also enables territory mapping to cover many other factors. You can segment by industry, sales potential, or customer type, focusing on customer needs rather than mere location.
The way we sell has changed, too. With the ability to sign documents online reps can now sell remotely. Making it even more crucial that territories are properly assigned.
Why is sales territory mapping important?
If your territories are not aligned correctly, it can lead to low morale, lost sales opportunities, and wasted resources. Sales territory mapping shows you when an area’s too large for a single rep to manage. In other cases, it can help you understand whether an area is too small and over-saturated.
It also prevents any overlap between reps — which improves efficiency and guards against reps poaching each other’s sales! Plus, you can ensure you’re canvassing the right areas, only targeting those prospects who are likely to convert.
An effective sales territory map will help you make informed decisions, such as assigning segments to the most suitable reps based on geography, revenue potential, or expertise. For reps who do make in-person visits, a built-in route planning and optimization will boost productivity, with less time spent travelling and more time selling.
Ultimately, optimizing your sales territories can increase sales productivity by 10% to 20%.
Your 7-step guide to effective sales territory mapping
Our actionable guide can help you get started on your sales territory mapping activities.
1. Use the right tech
As we mentioned, manual mapping can lead to errors and overlaps. The process needs to be digitized, interactive, and measurable—which is where sales territory mapping tools come in. They allow you to ditch spreadsheets and customer lists, as well as automate things like data entry and analysis.
Sales leaders can use the data to distribute prospects and customers evenly, adjust territory boundaries, and reassign reps. Helpfully, sales territory mapping software often integrates with your other business systems, such as a CRM, giving reps instant access to data wherever they are.
Intelligent software can also create new territory structures and scenarios, and update the plans to accommodate new reps and other business changes. All of this saves you valuable time, especially if you use a workflow timeline template to help streamline tasks.
2. Define your objectives
Before you can create your map, you need to figure out what you want to achieve from it. You’ll have specific objectives for sales, such as targets for revenue and volume, or nonfinancial objectives like customer satisfaction. You can keep track of these goals and the steps to complete them using to-do-list apps.
These should also align with your wider business goals.
- Have you defined your long-term objectives?
- What do you aim to offer your customers?
- Which industry trends will you tap into?
If you already have a sales territory map, does it need adjustment? Is it agile and scalable enough to meet future demands like business expansion and new products? Sales territories may have evolved organically due to business and staff changes, rather than strategic priorities. This means that you may need to reset them according to clearly-defined objectives.
3. Evaluate your data
It makes sense to base your territories on data-driven insights, and you can use data visualization to get an overview look and see where you stand. Look at sales data for each territory, and see if any of them are under or over-performing.
You should also determine the value of each account so that you can prioritize them in your sales territory planning. Assess the quality of each territory, and the different strengths of your reps. Factor in your sales team’s typical conversion rates to plan for opportunity and workload.
Evaluate market data as well—for instance, your store inventory management system will tell you which products are popular in which regions. You might also want to check out what your competitors are up to.
4. Understand your customers
When it comes to planning territories, you need as much customer information as possible. You need to understand who your best customers are and identify high-quality leads with a greater chance of conversion.
Sales territory mapping software pulls in and filters the relevant data, enabling you to create territory maps that take your customers’ needs into account. This includes information from your CRM and point of sale programs, showing you customer preferences, previous interactions, and the best times to contact them.
Although sourcing new leads and closing new contracts is a big part of sales, don’t forget about the needs of your current customers. Your team could contact satisfied customers to gain further insights and ask for referrals. (Did you know that customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate?)
5. Segment your market
By dividing your customers and prospects into different segments, you’ll be able to ensure each territory has the right number of opportunities for reps to pursue. Smart segmentation helps you target people who match your ideal customer profile and make sure they’re a good fit for what you’re selling.
The categories you use will differ depending on your business and products. For B2B sales, you might segment by company type and size, department function, or organizational roles. For B2C, you’ll be looking at things like behavioural patterns, location, and demographics –- but don’t forget, you still need to know enough to personalize your approach!
When you know the type of customers you want, and the resources required to reach them, it’s easier to set up sales territories. Make sure you allow room for the company to grow and look out for niche markets that your sales team could tap into.
6. Assign territories
Once you’ve segmented your territories, it’s time to assign them to sales reps or teams. As we mentioned, the traditional method is to distribute territories by region or ZIP code.
Geographical boundaries are still a valid system because they can’t be misinterpreted, but modern software lets you take other factors into account.
For example, you can assign reps to territories that align with their experience level and sales performance history. It’s important to ensure everyone’s workloads are balanced so that reps have enough potential customers. It’s a good idea to involve your sales reps and teams in the assignment process.
You could use your business objectives to automatically balance accounts across territories, but don’t forget to incorporate your sales managers’ input to make sure that territories are equitable. With business continuity management systems you can plan for scenarios like a rep leaving suddenly, or a massive change to the business (such as a pandemic).
7. Measure and improve
Your sales territory map needs regular evaluation to check if everything’s going smoothly. As well as tracking the progress of leads and monitoring customer satisfaction. You should also measure the performance of territories and reps and spot areas for improvement. A SWOT analysis can be useful here – that’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Carrying out regular reviews of territories will also help you respond to changing circumstances, such as prospects moving location or a competitor moving onto your patch. If there’s increased demand for your products in a particular region (which you’ll know from your demand forecasting efforts), you could expand the team in that area.
It’s good practice to build agility into your plan. You could even model some potential scenarios and test out different alignments. However, it’s best not to make continuous changes to sales territories. This could damage relationships and increase the risk of churn.
Sales territory mapping has moved on from hand-drawn maps to tools that can help you boost your sales team’s productivity. With smart mapping techniques, you can segment territories by multiple factors, distribute them evenly among reps, and easily evaluate progress.
As the software tools sync with your other business systems, you can bring in all the data you need—and let your teams access important information from anywhere. If you do it right, sales territory mapping can deliver a better customer experience and drive revenue.
About Author: Xiaoyun TU
Xiao is the Global Head of Lead Generation at Brightpearl, a leading retail operations platform. She is passionate about setting up inventory control processes and innovative strategies to grow sales pipelines using data-driven decisions.
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