Tuesday, April 13, 2010

 

A three-step process for effective sales territory planning

Great salespeople have a plan. They have a goal (quota and/or commission) and a specific written plan of how they’re going to get there. Great salespeople do this on their own, but it’s also a worthwhile exercise to ask your sales team to go through at the beginning of each selling period (especially if you’re on quarterly or annual sales cycles).

It’s far better to know, at the beginning of the month, quarter or year, your individual and overall level of confidence for hitting your number. If there’s a gap in sales pipeline, or other obstacles in between you and your goal, it’s better to know that now vs. the end of the quarter.

Smart salespeople look at this level of territory business planning not as a chore, but as a roadmap for how to prioritize their time – how and where they should be committing their own resources most effectively to close more business.

A good sales territory plan should answer three questions:

  1. What do I have?
  2. What am I going to do?
  3. What do I need?

You can do this by breaking down your expected closed business for the period into three parts:

  1. Current Pipeline: What current opportunities do I have that are expected to close by the end of this selling period? Which do I have the most confidence in? Which might be a stretch but are still qualified and more than likely to close?
  2. Leads: What leads am I working with currently that are qualified and likely to become closed opportunities between now and the end of the selling period? These are more long-shots, perhaps, because they’re not as far along. But you still have an expectation that they will close.
  3. Proactive Targets: What are the additional accounts within my territory that I am going to proactively pursue and close by the end of this sales period? This section may constitute the “gap” between your quota and the combination of current pipeline and leads you’re already managing, to give you a big enough pipeline to close & exceed your quota.

As a salesperson, you think first about what you can control. The above three categories put specific focus on what you have, and what you can still do. But there still maybe significant roadblocks, obstacles or needs for opportunities within any of these three areas to get them closed. This is where a good territory plan specifically identifies these needs, at the start of the selling period, as “asks” for others in your organization – your manager, marketing, the product team, an executive, etc.

As the salesperson, you are the quarterback of the deal. It’s your job to leverage whatever resources are available to you within (or even outside) of the organization to help your prospect reach a decision. Your territory plan is a great place to identify specific needs tied to potential new business, which gives the context and motivation to others to help.


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