Whether you have one or multiple sales teams, when alarm bells start ringing about their performance, it’s worth taking a hard look at the basics of your business.
And even if you haven’t highlighted any immediate problems, every business could benefit from casting an eye over its sales strategy and seeing if a refresh is needed.
One of the most important foundations of a successful sales team is where they are operating – and that means the patches, or sales territories, they cover.
On a company-wide level you may see sales dropping and threatening your business, or your sales performance stagnating and putting growth in doubt.
Your sales teams and managers may even be approaching you with their own concerns.
Delving deeper, you may find that far higher sales are being achieved in one territory, while another is clearly struggling – or that all your sales teams are just not hitting the targets that will make your business a success.
It may be that your teams know there are plenty of customers out there, but they are just not managing to reach them all and land the sales.
This can all add up to wasted opportunities, frustrated staff, and poor sales performance.
But could adjusting the boundaries of your sales territories solve these problems?
The answer to the question is simple – that depends on whether your sales territories were initially set up in the right way, with boundaries that were well thought out and based on intelligence and data.
To make important and far-reaching decisions about how your sales territories are set up, you need a detailed understanding of a vast amount of information such as current sales figures, customer demographics and profiles, business trends, and much more.
Expert software such as Tech4T’s Territory Runner Location Intelligence System can help you make sense of all this data, and present it in easy-to-use interactive maps that enable you to make the right decisions about the design of your sales territories.
But what are some of the factors you need to consider when deciding whether any of your sales territory boundaries need to be adjusted?
As experts in sales team optimisation and location planning, we’re going to outline just a few of them here…
Probably the most important question you’ll need to ask is: ”Where are our customers?”
It’s vital that your sales territories are designed to give all of your teams the best possible access to customers, or you may find that some staff struggle to hit their sales targets.
A change in territory boundaries could make this fairer, by creating sales areas that have an equal number of potential customers that each team can target.
This could also help to avoid sales opportunities being missed when a team has more customers than it can manage.
Do transport systems and geography play a part in how your sales teams perform?
Does one team have a far bigger area to cover or more difficult terrain to negotiate?
Are road links better in some places than others, making journeys more difficult for some teams? The truth is territory boundaries can be redrawn to mitigate this.
Do some of your sales teams have to cope with a far larger number of external competitors than others?
Or are any of your sales teams competing with each other at the edges of their territories, or even within them? If so, it may be better to adjust territories to avoid overlap.
Redesigning your territories will mean sales teams have an equal opportunity to make sales, taking into account the extent and location of rival businesses.
Does the set-up of territories mean that some potential clients are missed or opportunities are wasted?
It could be that there is a far greater concentration of customers and potential clients in one area than another, or that one team is spending far more time unproductively on the road, when they should be making sales.
But this needs to be considered in light of the relative value or potential of individual clients – for example it may be more worthwhile travelling 30 miles to see a high value client than it is to visit five low value clients just around the corner.
But the future sales potential of customers needs to be considered too. Expert forecasting and predictive modelling can determine likely future sales, enabling customers to be segmented by value.
Importantly this also allows a business to understand how much attention a customer needs and which contact methods are right for them. For example, it may be better to keep in touch with some customers through email or telesales, that are far lower cost than a face-to-face appointment with a salesperson.
In addition, understanding trading and buying patterns is important too. Which products or services are being bought and by which customers and how often?
Understanding all this information will mean your salespeople don’t waste time on low value infrequent buyers, but instead focus on those prospects and customers that generate the most sales.
Even if you originally set up your sales territories with the very best intentions, things can change over time.
It could be that outside factors, such as a new housing development or business park, has been built in one of your territories, offering more potential sales or a change in where your target customers are situated.
Or a new competitor could have moved into the area, or there could be a change to the road system, that means it’s harder than before to make sales.
Whatever the situation, it’s vital that your sales territories reflect the facts on the ground and are designed based on the best data and intelligence available. Unless they are, your sales teams are likely to always struggle to make sales and your business won’t maximise its success.