Sales territory management: Why the best sales ops teams are prioritizing it

Liam Costello by Liam Costello on November 13, 2020
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Sales territory management is a valuable lever in the hands of sales leadership and sales operations teams. It's about optimizing sales resources across geographical areas, which drives improved sales efficiency and sales performance.

Sales territory management is a valuable lever in the hands of sales leadership and sales operations teams. It's about optimizing sales resources across geographical areas, which drives improved efficiency and sales performance.

This year has been highly disruptive for businesses across all sectors of the economy. Company leaders and sales managers have had to embrace new ways of working. For example, according to McKinsey & Company, 90% of sales teams have moved to selling over the phone or via video conference calls. It seems likely that this sales strategy will be the norm for at least the immediate future.

All this change has also pushed sales leaders to do more with less as budgets and lead pools have shrunk.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at what sales leaders and sales ops are doing about territory management. The current climate has put renewed emphasis on efficiency and productivity. As a result, sales ops teams are prioritizing sales territory management and optimization.

What is a sales ops team?

The sales ops team aims to improve sales performance across the board. They don't make sales calls or close deals. Instead, they're responsible for the smooth and effective running of the sales process, and ensuring that each sales rep on the team is utilized to their fullest capacity. It's all about maximizing your resources — how can a small number of people in sales ops impact the productivity of the entire sales force?

Sales ops teams are responsible for reducing friction in the sales process

Among other things, sales ops creates motivating compensation plans, sets challenging yet achievable quotas and oversees territory alignment plans that enable reps to be more productive. They also provide other tools to help sales professionals reach their goals and maximize their compensation. These range from CRM software and pipeline management to route optimization and proposal management solutions.

With the future as uncertain as it is right now, every sales manager should be looking for all possible opportunities to boost efficiency. Territory design and management is often an excellent place to start.

What is sales territory management?

Sales territory management is the ongoing process of creating, aligning and optimizing the geographical territories in which your sales team operates.

A strong territory management plan can ensure that your sales resources are evenly distributed. You can avoid a situation where some reps are overwhelmed, while others don't have enough leads to make their quotas.

The best sales ops teams typically have three things driving their sales territory planning:

  1. Recent and reliable customer data
  2. A dedicated sales territory management tool
  3. Buy-in from their leadership

Good data is essential for any modern sales operation. The sales ops team should ensure that the structures and processes for capturing data are in place. It can then help the department as a whole make decisions about territory optimization based on solid and reliable evidence.

A dedicated territory management software platform like eSpatial takes your data and makes it quicker and easier to draw useful insights from it. It reduces the number of manual steps necessary to create a territory map and also makes it easier to devise balanced territories and manage them at scale.

2020/09/territory Optimizer

But even with good data and reliable software, sales ops teams need management support. A data-led approach to designing sales territories will provide 90% of the solution. As with many projects, the last 10% is crucial. It may not change the design dramatically, but this is where regional sales managers can apply their local knowledge and make the final tweaks. This makes for a better solution and one that is more likely to have buy-in from field reps. If managers can explain to their team members why changes were made, less time will be spent questioning such decisions and more will be dedicated to selling.

How sales ops teams drive success with better territory management

Ops teams can find inefficiencies in how sales territories are organized. With clean data and the right territory management tools, they can help reps and their managers make better use of the organization's resources. Let's look at some of the steps sales ops teams follow to create, align and optimize their territories:

1. Create a sales territory plan

If you don't already have a sales territory management plan, putting one together should be your first step. This is what you'll need to do so:

  • Analyze your market through in-depth data insights. This includes you mapping existing customers and top leads. By mapping this information, you can identify areas where your sales team is underperforming.
  • Segment your customers according to the categories that make the most sense for your team. You might start by separating them based on vertical industry, or by other parameters or common patterns you see in your CRM platform data.
  • Conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis. This is critical to territory management planning, as it will help you highlight the advantages and obstacles in the regions where your reps ply their trade. Through this process, you can identify actionable ways to improve your bottom line.
  • Combine your data to flesh out your plan. All of these insights will help you better define it. In the end, you should outline top territories and underperforming areas, and also set specific goals for your reps.

2. Choose a territory management tool and plug in your data

Sales territory management software is a must-have for modern sales personnel. A key consideration when choosing such a program is how it will fit with your existing CRM and other data sources. After all, you probably have more data than you realize. And when it comes to optimizing your sales process, you need all the information you can get.

You need a solution that lets you, your sales reps and sales managers access, integrate and view data from a variety of sources. eSpatial, for example, enables you to use data from:

Add data from multiple sources like excel sheets or a crm
  • Your own existing platforms: This includes a CRM software like Salesforce, Excel spreadsheets, CSV files and more.
  • External sources: While your own information is certainly beneficial, adding context through data from third-party sources will paint a more complete picture. eSpatial supports data uploads from external sources – we even provide a library with more than 100 free data sets to choose from.

3. Map your territories: Balance and optimize

Your territory management software will allow you to visualize your data. This is often a good way to quickly spot problems and opportunities.

For example, you might notice that your top-performing rep happens to have more big customers in his or her territory than you realized. Or perhaps someone is failing to hit their numbers, but has too many low-spending customers to be able to service them all effectively, meaning that their quota difficulties are no fault of their own.

If sellers feel overworked or that their targets are unachievable they will become demotivated. Sales already has a higher churn rate than many other professions, and bad management could cost you good reps. By balancing workloads across the different territories your reps oversee, you can tackle inequities across the team.

More tips to optimize your sales performance

Sales territory management plays a key role in optimizing your sales process, but here are two more tips for driving higher sales:

1. Keep an eye on your metrics

Data will play a critical role in aligning your territories, but you also need to be sure you're tracking meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) across the board.

To improve your efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and overall sales performance, consider measuring data points such as:

  • Revenues: Including total revenue, revenue per sale, revenue per product and revenue by territory.
  • Existing customers and sales leads. This is especially beneficial if you can do this by location, and create territory maps to match.
  • Sales call data: How often do you visit accounts, and for how long? The ability to correlate sales outcomes to sales actions is critical to fully leveraging your sales resources.
  • Customer lifetime value: The amount of money your business stands to make during the relationship with each customer.
  • Conversion rates: And similar figures from all other points in the sales funnel.

2. Motivate your sales team with achievable, data-backed goals

All the data you have at your fingertips will also help you create realistic, data-driven goals for your sales reps.

As the sales training organization RAIN Group pointed out, having quotas in place for your team is beneficial, but it's important that these are set appropriately.

You can leverage your available resources – including all of the information from your territories and associated management – to create specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) sales quota goals. These will help encourage your team and bring in more deals.

If your sales ops team is looking for ways to drive efficiency and improve sales performance, connect with us at eSpatial to learn more about our specialized territory optimization software. You can also try the platform free for seven days to get an even fuller sense of its ins and outs.


Liam Costello Written by

Liam Costello

Liam is an eSpatial account manager and mapping expert. He specializes in helping businesses solve problems and increase sales through mapping visualization, territory management, route optimization and more. Liam holds a Master's Degree in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing.

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