For wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers with larger sales teams, territory management is key to making sure that sales reps are putting their time and energy where it will have the most impact, maximizing every in-person appointment and minimizing windshield time for low-return accounts.

The process involves effectively segmenting customers and prospects so that sales managers and reps can track sales, do better account planning, and improve sales prospecting strategies.  Many sales teams, however, neglect to do this kind of planning or have trouble tracking sales performance to revise and re-optimize their plans as time goes on. As a result, they miss out on opportunities to increase both sales and efficiency.

Sales Territory Management Best Practices

1. Be systematic to focus on the right appointments.

One of the best ways to go about segmenting your customers is to systematically categorize them, and develop a strategy for each category. Your first group of accounts is made up of your best customers––the ones that require little effort from your reps but generate steady revenue. The second group may be a bit more volatile, but potential revenue gains justify the extra effort required by reps. The third group are those accounts ath require large amounts of effort with relatively little return.

By getting this clear understanding of your customer base, you’ll be able to better position your reps for success and make sure that they’re spending their time wisely.

2. Develop a plan.

Use your customer segmentation strategy to develop account objectives and a plan of attack. How often will your reps visit certain accounts? What looks feasible geographically, in terms of the travel time your reps will have to put in? Are there accounts that you can manage with fewer in-person appointments and a B2B eCommerce portal that allows them to place simple re-orders online?

3. Work closely with other customer-facing teams.

Think about who else in your organization regularly comes into contact with your key accounts. Are the goals of the sales, marketing, and customer service teams aligned? Figure out how to promote better collaboration between these teams to give customers a consistent experience across all touchpoints, drive your objectives forward, and eliminate any unnecessary calls/visits.

4. Think about timing.

Look at sales data over time to make sure you’re in the right territories at the right time. Get a granular understanding of your retailers’ seasonal buying patterns. What are they buying when, and how much? This will help you set better sales goals and your reps will be more productive in the end. You can also align these insights directly with your product development and inventory management strategies.

5. Always continue to reassess.

After the initial planning period, make sure to measure your progress. Keep an eye on how sales are performing by territory and by individual rep to assess whether or not your current strategy is effective. If a particular rep isn’t performing as expected, dig deeper. Are they getting sidetracked? What can you do to improve the situation?

How to Track Performance

So you may be wondering at this point how to effectively track your sales reps’ activities without having to expend an enormous amount of effort gathering data and putting together reports. One way that companies are managing to do this is by digitizing the order writing process.

Brands are arming their reps with mobile order writing software that allows them to access a digital product catalog, customer contact information, order history, and customer-specific pricing from a mobile device. They can write orders digitally, and all of the data can be automatically compiled into useful reports for managers to analyze.

The great thing about these kinds of solutions is that they can not only allow sales managers to track performance by territory, including sales rep and regional performance, they can also enable a separation between reps, so that reps can only see the accounts and products relevant to them. Writing orders and tracking sales digitally can help make the task of sales territory management much easier, allowing both managers and reps to concentrate on strategy, rather than administrative tasks.