Building a sales or service territory structure from scratch can be a daunting task and mistakes can lead to intense frustration and lost time. So here are our 5 top tips to help you avoid the costly mistakes and help you build your ideal field sales or service territory structure quickly and efficiently.
#1: Create The Territory Around The Business, Not Your Sales Staff
Sales staff come and go: retirement, relocation or just career progression. So designing territories based on where your sales people live is not a great idea for long term sales force efficiency. Territories will need to be taken over by future staff who could live anywhere within the area.
So sales territories need to be created around the long-term needs of your business such as servicing existing customers - or acquiring new ones - as quickly and as profitably as possible.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Important clients may come with established relationships with their preferred sales staff —so much so that they won’t work with anyone else! In these situations, you may need to assign the preferred sales person to that account to ensure the customer is made to feel valued and their business retained.
#2: Start In The Corners And Work Your Way Inwards
When creating sales territories for the first time, it’s usually best to start in areas where options are limited like the corners of the map. In the UK, good places to create your first territories are Cornwall, Kent, South West Wales or Northern Scotland and then work your way inland.
When you reach the interior of the country, you will have much more flexibility to reallocate Districts or Sectors and achieve the optimum balance of workload or sales potential across your territory structure.
This approach will save countless hours of work, create the most equitable and balanced territories and ensure that each territory will have sufficient revenue potential to be viable.
#3: Always Take Local Geography Into Consideration
Understanding natural and man-made geography is extremely important when creating sales territories. Can you expect sales staff to reach their daily call quota if they need to cross the Highlands just to reach half their client list? Or worse, what if they need to cross the Irish Sea just to see some key accounts?
This is why local geography always needs to be taken into consideration. Failing to do so will result in wasted sales time and frustrated staff, which inevitably leads to lower sales revenue and higher staff turnover.
In the example below, you can see an poorly crafted sales territory. The sales person in territory 11 (red) has to cover Devon but also drive up to cross the Severn Bridge to reach the accounts in Cardiff.
To optimize this sales territory, you would need to re‐allocate Cardiff accounts to the green and blue territories so that the sales person no longer has to cross the bridge to reach Wales.
#4: Use Motorways As Territory Arteries Not Boundaries
At first thought, it may seem logical to use major roads and motorways as territory borders as you can only cross them at motorway junctions or via bridges. However, motorways in particular are high speed routes to the extremities of territories – plus the safest roads to drive on!
Using motorways as arteries allows sales people to reach their accounts faster and more efficiently resulting in more time in front of clients and less time in the car.
This is illustrated in the example below. Here, you see two territories, 6 (green) and 22 (purple). Both sales staff have to use the M40 to reach their respective accounts in Bicester and, as a consequence, pass through each other’s territories on the way.
This is not an efficient use of time and effort. Ideally, we should re‐allocate all the Bicester accounts to just one of the two territories and shift the territory boundary so that just one sales person has access to that section of the M40.
#5: Eliminate Territory Islands
One of the most inefficient territory characteristics is when a sales rep needs to cross someone else’s territory to reach a client! They will literally be driving by someone else’s accounts to reach their own which is clearly a drain on time and resources.
It is not uncommon for sales people to request accounts in other territories because they may be located near their children’s schools or near family. Because they frequent the area all the time they will assume it’s only logical for them to have these accounts.
Although this approach may make sense, you cannot take liberties like this for your sales staff. They will create long‐lasting business relationships and, at some point, they will leave the organization forcing a replacement to take over anyway.
It is therefore always best to ensure all territories are contiguous.
This is illustrated in the example below:
Here, the sales person in the red territory has to cross several Postcode Districts owned by the blue territory to reach the small cluster of red by Dartmouth.
This is clearly not ideal and eliminating these non‐contiguous clusters will help optimize your sales territory structure.
For more information on how to build the optimum sales territory structure, call us today on 0844 808 2495 or download a free 2 week trial of AlignMix and have a play designing your own territories!