What it Takes to Create a Successful Sales Territory Plan

Territory planning is a critical part of your company’s go-to-market strategy. Without the right sales territories, you risk encountering a number of roadblocks throughout the fiscal year. Reps can be given too many or too few accounts, customers can be left behind, and big opportunities can be easily missed. 

Because of all the challenges that come up during the process of sales territory planning, many sales leaders dread the process. 

Yes, territory planning has its pain points, but there are an assortment of steps and tips you can rely on to make this important process become less of a headache.

Start Early and Assess Often

Start planning your sales territories as early as you can. It seems like a no brainer, right? Well, not always. 

For those who rely on spreadsheets for territory planning — which is 83% of companies — you need to shift your focus to the data that’s stored across multiple systems. Additionally, successful territory planning cannot be accomplished without cooperation from all the moving parts across your organization.

A way to ensure you’re on track is to look at the planning process in phases. Assign owners to each phase of the process, as one step will often require the completion of tasks/data collection from the previous phase. 

Starting early is one thing, but assessing your territories throughout the year is another. You can and should be examining your sales territories throughout the year. It’s not enough to have a “one-and-done” approach when it comes to planning and designing them. 

A successful sales territory plan includes assessments throughout the year of what’s working vs what isn’t working. Now more than ever, we live in a time of constant change. Employees leave, we bring on new hires, and territory coverage needs will shift. 

In your plan, carve out time throughout the fiscal year to look at the health of your territory plan. Doing this will set you up for success when it comes time for any major territory overhaul.

Align Your Teams

As previously mentioned, territory planning often relies on many moving parts. Cross-team alignment is a critical component to creating a successful sales territory plan.

Look at territory planning as a team sport. It isn’t supposed to be an echo chamber for the sales team. If territory planning is approached as a sales-only activity, then you risk running into a whole host of execution and measurement issues.

Include one or two folks from the various revenue-generating teams when you’re going through the phases of the territory planning process. This might include teams like customer success, marketing, and sales ops. 

Use your people. Trust that you have the experts in place throughout your entire organization. These teams will all have a variety of data that can be used to get a better understanding of your company’s successes and weaknesses.

Identify the Most Important Metrics to Balance Your Territories

One of the more challenging parts of sales territory planning is knowing how you should be balancing your sales territories. Each company’s needs might look a bit different, but it’ll always be about the metrics.

Although the metrics you use to balance your own territories will vary depending on the industry you’re in, there are several evergreen metrics that will help you make data-driven decisions and serve as a great starting point, especially if you’re relatively new to the territory planning process.

For instance, you can consider geographic hotspots based on ARR. Annual revenue is usually a safe bet, but it’s vital to optimize based on an assortment of weighted metrics. 

This is the part of the process where you ask yourself the important questions. What is the potential value of this sales territory? What is the possibility of growth? What has been working in this territory? Who is it assigned to? How many people do I have to cover all these areas?

Identifying what’s important will lead you to understanding the metrics that matter most to your organization. When you identify those metrics, you can balance your territories accordingly.

Invest in the Right Tools

Your time is your most valuable asset and, historically, territory planning has taken up a lot of it. But we live in a world where it’s easier than ever to automate whenever possible. And that’s exactly what you can do with territory planning: automate the pain points. 

It can be challenging to align teams, figure out your metrics, etc. Especially when most are working inside of spreadsheets and trying to compare data across multiple systems. Find the right tools to bring everything you need in one place. 

With a territory planning software, the most challenging parts of the process are automated and give you a plan of action from a visual perspective. But you have to make sure you’re choosing the right tool. 

You need something that will support all of your data, no matter where it’s housed. You need something that will work quickly, because conventional territory planning is time-consuming. You need something that will meet you where you’re at and take you to new heights with intelligent optimization. 

In a time of constant change, give yourself the best chance of success with a territory plan that will be flexible, automated, and easily adjusted. 

To learn more tips about building and optimizing sales territories, check out our new eBook in partnership with Pavilion.

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