Making quota is a constant concern in sales; in fact, studies have shown that only 65% of field sales reps are hitting their quotas. Sometimes, the solution to this problem isn’t there to be excavated from your quarterly reports; rather, it hinges on how your organization understands and defines one key concept: territory management.

As businesses acquire new customers and existing customers change their purchasing behaviors, sales organizations are under constant pressure to stay in top shape and adapt their territory plans. In fact, research published in the Harvard Business Review indicates that sales can increase by up to 7% purely through territory redesign.

However, manual territory administration and a related lack of foresight into sales results can prevent your business from reacting quickly to internal and external change. This can lead to multiple issues: inaccurate and inaccessible data, disruptive reassignments, low sales productivity, infighting, and turmoil.

When a global pharma company was struggling with those concerns, we developed a plan to update their territory alignments rapidly and get their sales organization back on track. Their story offers a perfect test case for transforming territory management to support your business goals.

  1. Balance your workload

Although your sales department might be looking toward the future, territory plans are too often rooted in past results – resulting in overly standardized workload distribution and an inability to adapt to market forces.

That’s why it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of workload planning. This process can be aimed at maximizing short-term sales by focusing on the highest-performing territories, or it may look to build long-term customer life value by concentrating on existing customers, regardless of their locations.

The key is discovering the optimal sales effort for each account and maximizing sales calls for analyzing each territory’s output and potential in terms of revenue and profit margins over a longer period of time. Doing so can reveal surprising insights about all your territories, from the most fruitful to the laggards.

  1. Go beyond geography

Whether you’re a rookie sales rep or an experienced executive, the first thing that the word “territories” brings to mind is a map. In fact, most articles with advice pertaining to territory management will start with and insist on the importance of geographic coverage. However, defining your territory plan strictly by geography is rarely sufficient.

For instance, the aforementioned client was organizing territories by the zip codes of target accounts – in this case, physicians that could prescribe their products. Yet target accounts are always subject to change – whether it’s doctors changing specializations, new doctors arriving, or existing ones moving to other territories.

Delays in updating the target list were causing misalignment and sparking disputes between reps, so the timeliness of that process was a major concern. That’s where we came in, automating the process of updating the list and accounting for key factors that help reps perform even when geographical data proves unreliable.

Accounting for variables such as customer count and mobility, demographics, and best-selling products can help you ensure that the territories with the greatest potential get sufficient coverage – and that sales leaders make good use of their time and skills.

  1. Provide visibility

Our client’s reps were constantly requesting updated territory information, but the updating process was slow because it was based on emails and spreadsheets, which in turn required internal approvals.

To speed things up, we streamlined communication between sales reps and upper management through our territory communication reports and integrated platform, adding technical capabilities that provide further insights. Our intuitive mapping helps reps pinpoint their accounts quickly and gain a better understanding of their area of focus, and the choropleth features make it easy to visualize sales performance across territories. These powerful tools enable reps to identify low-performing territories rapidly and make better decisions when planning sales visits and calls.

  1. Improve your business process

Efficient processes enable collaboration among salespeople and help them adapt to product strategy updates and other changes.

When you’re building and adjusting the territory process, the input provided by your field managers during the planning phase can prove invaluable. With that in mind, when working with our pharma client, we collected and centralized feedback, then sent consolidated reports to upper management through our embedded workflow engine. Thus, the resulting process was not a management decision, but rather the culmination of the entire sales organization’s efforts.

Following these four rules can help you improve your plan, but sales territory management is an ongoing process. Our Sales Territory Management cloud applications offer the ability to configure and manage complex territory requirements with ease, thanks to flexible business rules and workflows that support exceptions, splits, overlays, and much more.

That means your teams will be able to spend their time and energy doing what they do best: selling!