Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
The metaphoric analysis in this statement is designed to apply to any task that has to be completed in a specific time period. Lincoln reckoned that the preparation required to do any task is just as, if not more, important than the task itself.
So, how can we analyse our sales plans more effectively in order to build confidence in what we are selling and create a firm base of customers for our sales future?
Well, just as Lincoln would suggest, we need to plan our sales territory effectively to give us the chance to expand our business. This planning should then help us amalgamate all our activities into an organised regime.
And what exactly is territory planning? It’s simply the process of creating a workable plan for targeting the right customers, establishing goals for income and ensuring sales growth over time.
What steps do we need to take, then, to achieve a firm foundation for territory planning?
The first is pretty obvious: Review what your current customers are buying from you.
This means analysing your current territory for top performers, evaluating the actual business from the current crop of clients, identifying who are the strongest and have potential for even more, plus the weakest, a listing of your best-selling items and services and a listing of who would be your best prospects for the next time period.
You can also review what your best sales techniques might have been, as you would have been more successful with some presentations than others.
Then, plan who the best customers would be for you to target in the future.
These would be customers you may have found as you’ve been traveling around and have planned to connect with.
You would be best to develop an amount of content that you can share with new prospects before contacting them. Cold calls may well be rejected if you haven’t got something of value to share with them.
As noted above, you can also decide which would be the best way to contact them, so they feel they are making good use of their valuable time in seeing you.
Next, start planning goals, objectives and targets for your territory
To ensure you come up with specific targets for the territories you cover, start by concentrating on the following questions:
- Looking at our sales pipeline coverage, how many new opportunities do we need to add to meet quota?
- Where are most of our new leads coming from?
- Should we focus on geographical areas or are there other criteria we could base our territory searches on?
- Which products are the most profitable? Which customers are purchasing them?
- Which customer segment offers the highest payoff? Are we tapping into that value consistently?
As we are able to assimilate the territory by rounding up on the answers to these questions, we can start to formulate clear goals for our territory.
Goals like ‘Sign up 8 new customers for our new sales blog in the first month’ or ‘Increase the number of served clients by 33% in the first six months of next year’.
These figures would be formed by a clear analysis of the value you can offer in the territory and the potential of the customers you have lined up on the vertical market you are chasing.
Next, work on specific strategies to help you achieve your objectives
This would depend on exactly how you intend to spend your time achieving those objectives. You can work on more content to distribute to certain prospects, followed by connecting and networking with certain key customers, and mixing it with colder calling on prospects who may be new to your territory.
This is where your ideas of customer segments may well be practical to decide upon. Do you work on areas where you have found success in the previous two or three years? Or do you spend more time on strategies that will attract further custom in the 2020s?
Lastly, review how you are doing and use that data to decide on future development of the territory.
Ask yourself if sales have increased in a particular region or niche market? Are there any specific markets where your customers are underperforming or not living up to their sales potential?
These questions and more help you identify where your time should be best spent.
You’ll recall what an aircraft pilot does not long after take-off. They will switch to ‘auto-pilot’ so they can concentrate on other things in the cockpit. You could also ‘auto-pilot’ contacts and networking so that you can spend your time working on improving your content or connections with clients through LinkedIn.
These five simple but profound steps should help you achieve a good sales quota as time progresses. They will help you plan effectively, just as Lincoln suggested, so you can spend the bulk of your time on tasks that will help you control what needs to be done to achieve your end goals more efficiently and without the labour-intensive work that you used to be involved in.