Most of my professional life has revolved around well-defined geographic territories, defined by state borders or sometimes down to the local zip code levels. When you are developing a sales strategy, why is this a good thing compared to other territory management strategies?

Some benefits:

  • Efficiencies of time/travel expenses
  • Clear accountability
  • Concentration of effort
  • Long term, consistent relationship building
  • Confidence for broad reaching networking and promotional efforts of the territory manager

It never made sense to me to see multiple sales reps spending time (and company money) on long commutes to geographies not in their backyard. In planning for optimum sales force effectiveness, the “local bird gets the worm” is more true than not. A rep who can roll out of his/her driveway and see accounts in minutes and not hours made a lot of practical sense. When it comes to the bigger national picture (much of my life), it made all the sense in the world. When managing distribution for several large manufacturers it became abundantly clear that the account manager close to the account had numerous advantages that translated into better relationships, and hence better sales by being local. The out of town rep covering those accounts could not take advantage of the “ad hoc” events often held by these accounts. The short notice “Happy Hour”, the opportunity to do a “lunch n learn” the next day because another vendor cancelled were a couple of practical examples.

The financial implications are easy to calculate as well. Local travel is cheaper than the drive time/mileage/airfare expense of moving people from far away into the territory. Add to this the less than productive windshield time vs the facetime with your clients makes the “go local“ argument even stronger.

When a territory manager knows he or she is the owner of that patch, they can network and do business development work with wild abandon, not worrying about the activity benefitting someone else. Combine this with the practical side of how many network groups can you join, and not run into your colleagues is also a big plus.

The most common concern in not assigning territories is the fear that many accounts will not be serviced, leaving many accounts uncovered, often the reason companies feel allowing everyone to play in the same sandbox is a good idea. Basic sales management, reporting and metrics will keep this from being a real problem.

Effective sales force management requires not only having the right team, with the right tools, but having the team in the right place for the most effective sales strategy to achieve your growth goals….