Time and Territory Management

Double the size of your sales team without hiring a single person

Effective selling is not just about what happens when your team is in front of their customers. The actual proportion of time spent selling effectively depends on several factors:

  • The % of time spent actively selling (vs. other things, including travelling)
  • multiplied by the % of time spent selling to the right customers
  • multiplied by the % of time spent doing the right things in sales calls

Improving time and territory management by a small amount can easily double your effective sales time – the same impact as doubling your sales force, for a fraction of the cost.

Spending the right amount of time selling

There are many calls on a salesperson’s time. Active selling time, which includes time spent planning and executing sales calls, often takes second place to other activities such as travel, internal meetings and reporting. These non-sales activities are important, but we need to manage the time invested in them relative to the investment in active selling.

The first step is to recognise that some salespeople adopt a ‘victim’ mentality when it comes to these non-sales activities. They recognise the issue but often feel put upon and unable to control the drain on their time. Others, on the other hand, believe that they are in control of their own destiny and are therefore far more proactive in managing their own time.

It is worth noting, of course, that time management needs to be applied carefully. Some time management ‘rules’ applied without judgement and team context can have unintended consequences. For example, in deadline-driven environments, someone ‘sweating the detail’ can mean the difference between successful results and a wasted opportunity.

Spending your active time with the right customers

The second part of our equation involves spending your active selling time with the right customers (i.e. those that will give you the greatest return on your investment of time). This requires a combination of territory design and account prioritisation.

  • Territory Design

I am using the phrase territory design here in a broader sense than just the geographic one. Interpreted as “the way you organise your sales team”, territory design is very closely aligned to customer segmentation. Having a suitable territory design and matching salespeople with the correct framework is essential to any sales team.

Even with a perfect territory design, however, each salesperson will still need to prioritise their activities by account. The old 80/20 rule often applies – 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customers. So it’s critical that salespeople don’t waste time on deals that won’t deliver.

  • Account Prioritisation

The basic principle of account prioritisation is to match the time and effort invested in any given account to its potential revenue (or, ideally, margin contribution). However, that potential is actually the product of two things: how attractive a given account is (in terms of size, product mix, etc.); and how achievable it is for your company and sales team.

Ideally, you want to focus on accounts and opportunities that are both highly attractive and highly achievable. However, in more challenging markets (and in more challenging parts of the economic cycle), you will need to loosen the criteria somewhat to allow enough deals to come through.

Doing the right things with those ‘right customers’

The final piece of the effectiveness/efficiency puzzle is the proportion of time (spent in front of the right customers) that is spent doing the right things to make a sale. This is about the quality of selling as well as the quantity – and that means focusing on the customer’s agenda, not yours.

Imparta’s Creating Client Value methodology covers this in detail, but to summarise, all buyers go through a process that is both predictable, and a key driver of what salespeople must do to achieve a successful conclusion.

It’s critical to examine your own business to understand where the greatest levers are to improve your own sales team’s approach to time and territory management. But if you can increase the proportion of time spent selling, focus that time on the right customers, and make sure the time is being used correctly, you can literally double the size of your sales team without hiring a single person.

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