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[Territory] Management 101

11 Jun, 2008 By: Rob Gilbert imageSource

[Territory] Management 101

Working a territory assignment seems like the most basic task a sales rep
could have. Maybe, and maybe not. What comprises a territory?  How many
territories does your company have? How many should there be? Are you limited by
the information you have available?

Helping a sales rep to maintain and properly work within a specific
geographic area or targeted list of accounts will reap rewards for both the rep
and the dealership.  Persistent and consistent follow up by managers or other
reps in a shared account situation will also be a benefit as communication will
be better.


1. Major Account – An account designated as an account capable of
producing either a certain revenue volume or number of clicks per month.

2. Named Account – What it says – accounts divided up by name to
specific salespeople. 

3. Geographic Account – An account in a particular state or zip code

4. High Volume Account – An account capable of producing in excess of
100,000 copies per month in service.

5. Color Account – An account that has the potential for a color
device placement, either business, creative, or production color.

6. Wide Format Account – An account needing wide format digital
printing and scanning – can also be divided into several vertical markets:
Construction, Engineering, Medical, Print for Pay, Architectural, etc.

7. SIC Assignment – Standard Industrial Codes – a list of codes that
can be used to separate accounts into different vertical, manufacturing, medical
classifications, etc.

8. Zip Code Assignment – Accounts divided by postal code and dispersed
to each rep.

9. City / County Assignment – reference above.

10. Street Assignment – Some companies actually divide streets between
salespeople, the left side to one rep, the right side to another.

11. Color Coded Accounts – Territories that are coded by color for
each rep.

12. Common Account Pool – A base of all known accounts that each rep
can access to work specific accounts to closure.

These are just a dozen of many that exist today.  There are many philosophies
on how to allocate opportunity in territory assignments, which is a whole other
topic, but for now let’s focus on how best to manage whatever your territory is
comprised of.

Many companies have some guidelines in place with regard to contacting
existing customers on a regular basis.  It’s also true that each manufacturer
has marketing ideas and bulletins that give insight into how to penetrate a
particular vertical market.  In addition to that, salespeople need to be able to
have some level of creativity and individuality in managing their respective

The following are six ideas on how to help your reps manage their customer
relation data:

  • Create an action plan for current customer contacts

The cardinal sin we commit as salespeople is to sell equipment to a customer
on a 60 month lease and check on them about 57 months later.  Farming an
existing customer can be the most profitable business you can earn.  As an
example, set a target for reps to contact each current customer at least three
times per year. Accounts experience change. The closer we are to the change, the
closer we will be to helping the customer manage their business and will be in a
position to problem solve for them. When customers are happy with us is the best
time to really learn about the inner workings of their environment. As their
equipment provider, we have earned the right to visit them whenever we want.
This achieves two purposes: it allows you to be informed constantly about the
account, and it lets the customer know that you are aware of issues and concerns
as they develop. I was farming an account one time and noticed the potential for
a new placement into the accounting department. I told the controller that I
thought there was an opportunity to help them, but that I needed some
information about a particular OEM’s copier in accounting.  His words to me
were, “You know more about what’s going on around here than I do, just go ask my
secretary for what you need and she’ll give it to you.”  Now that is what we’re
looking for in the sales process. 

  • Identify priority accounts

Whether it’s a major account, a multiple machine potential placement, a
document management opportunity, high volume or color prospect, etc., these
accounts will have their own attack strategy and need to be  identified.  Most
major accounts have to be developed over a longer period of time and require a
higher level of contact involving upper management to win the business. 
Identifying these and planning each month for what next steps need to happen
will be a great benefit to the sales rep.

  •  Identify vertical market opportunities

Different markets have different needs and different types of workflow. 
Categorizing these appropriately will help you find commonality in where your
opportunities are.  Manufacturing, Medical, Government, Religious, and Education
are a few examples.  While all companies are individual, many produce some of
the same document types.  As you build a relationship with one medical company,
for example, you can use them both as a reference and as a planning tool for the
way other medical companies operate.  The rep will also be able to say, “I
helped ABC Company which has a similar business to yours, become more
profitable.”  Accounts want what others like them have.

  • Manage Lease End Opportunities

Both current customers and prospects fall into this category.  How will you
reach prospects in a timely fashion to have a chance at their business?  Are you
effectively calling on your own base of accounts to consult with them on lease
ups of your own equipment? 

  • Identify “High Overage” machines

Many times reps sell a copier to a customer under a particular volume band
and find out much later that the customer is running two or three times the
volume allotted at a significant overage service cost.  The ability to know how
the customer is tracking goes a long way to farming future opportunities. 

  • Identify accounts with multiple printer placements

Many companies are now putting bounties on locating printers in larger
accounts.  Finding and tracking these is becoming more and more important in
today’s market of shrinking margin on the copier.  The ability to add a base of
clicks into your territory can create an annuity for the sales rep and build
tenure and loyalty in your organization.

Identification is only part of the battle in managing your territory
effectively.  You also need to have a CRM (customer relationship management)
package that will help reps cultivate prospects and manage activities to the end
that a sale is made.  A good CRM package will track rep activities, provide
detailed customer data, give access to equipment inventory, provide an avenue
for marketing, help schedule appointments, help reps manage different stages of
the sales process, and more. In order to be utilized properly, a package should
be able to assist the sales rep in communicating with the prospect, filter
through their account base to target specific markets and opportunities, send
sales related letters and marketing info in order to always remain in front of
the prospect, and so on. The ability to see information about current customers
is also important to reps, as it decreases the amount of time they have to wait
to make a decision on potential upgrades or rolling leases, etc.  A good CRM
package will also have roll up reports that managers can use to help keep reps
on track with activity sets and a forecasting model that ownership can access
easily. A program like Compass’ Territory Manager offers these capabilities. 

When you have these components in place for a salesperson, they will have a
much greater opportunity to work in the territory they have been assigned and
have a higher comfort level about how to target and capitalize on specific
markets and industries.  And as reps make cold calls, warm calls, existing
customer calls, they will be confident in knowing that there is a process in
place that they can use to move each opportunity through to a conclusion,
hopefully a sale.  As an old boss of mine used to say, “The plan will work, if
you work the plan.”

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