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Go out and hit some doors…! How to outline and organize a territory for your sales reps to cold call into

4 May, 2004

Go out and hit some doors…! How to outline and organize a territory for your sales reps to cold call into

I don’t know about you, but when I first entered the copier sales business I was told to hit the streets and knock on 40 doors a day. The result, I was told, would be a $40,000 a year salary. As a 25-year-old kid with no experience that income was downright amazing. With the sales manager at my new job showing me how a copy was made and pointing out that my new company had great techs—our service department had even won awards—I was sure my pockets would be lined with cash. The machines were really “feature rich” (whatever that meant—I didn’t even know how to make two-sided copies yet—was that a feature?) and the way that people made a lot of money in this business was simple—they worked a proven formula: cold calls + demos = sales. What else did I need to know? It sounded pretty simple: go out and ask 40 companies a day if they were looking for a new copier and pretty soon I would be making $800 a week. It didn’t turn out to be that easy, but it wasn’t far from the truth either. It actually took me three years to learn through trial and error how to effectively master the formula, which should be structured and duplicated to show other reps as they come aboard your dealership. Getting them up to speed as soon as possible is of the utmost importance. I believe that cold calling in a territory can work—if we prepare enough ahead of time. The first step in preparing to cold call in a territory is to get a list of your targeted prospects in that specific territory. How do you do that? A wise man once told me the first step to making rabbit stew is you first have to catch the rabbit. What’s your rabbit? Is it mortgage companies, law firms or maybe realtors for your color products? Once that’s determined, the easiest and cheapest way to get a list of potential clients in a certain area is to visit the library and see the reference librarian. They are often a wealth of info. They can guide you to reference books that will list your target market (the Martindale Hubbell directory lists all law firms and the number of partners in the firm) and it’s often broken down by county. Now make some copies. Now we have a list of say 1000 names. How do we plan to get to all of those prospects while servicing current clients and not compromising both opportunities? Let’s say that we’re focusing on law firms and we have a list of them in our territory. The next step is to categorize them. Do we want firms with one, two or three partners even or more? What about a certain type of lawyer. Do real estate attorneys make more copies than criminal attorneys? These are all questions that MUST be answered before your reps go out into the cold calling world. Take your categorized list and highlight all of the addresses of your targeted market. Buy a corkboard, multicolored map pins and a map of each rep’s territory. Open up the map and pin it on the corkboard. We can now begin to place our targeted market’s addresses onto the actual street address on the map. Open up the map pins and determine a specification for each map pin color. For example, blue pins are10-partner law firms. Call on them one time per month. Yellow pins are five-partner firms. Call on them once every six months and so on. It’s so important to take the time to place all of your prospects into the map so that you can start to outline your territory and begin to break it down into “calling days”. As you place the pins in the map you’ll begin to see clusters form—office buildings and/or office parks, etc. You’ll also be able to see highways and shortcuts in your territory. This makes it a lot easier to visualize where a rep should head next so precious selling time is not wasted. After the map has been set up, it is important to see what would make logical sense as to outlining the territory into days (one through five and not Monday through Friday). When you are done, you’ll have a board with five territory days outlined. This way, your reps can see exactly where their target market is and how often they should call on those accounts as well as what day to do it on. This whole process (including the library) should take about 3 to 4 hours from start to finish. Let me ask you, how much time is spent by your reps wandering around a town wondering where they should go to make some calls? By outlining a territory for your reps ahead of time, you greatly reduce their anxiety, you show them exactly how to manage a territory and you make the best use of their time during the day.

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