Territory Planning – Old School or Indispensable?

Jessica Green September 29, 2016

Right now sales teams are hyper focused on finishing the swing on Q3 and rounding third base to reach or exceed their revenue targets for the year. Shortly after the close of the year (after you take half of a deep breath) reps and leaders are taking a step back to look at their new (and likely larger) targets for the coming year. Immediately the wheels start to turn…

What Reps are thinking

  • How am I going to get to my number with the territory I have?
  • How am I going to get there fast so I can make the most of my comp plan?
  • What do I need between activity and outcomes to accomplish these goals?

What Sales Leaders are thinking

  • How do I ensure that my team has the right plan in place so they hit their goals and we can hit target as a team?
  • How do we get the right amount of pipeline and capacity to make these targets attainable?
  • What can I can I expect from Marketing vs Sales in terms of pipeline generation?

For many sales organizations these questions have lead to the annual territory planning presentations. Individual contributors and managers put their headphones on, start to crunch the numbers and then think about the strategies that will help them get to those numbers. The outcome – a plan and a presentation to the leadership team.

What camp do you fall in – are these formal presentations old school or indispensable?

At the risk of being sounding indecisive I fall somewhere in the middle. They are valuable when teams have the right mindset around what they are for and they are dynamic and evolve with the times/tools/buyer’s journey. The pitfalls often start at the top. For example, managers share a slide deck that a rep has to fill out and present it. ‘It just has to be done.’ ‘It’s part of the planning process.’ That may be true but sets the wrong tone. In this world a rep does it because they have to and doesn’t feel empowered by the why. On the other end of the spectrum, the most successful reps I’ve worked with think of their territory and their quota as their own business and just like they would as an entrepreneur, they look at the big picture and create a business plan for the year. They look less at the template and more at the strategies that worked or didn’t last year.

What do I suggest for the folks that believe these are indispensable and want to amp the value your organization gets out of them?

  1. It’s all about the tone you set when you explain the WHY! A phenomenal mentor of mine (Nick Worswick) gave me a piece of advice that will forever stick with me. He said (in so many words) to ‘give your team the credit they deserve. You hire smart people that have the capacity to understand the big picture. Be as transparent as possible when you make decisions’

  2. Instead of providing a set of slides, put together a one sheeter of thought provoking questions. Share this with your team and ask them to come with their initial ideas.

  3. Reflection. You don’t want your team to dwell on the past you want them to take stock in what worked or what didn’t and carry it forward for their plan this coming year.
    • There are company metrics and individual metrics. Reps want to consider both when putting together their plan. For example you want to have the right starting point for key metrics like: Average Sales Price and Stage 1 → Close Won conversion.

  4. Make it actionable! Have a set of sample SMART goals around how you can tackle your territory.

  5. Encourage the team to follow the playbook of what has worked but not to be scared to think outside the box by having 10% of their strategy be exploratory!
    • Think messaging not just numbers. As a sales rep you have had countless conversations with your buyer. It’s the start of their year too – what is important to them over the course of the year? Create campaigns for different parts of the year to kick off with a goal of both value add information that sets yourself up as a thought leader, nurtures your stakeholders and generates pipeline.

  6. Include a social strategy. Check out the Sales for Life blog to get some great tips.

Don’t set it and forget it. Goals may stay the same but you are kidding yourself if you think the plan will stay the same. Things change so check in on the plan quarterly (perhaps during your QBR) and make adjustments.