Sales Territory as a Business
I remember an interview I had for a sales job with Director of Sales who ultimately did hire me, that ended in a very empowering way. This individual, we’ll call him Brad, for whom I had a lot of respect for at the time, (yes feel free to read between the lines), ended the offer meeting in a great way. Taking into account that I was in a remote territory, in a different country to his, where they had never had direct representation, he said something along the lines of:
“Tibor, think of Canada as your own franchise, as long as we gate no complaints and you hit your numbers, you run it in any way that makes sense to you.”
We can argue the general merits of that as a strategy some other time, but I guess he was lucky that I had a plan, not to mention the ability to execute. On the other hand the concept behind his statement is sound; every sales person should look at their territory as a franchise or a business.
That means strategy, planning, securing resources, execution, review, time allocation, execution and yes, execution. Some sales professionals do some of these things; some do all with various degrees of ability and efficiency, but few do all at a high level consistently over time.
It’s not hard to imagine your sales territory as a business; imagine you were trying to secure financing for the business. And let’s face it as a territory rep, in effect you are asking your company to “loan you the territory”, in return for tangible returns, revenue for them, commissions for you. As a company you could never conceive of securing financing without a full and sound business plan, with all the elements that will help the investor/lender decide if you are worth the financial risk.
This involves outlining how you will source new revenues and from where/whom. How you plan to maintain existing revenues and customers and defend against competitors. Your banker will look for solid facts, numbers and realistic assumptions. Few if any can get financing strictly on reputation and faith. As manager, how many times have you heard rep say “leave it to me, you know I can do it”, just before they don’t. But we have seen people who take the time to plan work their plan, adjust when needed, and deliver consistently.
So as you head into the final stretch of Q1, take a look at your plan; review it, see if it reflects the market and your goals. If you don’ have a (business) plan, sit down and draft one and see how liberating it can be to see where you want to go and how to get there.
For a different view on sales planning, join me and the Great Waldo, Daniel Waldschmidt, for a Top Sales Experts Massterclass Webinar, this Wednesday at 1:00 pm. We look at why despite all the resources available to sales organizations and people; they continue to struggle to meet objectives. A recently released summary of the CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization titled CSO Insights Study Shows Major Drops in Sales Performance in 2009 said, “The percentage of reps making quota in 2009 dropped to 51.8% from 58.8% a year earlier. As a result, overall revenue plan attainment dropped to 77.9% from 85.9% during the same time period.”
Yet whenever real changes to this reality are considered, the battle cry has always been: “Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.”
What’s in Your Pipeline?