Rule #20 – Develop a Territory Attack Plan

The worldwide #1 sales rep sat in his office in early January and wondered how he was ever going to repeat his record breaking $1.1M sales result from the previous year. And what do they typically do with #1 sales reps? They shrink their territory and raise their quota! So it was in this case. His 600 assigned accounts got reduced to 400 accounts and his quota went up by 20%. What did he do? He closed the door to his office and spent the next 2½ hours that morning developing a Territory Attack Plan. When he emerged he set about executing that plan month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter. By year end he far exceeded his increased quota, hitting sales bookings over $2.4M and was the worldwide #1 sales rep for the second consecutive year.

Let me tell you what I did that January morning in my office.

I obtained a summary sales report from accounting and analyzed my previous year’s sales transactions. I realized that I had been opportunistic and somewhat random in my working of the territory. With 600 accounts, I essentially reacted and jumped at anything that moved while proactively targeting the biggest names in my customer list. Through sheer hustle and drive I generated enough sales to hit that $1.1M
number, whereas at that company no rep had ever sold more than $750K in a year. Even with 400 assigned accounts now, I wanted to blow through that number with a more systematic approach.

I developed a Territory Attack Plan that I have since then helped many companies implement. There are four basic components:

Segment the Territory – Whether the territory is assigned by industry, region, product-line or some other classification, break it down into logical segments. I divided my 400 accounts into groupings by industry, revenue size, bookings amount and history, products installed, renewal dates, new business opportunities, etc. This is critical analysis, but keep it simple. Export the data from the CRM and work with it on a spreadsheet.

Prioritize Target Accounts – Then I used the Account Prioritization Matrix (Rule 19) and developed a two-variable matrix like my shown example that prioritized accounts based on past bookings (first variable) and “guestimated” expected bookings (second variable) over the next 12 months. In a spreadsheet one can sort numerous combinations of appropriate variables based on sales cycle time, product type (renewals, new business, custom). The objective is to generate a top priority target list. I conducted this prioritization analysis on only the top 80 of my assigned 400 accounts to keep my focus on the largest opportunities. I later ran separate analyses on the balance of accounts to further prioritize that batch.

Attack the Targets – I then put together an attack plan that included daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly actions and goals. I was careful to spend the appropriate time on the largest opportunities that made sense (AA, BA, CA accounts) per my assumptions. I used past Activity Metrics (Rule 15) to set a daily/weekly calling plan, monthly proposal plans, quarterly travel schedule, industry events coordination, and marketing campaigns for my territory over the course of the year.

Track the Attack – Finally, I set up my own review and reporting of my key Activity Metrics each month and quarter. I tracked my pattern of activity and the yield of those efforts and made monthly and quarterly adjustments. As for any good sports coach, quarter and halftime adjustments are critical. They are based on what transpired against expected goals. When met or underachieved, evaluation and potential
adjustment are in order. I tracked my attack like a great coach.

I didn’t wait for or expect my manager to do all of this work for me. I relied and directed myself, keeping management informed. It was the self-discipline and self-management that helped develop an introspective sales management view and inspired me to develop and drive my own teams when my management responsibilities expanded.

How’s your Territory Attack Plan?