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Plan Your Territories the Salesforce Way

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, you’ll be able to:

  • List the core steps in territory planning.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of why territories need to be fair.
  • Explain the importance of leveraging data in planning.

Introduction

Planning sales operations for your organization is a daunting task. Who will sell each product and where are they going to spend their time selling? As a sales leader, which metrics do you track? How do you ensure your reps are meeting quota and exceeding sales goals?

This is how: You build smart sales territory plans.

With a well-thought out territory plan defined by growth strategies and metrics, you can bet your sales reps direct their efforts in the right place, at the right time. The last thing you need is your sales reps duplicating efforts across regions. Sure, mapping out a sales territory isn’t a quick task, but the effort is well worth it as you watch how your sales teams evolve into a well-oiled deal-closing machine.

Once you have your territories planned, everything runs itself, right? If only. You’re still required to track your team’s performance to help shape sales goals moving forward.

In this module, top sales leaders at Salesforce share best practices for sales territory planning—the same practices that help them meet their rapidly growing sales targets.

Plan Your Territories the Salesforce Way

When planning your territories, it’s always best to start early (there’s no better time than the present!). If territory planning isn’t already part of your culture, make sure you take the time to get buy-in from your salespeople and leadership before rolling out new plans.

Plan for Growth

“Before the year even starts, we look ahead and cut up all of the territories we are going to need for the entirety of the year, even if we don’t need them on day one.”

—Adam Gilberd, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce

Now that you’ve got buy-in, it’s time to start planning. It’s important to plan territories not only for the reps you currently have, but also for the reps you may hire in the next year. Take a pause to assess the growth you are expecting on your team and throughout the life of each territory. Expand your territories to cover more areas; your reps can take on a few extra accounts across these territories until you onboard additional reps. That way no opportunities are lost and your new reps can take over those accounts seamlessly.

Avoid Disruption

“Once the territories are cut, they don’t change for 12 months. It’s not only about being at capacity—we also prioritize how quickly we can get an AE productive once he or she is hired.”

—Adam Gilberd, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce

Another benefit to planning ahead: You avoid interrupting your sales team’s momentum. Your reps should never be in the dark about where they should be prospecting, nor should they wonder if an account will still be theirs tomorrow. The fewer territory changes you make midquarter, the easier it is for sales to keep up their momentum.

Lessen ramp time

“As we hire AEs, they can jump right into a territory that’s already been predetermined, as opposed to waiting around for a month or two while we decide if and how we can create another territory for them.”

—Adam Gilberd, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce

A well-defined territory plan helps smooth your transitions. Having your desired territories already defined makes it easy to onboard new reps and get them ramped up to sell.

Lead with Data

“We might end up with a rep in Manhattan with three floors of one building in his or her territory. Based on data, that opportunity could be equitable to a rep who has half the state of Montana.”

—Adam Gilberd, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce

Gut instinct is a powerful thing, but think of how much you can accomplish with sharp instinct and sound data. Leverage all that data stored in your CRM to help you better plan your territories. For starters, you can assess new opportunities based on industries. Look at the data and find out how many prospects and customers you have in each territory, and plan accordingly. Now you can be sure you’re assigning territories to the right person, and that you are getting the most out of your territories and your salespeople.

Map divided by quadrants

Be Fair

“We use data to ensure that every account executive has an equal shot at quota attainment.”
—Adam Gilberd, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce

Dividing your territories evenly helps every rep feel like they have a chance to meet their quota, which is crucial to team morale and motivation. A rep who feels shorted or like they can’t possibly meet their goal is likely to disengage, which hurts not only your goals but the entire team’s mojo. Not to mention, you’re investing time and money to train your reps, so don’t you want them to stick around long term? Don’t risk losing them to another company. Divvying up sales territories fairly reduces attrition rates.

Always Adjust

“We’ve gotten pretty good at territory planning over the years, but in the early days we had some situations where the territories got a little bit out of balance.”

Adam Gilberd, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce

Anytime you adjust your sales territories, it causes disruption and can interrupt the momentum of your team. But a territory that isn’t working is disruptive as well. Use your judgement about when a change is needed, and adjust your sales territories so your reps can succeed.

What’s Next?

Now that you have a better idea of how to define your territories, be sure you stay on top of the health of your business. In the next unit, we share the key metrics Salesforce sales executives use to keep their finger on the pulse of sales.

Resources

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