Tom Levers

Building a new Sales Territory in a Start-Up Company?

Posted in BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, MARKETING, Sales by Tom Levers on March 28, 2011

Ramping up a new territory can be both exciting and overwhelming. Exciting because everything is new and you get a fresh start; overwhelming because there is so much to accomplish, often with unknown goals and expectations.

 It is really the difference between Chess and Checkers… or in current video game terms “Angry Birds” vs “Age of Empires”.

Basically, any game of reaction… make a move, and you react in the best way that you know how. On the other hand, plan moves way ahead of time. The best chess players will already know what options are open to them eleven or even twelve moves ahead of time. They think ahead about as many possible contingencies, and plan accordingly. Consultative sales management professionals are like chess players, not checkers players. Specific situations have been planned for many possible outcomes. They never simply react. Before working with a client, they have tried to anticipate many of the potential scenarios that could play out and have a course of action planned for each . This is also the approach needed build a new  territory. 

As a sales professional striving to be the best that you can be, you always need to be mindful of two types of strategies: General, and Specific Strategy.

General Strategy – You need to have a broad strategic plan. The first step to forming this strategy will be to ask yourself what type of sales professional you would like to be. Once, you have formulated the answer to these questions, you will be better equipped to develop a coherent sales plan that addresses these concerns. You now know what you want, but you still need to figure out how to get there. What types of activities are you taking part in that are helping you to achieve your goals? What types are not? Examine every sales habit that you have developed, and open it up to scrutiny.  

Specific Strategy – Having a general strategy is essential, but it should not be so rigid as to become inflexible. Be able to adjust your strategy to meet the specific challenges of each client and each territory. No two sales engagements will happen in the exact same way, so you need to be able to think on your feet. Always try to imagine every possible path that a deal could take, and have an explicit plan mapped out ahead of time for each one. This way you will never be surprised. 

There are 3 key steps .

1. Build a time and territory management plan. Starting out with a new territory is going to seem huge and overwhelming. There will be new opportunities everywhere and naturally you will want to tackle them all at once. Without a plan though, you will waste countless hours.  Failing to set up a time and territory plan in advance is the single biggest mistake salespeople make when starting a new territory. There is no right or wrong way to do this and I advise you to get someone to help you so you get a different perspective. What works best for me is to divide my territory into 4 quadrants – 1 for each day of the week. (I save the 5th day for office work and unexpected opportunities.) Then set your prospecting and appointment schedule up to coincide with these days and develop the self-discipline to stick with the plan. Avoid the temptation to run from one side of your territory to the other chasing “hot” prospects, calmly approaching your quadrants.

 2. Understand what you have. You have no guaranty that the territory you are given has the value assigned and expected since no one else has ever worked it in this specific situation. So come at everything with skepticism and take nothing for granted. If you ascertain the value of your territory independently from past predictions and experiences you will make it possible to establish realistic goals.There is nothing more valuable in your sales tool box than your prospect database. Take time every afternoon to update your CRM with new prospects, call notes, and next steps. Be religious about this and do not end the day until this task is done. Keeping your prospect database up to date is about seeing the big picture and setting yourself up for success in the future. It is about making sure the investment you make today pays off tomorrow.

3. Do a little bit every dayThere is a children’s riddle that asks, “What the best way to eat an elephant?” The answer of course is one bite at a time. You can’t do everything at once. It will take months to fully ramp up. But when you consistently and systematically do a little bit of the right things every day you will be amazed at how these activities build on themselves. Soon you will see the results in your territory grow.


Be a Chess Player! Today, tomorrow and throughout your career. Keep your funnel full and anticipate rather than react. When it comes down to it, the most important element of any sales strategy, is short or long term preparedness. The more thoroughly you are prepared for each sales day and each situation, the better you will perform. The best way to do this is by continually documenting your plan and then execute, while at the same time striving for improvement by continually thinking beyound the immediate reaction.


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