How do you create a sales territory plan? It’s not as hard as you think!
If you are trying to help your team better plan their selling activity within their territories, use the Client Evolution Model.
Introducing the Client Evolution Model
The concept of the Client Evolution Model is simple – relationships evolve over time, and there are distinct stages prospects and clients go through.
While every organization is unique and minor relationship stages might change, most companies find that their process aligns with the following major categories.
Suspects are targets who are not yet qualified. Your team member may know a company is in their territory, but they’re not sure if the company has a need for your offering.
Prospects are qualified leads. Your sales reps have engaged their targets, identified needs, and are offering your solutions. Your pipeline stages fit within this category, but the overall category covers all qualified leads.
Customers are companies who buy from you, but don’t necessarily perceive your organization’s value. They may be buying on price or convenience, and they are likely open to working with someone else if they experience any problems, or even if they get a better offer.
If your organization has a one-time transactional sale, customers might be what you aspire for. But if the sales process is consultative, there are three more stages.
As you may have guessed from the previous category, clients are companies who perceive your organization’s value. Unlike customers, they will likely be willing to tolerate higher prices and work with you through challenges.
If you have a highly consultative sales organization, you might find that most of your client relationships start at the client stage rather than as customers.
While all clients perceive your organization’s value, some are more willing to spread the word. These are advocates.
Advocates are the best clients to ask for referrals, testimonials, and case studies. They are often well-networked, and your primary contacts are usually positioned to provide introductions.
This is a relationship stage to aspire to, but there’s still one more.
Partners are companies that have a vested interest in your success. If your relationship were to end, it would hurt both of you – and they know it. They are generally your largest and most influential accounts.
While partner relationships add value, they also add risk, and it’s important to recognize that.
So how do you create a sales territory plan?
Work with your team on a quarterly basis to rank their relationships, then develop a simple sales territory plan. In their plan, they will identify their selling activities at each stage, as well as the marketing and corporate activities they would like the organization to perform at each stage.
As your team develops their plans, roll the corporate and marketing activities up to develop your support strategy. You may need to adjust the team’s expectations if their overall requests are too high.
The sales territory plan looks like this:
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As relationships develop, they move up the ladder. So your reps are planning each month how to effectively service and sell to each category, as well as how to move some people from each category up one or more levels.
Territory planning is one key element in a successful sales approach. For more ideas of how to support your sales team's activities, check out our latest eBook: