How to Take Over a New Sales Territory

April 8, 2012 at 7:00 AM

The protocol for taking over a new sales territory depends largely on the type of territory you are moving into. Is this a territory where you will, for the most part, be pursuing new sales opportunities? Or is it a sales territory where you will primarily generate new business through existing logos?

In other words, will you utilize the Hunter or Famer approach? The two role definitions below offer some tips on how to attack each of these new sales territories.

“Farmer” Sales Territory Protocol

Farmer” sales reps usually work primarily with existing accounts, and take on a quasi-consultative role. They are very customer-centric, and nurture relationships and opportunities from within those secured accounts. They cultivate the new sales opportunity through these relationships.

Two things to remember about the Farmer Sales Territory:

  1. You most likely have outgoing sales reps that should be consulted prior to taking over the territory. Since this outgoing sales rep is a farmer, they should be able to offer valuable insight and customer information. It is crucial that you obtain the proper customer knowledge so you  can continue to cultivate the relationship to the point that new sales opportunities can be uncovered and capitalized on.
  2. The outgoing sales rep should accompany new sales reps on a minimum of one meeting per client. It is essential that the transition from one sales rep to another be handled seamlessly and professionally so that the customer is convinced they are still in the hands of a strong player who will always satisfy their needs and behave in their best interests. This will be to the overall benefit of both the client’s and sales rep’s organizations.

 “Hunter” Sales Territory Protocol

New Sale Terrirtory Hunter or Farmer

Hunter Sales Reps are generally those who look to secure new accounts/new logos. These types of sales reps get their energy from winning for new opportunities, and securing this new business for the sales organization. They are charismatic, independent, and generate lots of excitement. They hunt the new sales opportunity.

In the case of Hunter Sales reps, the territory transition can be a bit trickier, and as a result there are more steps you may need to take in order to assure it remains a successful territory in the long run.

  1. The incoming sales rep must spend time with his or her sales manager. It is paramount that hunting reps know the lay of the land before they go in guns blazing. It’s very possible that the sales manager has some inside knowledge about the territory that is critical to properly managing that patch. Or perhaps the sales rep’s predecessor didn’t do something well – good information to have when trying to convert new business.
  2. If at all possible, the new sales rep should meet with the outgoing sales rep. Granted, this may not always be possible, but valuable information can be obtained during these meetings.  Don't miss this opportunity.
  3. Finally, the new rep stepping into the territory should also meet with the sales operations leader. The sales ops leader will have access to the CRM (for example: Salesforce.com), which will educate the sales rep on all of the existing accounts and opportunities in the territory. Additionally, they’ll be able to pull information on the current stage of the sales process for existing opportunities.  The client opportunity stage in the sales process is incredibly important intelligence you should acquire as you start the selling process to the clients in your new territory.

Make no mistake about it – the #1 key to success when taking over a new territory is information. Whether you are utilizing hunters or farmers, all sales reps must know the customer and know the territory before trying to lock down any new opportunities.

Who is the customer? What do they buy? How do they buy? When do they buy? What are their most compelling business challenges?  All of this information will aid in orchestrating the proper sales strategy, as well as leading the client through the sales process in the perfect manner that fits their needs (and yours!).

Got Farmers? Stop by for our next Webinar: Lead Generation Inside Key Accounts, and learn how to cultivate new sales opportunities and secure new business from inside current clients.

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Topics: Sales Analysis, Territory Design

Posted by Bryce Record

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