Having recently purchased a fixer upper home and deciding to do a lot of the renovations myself, I can testify to this variation on Murphy’s Law: most projects end up being much more complicated than you originally thought/planned for. I’ve seen this axiom bare out in business as well, like aligning and managing sales territories—whether for a large, far-flung team in an established enterprise, or a growing startup. It’s rarely as simple as just grabbing a map and drawing lines.

Previously, we’ve offered up a blueprint for the data quality foundation that provides a base on which to build your business. In this second installment we look to build up from that foundation with a framework for territory management. When laying out the rooms in a building, you need ways to distinguish one space from another and give occupants the privacy and room to comfortably go about their business. Similarly, territory management is the process of aligning your sales team across the markets and accounts you sell to, so they can be more productive and comfortable working in their space. A smart territory blueprint matches the goals of the business overall with the sales resources available, and makes the whole house flow nicely.

The following are three factors to consider for your territory plans:

Segmentation Must Haves

The first step to designing a territory management plan is determining how to segment and organize the market to best fit your sales team resources. To do this effectively, you need accurate and complete data on the companies or accounts you sell to. You need a total view of both your existing customers, and the companies that are potential customers. Start by analyzing your best customers and determine the attributes that define them. Are they clustered in certain industries, company sizes, or geographies? Also, are there segments where you haven’t penetrated, but where management wants to invest? What is the addressable market, and what does potential revenue look like at the account level?

To answer some of these questions you need to ensure your account records have company size data (revenue, employees), industry details (SIC, NAICs), geography/address info, and other relevant firmographics. It’s also extremely helpful to have a method for identification of specific account entities amongst similarly named companies (like sister or parent companies). This way, you can attribute the right current and potential revenue to the right accounts that fall in certain segments.

Size Does Matter

Speaking of corporate hierarchies, it’s critical that you’re able to see the full scope of each customer relationship. Company size is more dimensional than just revenue or employees. It’s also about understanding if a company is a single location, multi-location or part of a larger corporate family. There’s a pretty good chance you’re doing business today with customers who have a much larger corporate footprint than you realize. Often it makes sense to organize territories using corporate hierarchies, assigning reps to one or a handful of large corporate families and hunting for cross-sell/up-sell opportunities across business units.

In order to accurately see and carve accounts using corporate hierarchies, it’s crucial to have a way to connect similarly named entities, and sometimes very differently named companies, by their legal relationship. The D-U-N-S® Number is a popular and powerful way to both identify companies as unique and connect them their domestic and global families. You can also use Sales Cloud’s Account Hierarchy feature to organize accounts according to your institutional knowledge or the way you approach the market.

4-Corner Engagement

To finish off your territory framework you need to make sure things are ship-shape and up to the “code” your business and stakeholders have set forth. Your ultimate goal is to create territories that make more, successful, happy customers. To take this blueprint and turn it into the dream house you envision, you need to make sure all your teams, tools, data and processes are ready and trained on the plan. Empower and share successes (and lessons from failures) across teams, but especially with the sales teams. Make a plan to communicate with all levels, and give them forums for feedback. Invest upfront in tools and technology that will aid in carving and maintaining territories so you can focus more on strategy and less on putting out fires. We’ve mentioned the importance of data…devote time, energy and resources to cleansing, enriching and then maintaining data quality to keep the engine running. And when you’ve got the plan ready, make sure your critical processes like lead management, reporting/forecasting, account planning and on-boarding all sync with and reflect your blueprint.

By following these guidelines to create a custom territory blueprint for your business you’re sure to see improvements in sales, turnover, and customer satisfaction.

To learn more, download the e-book we wrote with the data experts at Dun & Bradstreet here: The Data Strategy Blueprint Series: Territory Management »

You can also check out our on-demand webinar cover the same topics here »