Tim Henning is a senior sales leader with over 25 years of experience in the medical capital equipment space, leading sales efforts for Philips Medical, ADAC Laboratories, DFINE and Alliance Imaging. He helped ADAC win the prestigious Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award and has transformed many poor salespeople into winning teams, taking them to the highest levels of sales excellence.

Here are the highlights of an interview where Tin shares his thoughts on the benefits and challenges of managing the sales territory.

How important is territory management compared to all the responsibilities that a sales executive has?

Territory management should be 75% of what sales leaders concentrate, because it includes the strategy and tactics they need to execute to achieve their objectives. The rest are minutiae. But many sales managers would put it at just 10% because they don’t realize the impact it can have.

Why do you think there might be resistance to starting a land management process?

  • At first it is hard work. Those who haven’t probably won’t realize that there will be a huge payoff if they stay the course.

  • Sales teams can be very short-term oriented, so the motivation for sales planning should come from management.

  • In today’s world, sales teams are so busy reacting to all digital information that they don’t take the time to be proactive and really think about what to do.

What should sales leaders do differently to support territory management?

Sales leaders must drive the discipline of using the territory management process by:

  1. Convincing top management and then sales managers to support and use the process.

  2. Engage sales staff to learn the company’s process for territory management and accept that good planning and reporting is expected.

  3. Be there with your team, “lead from the front” and show them how to create and execute strong territory plans.

  4. Make land management and plan review a common practice.

How can a sales leader successfully implement a territory management process?

  • Establish a territory management process and template. This facilitates the generation of effective sales plans. You can do this by creating your own template or by using and adapting one that is commercially available.

  • Provide training on the process, how to use the template to create, and how to manage plans.

  • Make sure the sales management team uses and reviews the territory plans and reports.

  • The most important thing is that you use it yourself.

What examples can you share that show how territory management improved sales results?

Example 1:

I put a new representative in the Houston area where there were no clients, no support people … nothing! I worked with her to create a territorial plan. As he continued to work and refine his plan, his territory became the best performing country for five years in a row.

You may be able to achieve good sales results for a year if you are lucky. However, if you want to produce sustainable results, you must have a plan that outlines how you will maintain your checking account base and add new accounts to generate market share. If you don’t, you will miss out on great opportunities.

Example 2:

The planning process has also helped me allocate resources appropriately. For example, as soon as I took over our European operation, I did an analysis and realized that we did not have a sentence in Germany. So I took the resources from there and deployed them elsewhere, which allowed us to win big in the rest of Europe.

What are your top 4 tips for sales executives and sales managers today?

  1. Make the decision to install a territory management process and become a champion.

  2. Get the support of your senior management and your sales management team

  3. Take the process implementation step by step – small steps will lead to success.

  4. Find a mentor who has been successful in managing the territory and learn from him.

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