Sales territories are the customer groups or geographic districts for which individual salespeople or sales teams hold responsibility. Territories can be defined on the basis of geography, sales potential, history, or a combination of factors. Companies strive to balance their territories because this can reduce costs and increase sales.
The purpose of a sales force coverage (or sales territory) metric is to create balanced sales territories. There are a number of ways to analyze territories. Most commonly, territories are compared on the basis of their potential or size. This is an important exercise. If territories differ sharply or slip out of balance, sales personnel may be given too much or too little work. This can lead to under- or over-servicing of customers. When sales personnel are stretched too thin, the result can be an under-servicing of customers. This can cost a firm business because over-taxed salespeople engage in sub-optimal levels of activity in a number of areas. They seek out too few leads, identify too few prospects and spend too little time with current customers. Those customers, in turn, may take their business to alternate providers.
Over-servicing, by contrast, may raise costs and prices and therefore indirectly reduce sales. Over-servicing in some territories may also lead to under-servicing in others. Unbalanced territories also raise the problem of unfair distribution of sales potential among members of a sales force. This may result in distorted compensation and cause talented salespeople to leave a company, seeking superior balance and compensation.
Achieving an appropriate balance among territories is an important factor in maintaining satisfaction among customers, salespeople and the company as a whole. "Sales potential forecast" can be used to determine sales targets and to help identify territories worthy of an allocation of limited resources. A sales potential forecast is a forecast of the number of prospects and their buying power. It does not assess the likelihood of converting "potential" accounts. Sales potential can be represented in a number of ways. Of these, the most basic is population, i.e., the number of potential accounts in a territory. In a survey of nearly 200 senior marketing managers, 62 percent responded that they found the "sales potential forecast" metric very useful.
Construction In defining or redefining territories, companies strive to:
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