Breaking Into a New Sales Territory

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Any time you change sales jobs or your company decides to expand, you're probably going to find yourself looking at a whole new territory, with new leads to find and solicit. A new territory means you're starting your pipeline from scratch. You don't have the option of getting back to slow decision makers or hitting up customers who've purchased from you before; everyone in your new area is a cold lead.

Know Your Prospects

The first step in tackling that new territory is getting to know your prospects. Most territories are arranged along geographic lines; depending on your company's size and the nature of its products, your territory might be a few square miles around the vicinity of your office or it might include whole countries. Either way, you need to understand what makes the inhabitants tick. In a way, it's like getting to know a new product—once you know what's important to prospects in your area, you can use the proper benefits to win them over.

Hopefully, your new territory came with a lead list or two to get you started. If not, you'll need to do some quick research and identify at least a few leads who might be qualified to purchase from you or pay for a lead list out of your own pocket. The good news about breaking into a new area is that it gives you a perfect rationale for calling up those leads. You can tell them that you're new to this area, you wanted to introduce yourself and get to know “the neighbors” and if possible, you can slide in a special offer or discount as a sort of introductory gift.

Don't Stop Cold Calling too Early

A new territory means you'll be doing a great deal of cold calling. Once the fruits of your labors start to roll in, it's tempting to cut way back on cold calling and focus on all those new appointments you've set up. However, if you give in to this impulse, in a few days or weeks you'll find yourself with an empty pipeline once again, meaning you'll be stuck with yet more frantic hours of cold calls. This behavior pattern is common in sales and leads to the familiar “feast or famine” cycle, in which you either have tons of sales or no sales.

A better approach, once you've started to book appointments, is to shift some of your focus to other activities but to continue to devote significant time to cold calling. This can mean either spending one hour every day making calls, or perhaps dedicating one morning a week to cold leads. As long as you continue to reach out to new leads in your territory, your pipeline will keep flowing with sales.

Keep Organized

The toughest part of breaking into a new territory, especially a big one, is not getting overwhelmed. Keeping organized will help you to stay on top of the action and will also help you to track your progress. Set up a “territory plan” laying out which part of your new territory you'll tackle each week and keep your CRM up to date with your progress. Every lead that you collect and enter into your database is a future opportunity, even if you can't close that lead at the moment.

A territory that spreads over a wide geographic area can cause you to waste a lot of time running from one appointment to another. The trick to minimizing transit time is scheduling appointments in the same area for the same day. If you set aside certain days each week for different parts of your territory, you can keep your driving around (or worse, flying around) to a minimum and have more time to pursue other sales activities. If you find yourself with an hour or two in between appointments, you can always knock on a few nearby doors and collect some more leads.