How to Develop a New Sales Territory

There are few tasks as challenging in Sales as developing a brand new territory. Fortunately, if you follow a simple two-step process, you success is virtually guaranteed. A Sales Machine reader writes:
I am developing a territory in a new market and I want to make sure I begin with solid research on the number of opportunities as well as the market potential as a whole. I was hoping you could share with me some general rules to live by when approaching a new market and developing out a new territory. I have been in Sales for 5 years in a niche market and I am hoping to approach this new market with a fresher take.
By a fortunate coincidence, I happened to have had a conversation today on this very subject with Dave Stein, the CEO of ES Research, a firm that studies sales training and measures its effectiveness. In that conversation, Dave laid out a two step process that fits the bill perfectly.
  • STEP #1: Thoroughly research the market and territory. The number of opportunities and revenue potential are important, but not nearly as important as understanding how customers in that market and territory prefer to buy your type of offering. For example, some industries have formal RFP processes; some don't. Some territories might work with certain banking institutions to fund their purchases, etc. You also have to get a good idea of what goes on internally during the buying process. The more you know about how the customers in that territory buy, the better you'll be able to execute Step 2.
  • STEP #2: Craft your sales approach to match the buying behaviors. Once you know how your target tends to buy, you must optimize your marketing and sales approach so that it fits. And then hone that approach until you're the best in the territory. For example, if you're set up to answer RFPs, and the buyer generally makes the REAL decision prior to writing the RFP, you'll need to completely rework your skill set so that you get into the opportunity much earlier. Similarly, if you're all about cold calling and the target industry tends to do all its research online and then contact vendors, you'll need to set up a support center to field incoming calls.
Sounds easy, doesn't it. Well, in a way it is, but only if you're ready to do the up-front work, and then make real, substantive changes to the way that you sell. But if you do both, success is almost inevitable.

READERS: Any further suggestions?

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