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Common Questions and Answers
Whenever you start a new sales job or move to a new region, odds are that you’re looking at a territory that’s equally new to you. Breaking into a new sales territory is a daunting task because it means you’re starting your pipeline from scratch. At best you’ll have a few leads from someone who managed the territory before you and possibly a few helpful network contacts. But for the most part, every lead is a cold lead and it will probably take quite a while to start converting those leads into sales.
The first step in attacking your new territory is getting to know the prospects. Most territories are laid out along geographic lines; depending on your company’s size and the nature of its products, your territory might be spread out over few blocks or it might span an entire nation or two. Whatever the scope, your task is to find out 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 associate those needs with the right benefits statements that will 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 fast research and identify at least a few leads who might be qualified to purchase from you. The good news about starting over in an entirely new area is that it gives you a perfect explanation for calling up those leads. You can tell them that you’re new to this part of the city/state/country, and that you wanted to introduce yourself and get to know the neighbors. If possible, you can also slide in a special offer or discount as a sort of introductory gift.
A new territory and an empty pipeline means you’ll be doing tons of cold calling at first. Once those calls start to pay off in appointments, it will be tempting to cut way back on cold calling and focus on all those new prospects that you’ve begun to develop. The big problem with this reaction is that you give into it, in a few days or weeks you’ll find yourself with an empty pipeline once again, which means you’ll be stuck with more desperate hours of cold calls just to get back on track. This pattern is sadly common in sales and leads to the familiar “feast or famine” cycle, where at any given time you either have lots and lots of sales or no sales.
A better approach, once you’ve started to book appointments, is to shift some of your focus to the prospects who are further along in the sales process while continuing to devote a set amount of time to cold calling. Some salespeople prefer to spend some time every day making calls, while others would rather set aside one morning a week to calling up cold leads. Either system will work if you stick to it. As long as you continue to reach out to new leads on a regular basis, your pipeline will keep flowing with sales.
The other big challenge of breaking into a new territory, especially a big one, is not getting overwhelmed by the scope of your task. Staying organized will help you to keep your confidence intact and will also enable you to track your progress. Set up a territory plan to lay out which part of your new territory you’ll tackle each week, and record the information you collect regularly. Every prospect that you identify and enter into your database is an opportunity, even if you can’t close that lead at this particular moment.
A territory that’s spread out over a wide geographic area can cause to you waste a lot of time traveling from one appointment to another. You can minimize your time spent in transit by scheduling appointments in the same general area for the same day as often as possible. And if you find yourself with an hour or two in between appointments, you can always knock on some nearby doors and introduce yourself.
About the author
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.
As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.