Training in the geographies of the territory. One of the first problems a new salesperson has upon taking over a territory, large or small, is that of traveling in an unfamiliar area. This can be frustrating and time-consuming and may cause an inexperienced person to waste considerable time and become discouraged.
While a person is in the initial stage of training to take over a sales territory, he or she should have an opportunity to study the best ways to travel that territory. There are numerous ways a sales trainee can develop an itinerary that will cover a territory efficiently. The trainer need not deal extensively with the techniques used to develop computer-generated itineraries. However, if the company does use a computer for this purpose, the trainee should be shown the principles underlying this procedure.
A valuable exercise for a sales trainee is to use zip code account distributions and zip code maps to develop a plan to cover a territory. First, the trainee should collect all the sales invoices that have been generated in this territory in the previous 6 to 12 months. Then he or she should collate them by the first three digits and five digits of the zip code. Using zip code maps, the person lays out the accounts by distribution and account size in the various zip code areas. Be¬fore long, the trainee will know where he or she should be spending time.
After the trainee has organized the accounts in the territory by zip code, he or she should be required to develop a travel program to cover these accounts efficiently. The district or regional manager to whom the trainee reports should then evaluate this travel itinerary and offer suggestions where necessary.
Completion of this travel itinerary, which will cover the first three to nine months, will offer the trainee a number of specific benefits. It will be a tremendous planning aid, enabling him or her to use time more efficiently and minimize frustration during the first months in the field. Furthermore, management will be able to judge the initial progress the trainee is making by watching his or her ability to stick to this initial itinerary.
Training concerned with prospects in the territory. While determining-the account distribution by studying the sales invoices from his or her territory, the trainee can also be listing the specific products purchased by each account and the names of people shown on these invoices.
Again, many companies have computer capability to generate customer profiles of every product the customer purchases. However, during this initial learning process, the trainees should be required to do this themselves. They will learn and retain far more information about what specific customers purchase if they develop these profiles themselves than if these lists are handed to them.
Most salespeople keep personnel profiles on accounts in their territories. Among other things, these profiles list the key purchasing influences (people) at each account. They also include information such as phone numbers and days the client sees visitors. While trainees are developing product profiles on their accounts, they should be developing personnel profiles and general informational profiles as well. They can do this by taking the necessary names from their customers’ purchase orders and/or their own company’s invoices.
Once sales trainees have a good understanding of the major accounts in their territory, they will have far greater confidence contacting these clients and should be able to converse effectively with them during the initial sales calls. Also, management can be confident that the individual who has a solid background of knowledge on the important accounts in his or her territory will be able to make effective initial sales calls on these accounts.
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Source Training Magazine. Written by : Daniel K. Weadock