One of the most important aspects of the work of the Sales Manager is the organization of sales territories and the planning of customer calls to ensure that the optimum value is derived from the efforts of his sales team.

Territory Organization

Let us take first the question of the individual sales territories. If one is selling on a nation-wide basis, it is necessary to ensure that adequate market coverage is achieved. This must include not only one's existing customers but also all potential outlets for the product. One must aim to give each salesman an equitable work load which means taking into account the amount of travelling time involved and also making sure that, wherever possible, the potential volume of sales in each territory will be about equal. All salesmen need the challenge of an adequate amount of potential business. It is a mistake to burden a man with so much routine work in the servicing of existing accounts that he has too little time left to devote to the acquisition of new business.

Above all, however, the geographical scatter of both existing and potential accounts on the territory should be such that the salesman shall have a reasonable possibility of working in a systematic manner. It is desirable that he should live in that part of his territory in which there is the main concentration of customers. Apart from the obvious economy this will provide for the company, in reducing hotel and travel expenses, the salesman needs an area close to his home which he can work in bad weather and when his car is out of commission for the purpose of servicing and repairs.

Leaving aside the question of his personal convenience-which should not be under-rated--the salesman can operate far more effectively when he can programme his calls. His relationship with his customers is improved when his visits are predictable. When a customer knows that he can rely upon seeing the salesman at regular intervals, he has greater confidence in his supplier. He will be more inclined to hold-off ordering from competitive sources and await the salesman's regular visit because he will know, in advance, when to expect him.

If the extent of a territory, geographically, and in terms of existing and potential turnover, has been planned correctly, it should be possible for the Sales Manager to provide the salesman with clearly defined performance standards. These will enable his activities and success to be measured periodically and an assessment made of his progress.

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