4 Tips for Managing a New Medical Sales Territory
A number of sales reps think sales success happens because you can schmooze and are a likable person. There is no doubt those factors can lead to one-off successes, but long-term success in sales is due to strategy and planning.
We are big proponents of starting to plan on day one, which will help set yourself up for success 6-12 months from now. In order to do this, you need to take a step back and relax before you just start driving to all your accounts with a business card and detail sheet in hand.
Planning, specifically, strategically planning, will help set yourself apart from the rest of your sales team and get you on the podium at your company's next awards dinner.
While this list is geared towards sales reps in medical sales, the tips can be integrated into any sales job, whether it be copier, software or pharmaceutical sales.
Map Out Your Territory
“Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” ― Warren Buffett
You will probably never hear this from your sales manager but we give you permission to spend a day in your office mapping out your territory, segmenting your customers and calling successful reps at your company for tips and tricks.
One of the better sales reps we've worked with was adamant about building their business as close to home as possible. Obviously, if you are inheriting a territory that has a bulk of their business two states over, you may not have this luxury, but practically it makes sense to do.
Always think a year or two ahead. If you successfully build up the business away from your home, what accounts will you have left when the company decides to split your territory? This is just one reason why it makes sense to map out your territory and focus on growing your business near your home.
What do you mean by mapping my territory and why should I map it out?
Have you ever heard of a STAR rep? No, not the best sales rep at the company.
A STAR rep is the one who blindly drives around their territory all day and if you look at a map of where they've been that day, it would look like the shape of a star because they've been blindly zigzagging all over town.
We get it, some meetings and surgeries are out of your control, but it makes sense to work your territory and not let it work you.
That is why we suggest mapping out your territory and working in zones . If you have a meeting or surgery in one zone, open up your map on the iPad and make sure you hit the accounts that are close to your meetings before you head out of that zone.
The last thing you want is to look back on the day and realize you missed out on a number of opportunities because you didn't properly plan.
Below is an example of a product from Sales Navigator and their mapping capabilities are much more automated than doing it by hand.
If your company does not have Sales Navigator or the ability to map with Salesforce, we suggest using Google Maps or any other mapping software to plot out your accounts. Enter them on the map and place pins next to each one. Once they are on the map, you can markup the map and create zones for your territory.
This exercise may take a couple of hours but we promise you will walk away with a much better understand of your territory and how you plan to manage it.
Mapping out your territory is just a small piece of the puzzle in territory management. Truthfully, there is only so much benefit to mapping out your territory if you don't break that data down even further.
Many of you may be familiar with a book called "Crossing the Chasm" by Geoffrey A. Moore. The book focuses on selling high tech products during the early startup period of a company and the author describes five main segments related to the technology adoption lifecycle: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.
For many of us, we're not working for startups, but don't worry, there is value in taking some of these strategies and integrating them into a new territory.
We suggest you create a list of your accounts and segment them by revenue. Take the top 5 or so and make them your A accounts, the next 5-10 as B and the ones with low revenue as a C.
This isn't an exact science. The point of the exercise is to get a broad view of where the revenue comes from in your territory.
Once you speak to the previous rep, or have been in your territory for 2-3 months, create a list of all of your surgeons and segment them based on the Crossing the Chasm segments:
- Early Adopter
- Early Majority
- Late Majority
Once again, why?
If your company comes out with a lot of new products and you continue pushing the new products on a surgeon who isn't into new things, you are basically wasting your time with them and need to find the surgeons who are early adopters. Come back to the physician who is a late majority once all his peers are using the product because now he will feel the pressure to use the product so he does not fall behind.
You don't want to be the rep who is spending all their time with their best customers and not driving new revenue. Quotas aren't built by companies to maintain business. They build quotas to achieve growth and you need a mix of business from each segment in order to over-achieve your number.
Identify customers in these segments and you now have targets for both existing and new products and you won't spend your time spinning your wheels.
Once you have this information, planning out your day and week become much less of a crapshoot.
Pick Up The phone
The smartest advice we consistently get when taking over a new job or territory is to call the previous rep and the top 5-10 reps at the company to pick their brains.
Surprisingly, most reps are uncomfortable picking up the phone and "bothering" another rep or they "don't have time" to make these calls because they need to be out "selling" all day.
Remember what we said about taking a day to plan and strategize?
Well, use that same day to make calls because the knowledge you will gain from the most successful reps at the company will undoubtedly prevent you from making many of the mistakes you would have if you didn't make those calls.
A lot of reps out there enjoy helping others because it makes them better and gives them a chance to coach someone new. You aren't bothering them. If you still think you are, call the next person on the list.
Relax and take time to focus on territory management.
Build Goodwill With Accounts
We're sure you've heard the phrase "Always Be Closing" and it either makes you laugh because it's funny or because it's a little outdated.
Yes, you do need to close business. Your paycheck and success depend on it.
However, when you are getting started in a new territory, you typically have 3-5 months (sometimes 6-12) before your manager stops labeling you the new rep on the team.
So what should you do during that time?
We suggest you go build some goodwill with your current customers and create relationships with the accounts who are not currently buying from you.
Unless they need something, don't be pushy and don't try to sell them too hard at the beginning. Unless you start your job in January or February, you probably don't have a chance to qualify for President's Club, so take this time and build relationships with your accounts.
Remember, you don't have to get a purchase order to consider your day a success.
Building goodwill by making extra effort to help a customer in need is selling...strategically. You are selling yourself to the customer by letting them know they can count on you and building goodwill in the process. Customers will be much more receptive to trying a new product if they know they can trust and count on you.
What are some examples of building goodwill?
- Drop off a relatively inexpensive breakfast or snack to the office staff or break room in the O.R.
- Sit-in on a case and don't talk about your product at all unless they ask. If receptive, see if the surgeon is open to walk you through what they are doing in the surgery. They enjoy teaching.
- Offer in-services for hospital staff and the surgeon's office staff.
- If they need something, run as fast as you can to get them what you need.
Remember, if you are new, the expectations are low for you compared to more tenured reps so milk it as long as you can. And don't think you aren't selling. Think of it as strategic selling that will payoff when you need it.
At the end of the day, the most important thing in sales is planning because there are many times where you may not get a second chance, or you may miss out on an opportunity if you haven't properly planned.
SEE ALSO: 5 Great Books for Sales Managers