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Change is a subject people either embrace or run away from screaming. OK, maybe it isn't quite that bad, but change is a polarizing subject. As a manager or leader, you probably have run into this a time or two.
How We Handle Change
Early adopters or those comfortable with change will be cheering you on. They'll help in any way they can and can't wait for it to be done so they can move on to changing something else. I usually fall in this first category!
Then, you'll have a majority of your team that sees the change as just an inevitable part of business. They can see the benefits and the pain points. They'll do what is required of them, not really getting excited or upset.
Lastly, you'll have a small number of people who dislike change at all costs. They avoid it, don't like the process and likely will be somewhat negative.
How you help your team adapt to whatever is changing and guide them through the process is part of your skill as a leader. Managing change in your sales territories is no different.
Managing Change In Sales Territories
As technology changes how we do business, companies may find they are able to cover greater distances with fewer salespeople. While it sounds great on paper – imagine the payroll dollars you'll save – you need to proceed with caution.
Managing change in sales territories is often a complicated process. You should evaluate everything before you execute. It involves two of your most sensitive parties – your customers and your employees. These are two groups you don’t want feeling frustrated and annoyed with you.
Sometimes, you might lose a salesperson centrally located in the middle of 2 strong territory managers. You may opt to not replace the rep, but simply divide the territory.
On the other hand, you might have a super high performing sales rep but want to split their territory into two. You see more potential in the geography and having multiple reps allows you to cover your customers better and focus on growth.
It's In The Positioning
How you approach these conversations will often make or break how the rep feels about the situation.
As long as your territory managers have the bandwidth, splitting open territories might be a good option. I encourage you to discuss everything with them both separately first. They may not see it as the “gift” you do.
If a rep doesn’t want a territory, they might give it little attention. Make sure it truly is a win for them – not just more work for a minimal increase in pay.
You'll need to play up all of the benefits and help them with solutions to the downsides if you want the change to be accepted.
Alternately, if you think about splitting a successful territory, a rep may feel they are being punished for their success. You can sometimes overcome those feelings by pointing out the positives:
- reduced travel time
- better focus on current customers, leading to sales growth
- more time to develop prospects and leads
- more manageable workload
- reduced stress
In either scenario, keep the financial implications in mind. If someone takes on more responsibility and territory, you have to make it worth their while. Don't just assume they can take it on for the hope of increasing sales & their commission.
If you divide up a profitable territory, talk about what you'll do for that rep. If they were making $150,000 and the split takes their income to $75K, it's impossible to make that look good. Either figure out a way to make it financially sound for them, or be prepared to replace a salesperson.
Changing up sales territories is a bit of a sticky subject that takes finesse. Keep in mind what your reps need and want and work with them to come to solutions for the best results.
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