How to be more efficient working remote areas of your territory
I’m sometimes asked how to best manage remote areas of a large geographic territory. This applies to whether it is an ‘airplane’ territory or just a territory that includes more targets outside of a one-hour driving radius.
I am also going to make an assumption here that we are talking about a part of your territory that falls into one of three categories. It is very expensive to visit, you’ve got more opportunity than you can say grace over close to home, or the areas farther away just don’t have as many ‘quality targets’ in it so you don’t go there very often.
Here are six ways to manage a remote territory.
Note: Since ‘airplane territories’ are simply another order of magnitude beyond a driving territory, I’m going to explain the concepts in terms of a driving territory and leave it to you to extrapolate it out for a flying territory.
- The first step is to take a look at a map of your territory and create travel zones that equate to travel times in different directions in reasonably straight lines. Assign a ‘Zone Number’ to each target on your list as to which Zone they fall into.
- Get a calendar out and determine what days you’ll be in which Zones.
- When you begin a Call Block, you can call into any and all Zones without regards to the Zone until you set your first appointment. Just make sure that the day you ask for the appointment corresponds to your plan, and if it is a remote part of your territory, it’s far enough in advance to give you time to fill the rest of the day(s) out there during subsequent Call Blocks. (I use a week and-a-half lead time.) Also, make sure to ask for a specific time of day so that you can account for getting there and back. Once you have set that anchor appointment that commits you to some drive time, sort your subsequent Call Blocks by Zone so that you will be more likely to fill the day and not waste the travel time.
- When you do call into that area trying to set appointments, and you get a no, always ask them for permission to check back the next time you’re back in the area to see if they might have some interest and availability. It is amazing how often people will say yes to this even though they’ve said no to the request for an appointment immediately. I believe part of it is, at least, they don’t think you’ll really call back, so they figure, “What’s the harm?” The point is, though, when you do call back and tell them they said it was okay to do so, the psychological power shifts and you’re more likely to get the appointment.
- Remember, things do come up and people legitimately cancel at the last minute even though they know you’ve driven a long way or taken a plane ride to get there. My rule of thumb when a sales manager was to require my team have at least three appointments when they were going to take a day to get somewhere and back. That way if one cancels, it is still a productive day. You can set your own minimums.
- When you do call into remote areas of your territory, make sure you tell the target you’re going to be in the area on that date and then use the remainder of your normal script. The more remote the area, the more likely people will grant you the meeting. I’m not sure why, but our clients consistently report back that this technique works.
If you’d like more information on the topic of why no team of sales professionals has ever failed to at least double the number of Initial Appointments they were setting after going through one of our programs, give us a call or drop us a line. We love talking appointment making!
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