HOW CAN WE CONQUER A SALES TERRITORY?
By: Emilio Macasaet III


 

“We have been operating on geographic sales territories for 25 years now. This model allowed us to somehow develop our business but we can’t seem to gain clear advantage versus our competitors. We can’t even dominate in sales territories within our bailiwick as competitors won’t budge even an inch for us to nibble. How can we dominate even on territories near our factories and lord it over our pestering competitors?” - Toby

I wish there is an off-the-shelf answer to that question. In the trenches of increasing competition, there are a number of variables to consider. You can start with your own capabilities and level of determination to fight to dominate. Do you just play to win, or play to dominate? Oftentimes our enemy is our old ways of doing things. Another variable to consider is, of course, your competitor’s capabilities. How they will take an assault and how they will defend their turf. You need to really know your enemy. As Sun Tzu pointed out in The Art of War, ‘knowing the enemy is winning half the battle.’ We can learn from war history of nations and corporations. Take the historical battle of USA vs. Vietnam. The United States being the most powerful nation in the world versus Vietnam, an impoverished and politically isolated eastern country in Southeast Asia back then.  How did a relatively small country manage to defeat one of the major imperialist powers that is the United States?

Never underestimate your opponents because you think you are stronger. How did Honda penetrate the market and eventually beat Harley Davidson? From 1959-1977, Harley-Davidson’s market share went from 83% to 5% as Honda steadily gobbled the market. How did the giant Nokia fall in shocking fashion? Nokia rocketed to the top of the handset market - the biggest growth markets the world had ever seen - to capture 90% of the world’s global profits. How did newbies Apple and Samsung attack and won in the handset market? Whether it’s a fight amongst rival nations, brands, or companies within sales territories, the key lessons are the same. With space constraints, let me share only three tips on how you can dominate a sales territory.

1. Don't be fooled, not all customers are equal. Let’s reframe your question. Instead of wanting to dominate the entire sales territory, choose segments to attack and dominate. When you run after two ducks, you catch neither. Meaning, dominate a certain channel or customer segment only. Do not be naïve, choose your battles wisely. Instead of launching an attack on the whole, attack certain parts only. Not all customer segments are equal, not all of them are attractive for your business. Segment your customers based on their business profile, buying behavior and needs. Segment your channels of distribution and customers within those channels and target the most meaningful segments. Focus your resources in those target segments. This will save lots of your precious resources, time and energy. Strategy is a choice, where (in this case, your target customer segments and maybe pockets of areas within the territory), when and how to play to win.

2. Deploy maximum resources to your target customer segments. Your mindset is not simply to be present everywhere thus dilute your resources, but to gain domination only in your target segments. Your resources include your money, time, people, and energy. Allocate a significant amount of your resources to your target segments. This funneling should bring shock and awe to your competitors. Never give this kind of battle to your midgets. Deploy your best sales people and support team there. The idea is to narrowly focus until you dominate the chosen segments.

3. Your market intelligence must be intelligent. How well does your team collect, analyze, and transform information into intelligence? The rate of change taking place in your sales territories is increasing exponentially. If you expect to keep-up, survive and now dominate in this fast-paced competitive environment, you must know what the competition is doing and not doing. So how do you monitor you opponents? What tools do you provide to enable your sales people to succeed in competitive intelligence? There are various tools, but I suggest you visit the website of SquadZip to learn about this latest productivity platform which will transform the way you use information. The information technology tools and techniques in using them will help you identify events, trends, and other issues that will impact your position in each sales territory. You must continually monitor critical issues if you expect to compete to dominate.

* * *

Emilio “Bong” Macasaet III is a Partner and the Chief Distribution Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc., the only advocacy-based training and consultancy firm focused on marketing, sales, strategy and innovation. For feedback, write to mentors@mansmith.net or log on to www.mansmith.net, for more information.