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Sales Managers, Know the Cost of an Open Territory

January 9th, 2015

Open territories can devastate a year for a sales manager, but sometimes there is not a sense of urgency to fill these positions.  A territory left unattended is open to the competition or just a decline in sales due to lack of attention.  One of the best and most eye-opening exercises I did as a Sales Manager was to analyze the rate of sales decline in open territories in my region.  It was shocking how much sales declined within 30 days.  We were in a highly transactional business, but still with contracts.  Without the attention from the salesperson, the customer didn’t keep the discipline of using us as their contracted partner.  They just went with the easiest choice that day.  This was not great for their company since they were overpaying for a service when they had a contracted lower rate with us and it certainly wasn’t good for us.

I was fortunate enough to have a VP who recognized the problem with open territories and made it the first item on the agenda each week. We, as Sales Managers, were extremely accountable to get these positions filled within 30 days.

Hiring is hard work.  You have to find good candidates, then carve out the time to coordinate schedules and interview and then figure out salaries, offers, start dates, training schedules and ramp up activities.  Sales Managers often procrastinate this overwhelming process.

Here are some ideas for Sales Managers in regards to open territories:

1. First of all, do the same exercise I did.  Analyze (or, even better, ask one of your analysts to do it!) the impact on sales in open territories over 30-60-90 days.  It may not be that bad in your company or it may be worse than you think.  At least you’ll be aware of the time frame you’ll need to operate within.

2.  Make interviewing and recruiting part of your regular schedule.  I used to make sure I had a meeting with prospective candidates once per month.  I was very open if I had nothing for them at the time. I simply wanted to network.  No one ever turned down a meeting and when I did have an opening, I had candidates ready to hire or ready to refer great people.

3.  Anticipate open territories.  If you have an underperforming rep or you get the sense someone may move on (leave or promotion), don’t wait until they are gone to start identifying candidates.  Begin the search, analyze who could cover top customers, who could keep sales processes moving forward, etc.

4.  If you do find yourself with an open territory, make it top priority to fill.  Ask for referrals, get your HR team involved, give yourself a deadline to fill and focus on that deadline.

5.  Develop a relationship with a trusted recruiter that you know and can call as needed.  The more you work together, the more they will be able to identify candidates that will be successful in your organization.  Outsourcing this activity can help you keep hiring a priority without it taking all your valuable time.

6.  Have a Gap Plan for open territories. Rally your team to take on responsibilities in the open territory and reward them for it.  Someone should be taking care of top clients, someone should continue pursuing open opportunities, someone should follow up with a customer who recently had a customer service issue, etc.  Sales Managers should reach out to customers sharing their plan for replacement and their continued commitment to providing service.

Quickly filling open territories was a key to my success as a Sales Manager and something I am so grateful I was taught the discipline to do. Hope this helps you, too.



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Don’t Waste January

January 6th, 2015

I love the start of a new year in sales.  Everyone seems to be ready to get back to work, refreshed from some time off, but also more willing to take a new approach to achieve results or fix problems.  This is a great time to be a salesperson.  Customers are examining how to make the new year better than the previous one and if you can help them do that, then it’s a great time to reach out for a conversation.

Don’t waste the golden moment which is January.  The excuses for not calling customers during January are (1) “I’ll call them after my kick-off meeting“, (2) “I don’t even have my new goals yet”, (3) “They are probably busy after vacation“, (4) “I’ll get my plan together and then start calling people“, etc….

Once February hits, customers like everyone else have often forgotten the feeling of a fresh start.  Don’t miss the opportunity to help customers.  Strike while they are motivated to make a difference.  You’ll beat the February rush.

Become a Meeting to Win Subscriber and get a new sales team meeting topic every week.  Also, energize your team as often as you like with a library of 150+ sales team meeting topics always at your fingertips.

Upcoming Sales Team Meeting Topics

October 29th, 2014

Whew!  It has been a busy, busy Fall selling season so far.  I’ve started a new business,, and am learning so much.  Not to mention, selling my new products is giving me a never-ending supply of sales team meeting topic ideas along with those I already gather from talking with sales and management professionals daily.  So, hopefully, you’re with us because, even though we’ve been in business since 2008,  we are just getting started!

Upcoming sales team meeting topics include Spark Performance, Three Ways to Thank Customers and Don’t Lose Momentum During Time Off.  All three timely and relevant for the upcoming selling season.  Subscribe and get a new topic like these every Friday and gain immediate access to all 150+ sales team meeting topics in the topic library.  We look forward to working with you.


Next Sales Team Meeting Topics – July 25 and August 1

July 23rd, 2014

The Back to School commercials have started, people are on their final vacations of the summer and kids are getting their last few mornings to sleep in. Once that bell rings, it’s back to work for all of us, it seems.  I love summer breaks and even the slower pace of business for a few weeks, but I’m always ready to get back in action.

Two upcoming meeting agendas will help you and your team do just that.  It is time to stop wasting time and focus, focus, focus. The next two topics will help you with that.

July 25th – the sales team meeting topic is about focusing on what you want to accomplish at the end of your customer meetings and using that goal as a way to direct the valuable meeting time.  The outcome will be more productive customer meetings which means shorter sales cycles and…faster commissions and happy customers.

August 1 – This sales team meeting topic challenges your team to stop trying to be everything to everybody.  The agenda will lead them through discussions and exercises designed to clearly define who they are and who they help – complete with scripts for upcoming meetings.  You have to know who you are to know who you will “click” with.  By the end of this meeting, they will know.

Join us by becoming a subscriber at Since 2008 we’ve been helping sales managers equip their teams to compete and win.

Next Sales Team Meeting Topic – Updates and Other Customer Service Magic Tricks

July 11th, 2014

It is not that hard to stand out during a sales process and after you’ve won the business.  This topic will share 5 powerful ideas to help salespeople stand out and then challenge them to share their own experiences.

Better relationships with customers will begin immediately following this meeting.

Subscribe to get this topic being delivered to Meeting to Win subscribers July 18th at 6am.

Next Sales Team Meeting Topic – When To Stop Calling On Your Dream Prospect

July 4th, 2014

The sales team meeting agenda going out to subscribers’ inboxes July 11th at 6am will challenge sales teams to determine when to stop calling on those dream prospects that just aren’t responding with enthusiasm.  It’s so frustrating because you know you could help them, their needs are in your sweet spot and you have great solutions, but they just aren’t jumping at the idea.

We’ll share three ideas for moving forward with these prospects and ask the teams to share their own experiences and debate ideas to try with current dream prospects.  Each team member will leave with a decision on a current dream prospect.

Join the fun at

Next Sales Team Meeting Topic – Pay Attention When Vultures are Circling

June 20th, 2014

This Sales Team Meeting Topic will be delivered to subscribers on Friday morning at 6am, June 27th:

There are times when a salesperson has a sense that a deal or an account is dying in front of them, but they plow through ignoring the “signs” and hoping for the best.  The thing to do is acknowledge the signs and take action to stay in control.

This sales team meeting topic will lead a discussion on how to keep control when vultures are circling a deal or an account and give 3 actions to take the moment the signs are seen.

This may sound like a morbid topic…
The truth is – things can change in accounts, you can lose momentum on deals, competitors can take shots at your clients and so on.  If you recognize and acknowledge the signs, you can take control of your future and turn a negative into a positive. 

Join the Meeting to Win community for this topic + access to 150 sales team meeting topics in our Topic Library and a new, relevant sales team meeting topic like this one delivered to your inbox every Friday morning.


Next Sales Team Meeting Topic – Implement the Laws of Sales Success

June 13th, 2014

Meeting to Win subscribers will have some fun discussing a selling expert’s ideas on sales success during our Summer of Expert sales team meeting series topic being delivered Friday, June 20th at 6am.

At the end of the meeting, they’ll have their own list of the laws of sales success and a commitment to implement one of those laws in the coming weeks.  They will also know what differences they expect to see in their sales results.

Explore, Decide, Implement for better results that week.  Become a Meeting to Win subscriber and get energetic, positive topics delivered to your inbox every Friday morning.

Next Sales Team Meeting Topic – 3 Ways to Make Something Happen

June 6th, 2014

The longer I live and practice sales, the more I believe there are certain forces at work.  I believe that visualization can lead to success, for example.  I also believe that I can make things happen.  I am not at the mercy of clients, but instead when I take action, good things happen.  Today’s sales team meeting topic will provide 3 ways to make good things happen.  These are tried and true practices at play around us every day.

I’ll share one salesperson’s experience and then 3 tried and true ways to make something happen in sales territories.

Meeting to Win subscribers will enjoy some positive, forward momentum when they receive this sales team meeting topic on June 13th at 6am.  Join the conversation and the experience by becoming a subscriber, too.