Lessons Learned from a Hummingbird About Territory Management

Early this morning I watched the antics of a hummingbird. She’d flit up to the flowers, hover for a while and drink her fill. Then she’d fly off about her business. A little later she’d return and repeat the whole process. Except when another hummingbird appeared. Then she’d come back immediately and chase the intruder away.

Territorial? Absolutely. She protects her food source and does it quickly and decisively. If she doesn’t, her competition will quickly consume the available nectar. Is there a lesson for all of us in terms of territory management? You bet there is. If you don’t take care of your customers, your competition will. There’s a lot of hype telling us there’s plenty to go around for everyone. Maybe there is, but I prefer to let the competition have the left-overs. Let the competition be the one fighting for the scraps.

How can you protect your territory? How do you retain and grow the business you already have? The good news? Unlike the aggressive little hummingbird, you don’t have to chase them away physically. Instead, protect the business by taking great care of your customers. Smoother them with such awesome service that they’ll never even look at the competition. Sound difficult? It’s not nearly as tough as trying to find new customers. Savino Longo wrote on Kapost:

It costs 7x more to obtain a new customer than to keep an existing one.

Think about how much you must sell to meet your objectives. Think how much of that volume comes from your established customers. If you’re like most territory managers, it’s a big percentage of your total revenue. It’s worth protecting.

The little hummingbird has a very high metabolism. When she’s active she needs to feed every hour. She can fly at speeds of 35 MPH and her wings flap 50 times a second. Her heart rate can reach 1,260 beats per minute. The average human heart beat is around 70 beats per minute. 

She needs to protect her food source just to survive.  When you think about it, so do you.

Most people in sales have 2 primary functions. One is taking care of existing customers … keeping their loyalty and maximizing their potential. Not always easy. Your best customer is someone else’s prospect. They’re getting offers from your competition every day, so you must work your butt off to just keep them happy.

The other function is finding new business. Unless you’re consistently prospecting for new accounts, you will fail. No matter how well you nurture your existing customers, stuff happens. The market changes or collapses. Companies get bought out. Management changes. Your white knight moves on. There are hurricanes and blizzards. You screw up. Always have a contingency plan to cover the losses.

The hummingbird not only protects her existing food source. She is constantly looking for new sources. Learn from her and do the same. Take care of your current customers, but always be prospecting for new ones. It’s called effective territory management. Here’s what that might look like for you:

  • Have clear sales goals. Know what you need to sell every month.
  • Have a plan. Spell out where the business will come from and what actions you need to take to make it happen.
  • Factor in losses. They will happen, so have a cushion. If you don’t lose anything, you’re ahead of the game.
  • Nurture the hell out of your customers. Smother them with service. Above all, be real. Treat them like you’d like to be treated.
  • Start making inroads on new business. It’s out there but you must earn it.

I’m Oliver Connolly and I help salespeople and sales managers consistently reach their sales and profit goals. To explore how I can help, you contact me at oliver@streetsmartsalesmanagement.com  No obligation, no pressure.

Check out my website for a ton of FREE STUFF on sales and sales management https://www.streetsmartsalesmanagement.com  

Oliver Connolly