Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

You Gotta Know the Territory: Part 1

Today's blog post was written by Troy Oliveira, Principal Developer at Sonoma Partners.

When I was a child, one of my first exposures to the genre of Broadway theatre was The Music Man, in which a brash salesman named Harold Hill was beguiled by the traveling salesman community for not knowing the territory. His story is not unlike that of many salespeople in companies everywhere.  He would roll into town (a prospect) and sell what he could, not fully understanding what he was selling and when he was done, he moved on to the next town. His selling strategy involved getting in and getting out - once he closed the deal, the customer was left on their own to figure things out. There was no hope or even attempt at repeat business or customer follow-up.

Given that you’re reading this post, I can only assume that you have figured out by now that this model of sales is not sustainable and that building a relationship with your customers is an important part of your daily business and sales practices.

One of the components that we help our customers wrestle with in almost every customer engagement is around the idea of territory management.

Very quickly we learn that everyone puts different meaning to the concept of territories, ranging from the strict rules to "parlay" (…more of a guideline, really). Some have singular salespeople as the overseer of the accounts in a territory while others work in teams or have multiple product lines that service the same territory. The good news is that the Salesforce platform provides some really flexible options for being able to manage territories, and lucky for you, that’s the topic of this post.

Sharing is Caring

In this series of posts, I will walk you through some of the high level features, benefits, and drawbacks of the three territory management methods that we work with on a daily basis: account teams, Enterprise Territory Management, and custom solutions.

Account Teams

If we start with the premise that every user has the ability to see every account, and we have multiple people who need to be able to work the account and make necessary updates, create opportunities, etc., account teams are by far the easiest form of territory management that Salesforce provides. 

From a bare-bones perspective, account teams are a list of users who are added on as an ad-hoc basis to each account and as a result, are extended additional permissions for the account and related objects.

Troy territory 1

Don’t let the simplicity of account teams fool you - they are an incredibly powerful tool for extending permissions to accounts and extend abilities that would normally only be available for account owners. Account teams also provide your users flexibility in creating account views. Instead of only having access to “My Accounts," they now have access to filters based on “My Account Teams Accounts,” allowing users to see a list of all accounts which they “own” by being part of the team. This functionality also extends to reporting.

Troy territory 2

Account teams become even more powerful when combined with the concept of default account teams.  Default account teams can be set up at a user level and when an account is assigned to a user, their default team is automatically added to the account. For example, as a customer relationship manager, I have a set of account managers and sales reps that I work with on all of my accounts, I can setup my default account team to include those users and when an account is assigned to me, my team automatically gains access to the account.

Troy territory 3

Beyond simply providing access, account teams also provide the ability to define the user’s role on the account. Account team roles are a great way of distinguishing what the user does for an account. For example, in my scenario of wanting to talk to sales reps who are selling a product that I am having trouble selling, I can quickly determine who the sales rep is for an account that recently purchased the product by looking at the account team and finding how who is in the sales rep role. Another great example of using roles for account team members is when your company has multiple business lines. Organizations can set up a role for each business line and by notating who the salesperson is in each business line, you can provide feedback for purposes of cross-selling when you hear that the customer is interested in a product that falls outside of your business line.

If it sounds too good to be true, it might be. Because this is the most simplistic option for managing shared ownership, there are some restrictions. The very base component of account teams is around providing access, not determining how the account teams are assigned. The overall process of adding account team members is manual and ad-hoc. Even when using default account teams, you will still need another process in place to handle the initial assignment.

Another potential pitfall with account teams is that when the teams are shown on the page layout, anyone who has access to edit the account also has the ability to add users to the account team, though they do not have the ability to extend access levels. This can be specifically problematic when your organization has gone to great lengths to build workflows and processes to ensure that specific people are added to specific account teams. Ultimately, this leads to a discussion around removing visibility into account teams which reduces transparency.

In Summary

That’s a lot of information about account teams. Let me distill it down into some simple pro/con lists.

Pros: Cons:
  • Simple, native implementation
  • Manual process
  • Point-and-click setup
  • No relationships
  • Quickly add team members to accounts
  • Account team members can add new team members
  • "My Account Teams" in filters and reporting
  • Default teams for record owner

Next up in this series is enterprise territory management.

If you have any questions about account teams or need help implementing your solution with Salesforce, please contact us.

Topics: Salesforce