Do you manage a field sales team?
If the answer is “yes,” you definitely need a sales route planner, also known as a sales route app. This kind of tool will help you plan the most efficient routes for your field reps, minimize expenses, keep track of your team, and more.
In this article, we’ll explain what sales route planning is, the benefits of this tool (in greater detail than above,) the challenges associated with route planning, common ways to plan routes, and why SPOTIO is the ultimate sales route planner.
We have a lot to get to, so let’s dive in and get started!
What is sales route planning?
It’s pretty simple: sales route planning is the act of planning sales routes.
This task is typically completed by sales management professionals. The goal? To minimize the amount of time that field sales reps spend traveling from one lead to the next. By finding the shortest routes between prospects, sales managers can boost the efficiency and profitability of their teams.
Route planning for sales reps may sound simple, but it’s not. It’s a complicated problem that some of the world’s greatest minds have studied for decades.
Fortunately, modern technology allows sales managers to create effective sales routes in a matter of seconds. With this kind of tool in your company’s tech stack, you’ll easily boost the productivity levels of your field sales reps.
Why should you plan sales routes?
You don’t have to plan sales routes. You could let your reps run wild, visiting whichever prospect they want, whenever they want to visit them. But sales route optimization has many benefits. Here are a few of the most important ones:
- Better productivity: Sales route planning will minimize “windshield time” and help your reps visit more prospects whenever they enter the field.
- Fewer expenses: Greater productivity has monetary advantages, too. Proper sales routes will create extra sales opportunities and help lower travel costs.
- Greater flexibility: Sometimes prospects cancel their appointments at the last minute. A sales route app (more on this below) will make it easy for field reps to adjust their plans on the fly and recapture lost time.
- Managerial oversight: Finally, a well-designed sales route will help management pros keep track of their reps in the field. You’ll never have to wonder, “Where’s my team?” You’ll just look at the route you planned.
Sales route planning is clearly beneficial. But there are a few challenges associated with them that you need to be aware of. Let’s talk more about that…
Biggest route planning challenges
Sales route optimization is about more than getting reps from one prospect to the next in a timely manner. It’s about getting the right rep to the right location, in a way that furthers overarching sales goals, while accounting for the unexpected.
The right reps
Each of your field reps has different strengths and skill sets, which need to be considered during the sales rep route planning process.
You wouldn’t want to send a newbie rep to handle a major account, would you? Of course not. Your sales route planning efforts need to account for this challenge.
Overarching sales goals
You need to bring in new customers. You also need to satisfy the customers you already have and inspire loyalty. To do this, your field reps should probably visit current customers from time to time, too.
It can be challenging to plan routes that allow reps to venture into new territories, while reconnecting with folks in old ones. But you must solve this sales route mapping challenge to achieve your overarching sales goals.
A well-designed sales route will get your field reps where they need to go. But don’t forget, they actually need to talk to prospects/customers once they get there.
The sales routes you plan need to allow for meeting times. They also need to allow reps to meet with high-value prospects at the most opportune moments. This is tricky to pull off, but essential to the success of your field sales team.
Does anything ever go exactly as planned? Not in sales…
Prospects cancel meetings. Field reps experience car trouble and traffic delays. The weather may prevent both prospects and reps from reaching designated meeting spots. The truth is, a million things can go wrong and ruin your sales routes.
The way your field sales team deals with the unexpected is important. Luckily, the way you plan your sales routes can make the unexpected easier to deal with.
Common methods used to map sales routes
We’ve covered the benefits of sales route mapping, as well as the challenges standing in your way. Now, let’s talk about the different methods you can use to plan efficient routes for your field reps. There are three worth mentioning:
You could plan sales routes using a spreadsheet tool like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. We definitely wouldn’t recommend this method, though.
Sales route planning via spreadsheets is extremely tedious and time-consuming. It’s also largely ineffective because it won’t allow you to determine the most efficient routes between prospects or prioritize high-value leads.
The spreadsheet method also makes it difficult to adjust to unexpected situations, which, as we discussed above, is a common challenge.
When it comes to sales route planning, Google Maps is a much better tool than a spreadsheet because it will actually help reps get from point A to Point B. It’s not the perfect solution, however. Google Maps won’t let you:
- Automatically modify routes: What happens if a prospect cancels a meeting? Google Maps doesn’t allow users to automatically modify routes, which means your reps will lose time and waste money in the field.
- Track reps in real time: As a sales manager, you like to know where your reps are in the field. It helps you keep track of your team and their progress towards goals. Google Maps doesn’t have rep tracking features.
- Upload many addresses at one time: How many prospects do your reps visit on a daily basis? 20 prospects? 30 prospects? More? With Google Maps, you have to upload every address manually, which wastes time.
Sales route planner
When it comes to sales routing planning, the best tool is an actual sales route app. These solutions were specifically designed to optimize sales routes. Therefore, they tend to be equipped with the features one needs to effectively complete this task.
A sales route planner will help your field reps get from point A to point B in the most efficient manner. It will also allow you to prioritize specific prospects, easily adjust routes at the drop of a hat, and input multiple addresses at once.
The best part about sales route apps is their ease of use. You don’t have to think long and hard about which prospects your reps should visit and when. You simply input information into the tool and let it devise an optimized route for you. Win!
How SPOTIO’s sales route planner supercharges rep productivity
When it comes to sales route planners, you can’t go wrong with SPOTIO. Our platform has all of the features you need to design efficient routes. With it you can:
Quickly map multi-stop sales routes
Plug each and every one of your rep’s stops into SPOTIO. Then sit back and let us do the hard work of optimizing sales routes. Yup, it’s really that easy.
If you really want to boost your productivity, use our lassoing feature, which will allow you to “lasso” pins on a map with your computer mouse or finger (for touchscreen devices.) SPOTIO will then automatically find the most efficient route between each of the pins, i.e. prospects and customers, you’ve lassoed.
Integrate sales maps with your CRM
Your CRM is the backbone of your sales department. So doesn’t it make sense to use a sales route app that integrates with your most important sales tool?
SPOTIO will connect with your CRM of choice. Once this happens, you’ll be able to make better business decisions because you’ll have easy access to essential data.
Your reps won’t have to worry about manual data entry either. SPOTIO will automatically update your CRM with important field sales data in real time.
Populate maps with pipeline data
Because SPOTIO integrates with your CRM of choice, you’ll be able to populate your route maps with the most important pipeline data.
This pipeline data includes information about who’s a prospect and who’s already a customer, which prospect and/or customer is the highest priority, when your reps last visited said prospects and customers, and a whole lot more.
Plan routes with multiple scheduling criteria
As we’ve already discussed, a sales route app will help you optimize your reps’ travel schedules, assuring they spend more time in meetings, not on the road.
With SPOTIO, you can design optimal routes based on a variety of criteria, such as distance, schedule, and meeting schedule. What does this mean? It means you can create routes based on the distance of a scheduled activity, your reps’ current locations, the amount of time needed to actually host a meeting, and more.
To see this feature, as well as many others inside SPOTIO, sign up for a free demo.
Uncover new opportunities between meetings
It doesn’t matter how amazing your sales route planner is. There will occasionally be gaps in your reps’ schedule. With SPOTIO, you can reclaim this time.
Our platform integrates with Google Places, which means your reps will be able to quickly search for businesses in the vicinity and identify potential customers. Basically, your reps will be able to drum up meetings in between meetings!
Automate mileage tracking
The average sales reps spends a paltry 37% of their time selling. The other 63% of their work day is spent on non-revenue producing tasks like data entry.
Eliminate at least one of these data entry tasks with SPOTIO’s sales route planner, which will automatically track rep’s mileage in the field. The data collected can then be exported for quick and easy reimbursement.
Track and review sales route activity
Finally, use SPOTIO to track and review all sales route activity for your sales team.
Doing so will help keep reps accountable. It will also show you, their sales manager, whether poor performance is due to a lack of effort or training. Once you know the answer you can make the necessary adjustments.
Benefits of effective sales route planning
The benefits of effective sales route planning are clear. Once you invest in a proven solution for sales routing purposes, you’ll be able to reliably…
Increased rep productivity
There’s no doubt about it, a sales route will make your sales team more productive.
Your reps will be able to get to each prospect in the most efficient way possible, reducing windshield time. They’ll be able to find potential customers in between meetings, too, ensuring every moment on the road is well spent.
And because sales route apps like SPOTIO automatically track mileage, reps will have to spend less time on time-consuming admin tasks.
Eliminate wasted miles and fuel
Yes, more efficient sales routes boost rep efficiency. But that’s not all…
More efficient routes minimize expenses, as well. Fewer miles driven will result in lower gas bills. The wear and tear on company cars should be factored in, too. The less time your vehicles are on the road, the less maintenance they’ll require.
Increased customer satisfaction
Sales route planning will benefit your company and its customers.
Think about it: the less time your reps spend on the road and imputing mileage data into software tools, the more time they can spend making customers happy.
The happier your customers are, the more money they’re likely to spend with your business. That’s one reason why customer retention is so important.
Greater field visibility for sales managers
Last, but certainly not least, effective sales route planning will make you a better sales manager. Why? Because it will give you greater visibility over your team.
You can’t coach your reps to greater success if you don’t know how they spend their time in the field. A sales route app will help give you this information. It will also help you make sure your reps are where they say they are at any given moment, validate expenses in the field, and more.
Cut road time and increase sales with SPOTIO
Sales route planning is essential to the success of your field sales team.
Once you invest in this solution, your reps will become more productive, incur fewer expenses, and generate happier customers. You’ll have much greater oversight over your reps’ day-to-day, too, which is always beneficial.
The question is, which sales route app is right for you and your team? We encourage you to consider SPOTIO. Our solution is used by thousands of sales reps in a variety of industries because it’s powerful and easy to use.