Generate more selling time with visit scheduling and route planning
In logistics, company profits rely on being able to deliver the right goods to the right point in the quickest, shortest route possible. Without robust delivery scheduling and a route plan logistics operations would collapse.
Many companies that employ a field-sales force overlook their logistics, not delivery trucks in this case but field based sales managers.
With a little thought and logic applied, Visit Scheduling and Route Planning can be used to make better use of your available selling time ensuring that a sales visit has the best chance of generating a positive outcome.
More visits, smarter conversations.
Assuming that our sales territory structures are right i.e everyone in the sales team has a clearly defined geographic patch that doesn’t overlap, let’s look at how visit scheduling and routing help maximise a sales manager’s time and reduce their travel or time spent driving.
To achieve a robust visit schedule and route plan for each sales manager we look at 3 areas.
Available Selling Time.
There are only so many hours in any given day a sales manager can be in front of customers. Calculating and understanding your available selling time per head of resource is the first place to start.
Take the time to understand their working hours and what this looks like throughout the quarter or year. This step needs to take into account holidays, office planning days, training, illness etc.
An over estimate of the available selling time per sales manager will lead to targets that are physically not possible to meet. An under estimate may mean that expectations are set too low for a sales manager or sales team.
Customer & Prospect Priorities
Not all customers are equal and just because a sales manager visits a customer on a certain frequency doesn’t necessarily mean he or she should! In previous posts we’ve looked at how using a recency, frequency value segmentation analysis can help determine the different tiers of customers you may have.
The sales team’s daily activity is a constant juggling act, consider;
- Seeing the right customers in the right frequency to keep the competition at bay, safeguarding your order book.
- Identifying which accounts present the best opportunity for growth and warrant a field sales manager.
- Transferring low opportunity, high maintenance accounts to a cheaper telesales channel.
Hunters, Farmers or a mix of the two..?
When it comes to prospecting are you trying to build a field sales of “hunters”, “farmers” or a mix of the two? Knowing how much of your available selling time per sales head you would like to assign all help to drive the daily visit schedule and ultimately the sales persons route plan.
Finally the call frequency, a question in two parts;
- How often do certain types of customers and prospects need to be seen throughout the year to generate the outcome you desire?
- In a face to face sales engagement how long does a typical meeting or visit last?
The output – What does my Monday look like?
The final step is to make sense of the above using a routing engine. A routing engine will take into account all of the sales visits you wish to make and will calculate the most efficient way of traveling to and between sales visits.
A good routing engine should take into consideration, multiple visits, overnight stays, road speeds at peak times, average speed by road type, rest breaks etc.
Once the calculations are complete a list can be given to a sales person via an excel file for example showing him or her exactly the activity required per day.
Clients who have used visit scheduling and route planning to schedule activity in this way have achieved significant gains. More sales visits, improved employee morale, better customer engagement to name a few.