Visit scheduling & journey planning improves field force efficiency by 30%
How often should I call on my customers given their locations? Could I be losing sales because they are under serviced? Am I wasting time and money visiting too often?
We’ve completed a wave of calls 2 weeks quicker – so that’s 5 weeks not 7, nearly 30% quicker. I would definitely recommend Tech4T to anyone looking to drive efficiencies in their sales teams.
Tim Warner, Sales Director of Costa Express
Adopting a scientific approach to sales opportunity forecasting, visit activity planning and the logistical scheduling of those visits and journey planning to get round them in the most efficient way will help you answer these questions – and increase the number of daily visits made by your field force.
How much additional business could your sales or merchandising force be gaining by seeing more of the right customers and prospects when visit schedules are aligned to maximise resource vs. workload? Equally, if you run other types of field force, by improving operative-to-client allocation through logistical analysis, you will reduce driving time, decrease operational expenses including travel and fuel costs, whilst increasing visit frequency and meeting duration with the most important clients.
Don’t confuse route planning with optimised visit scheduling
The former creates an optimum route sequence between pre-selected locations, whereas the latter evaluates millions of customer-to-sales (or field) person and visit criteria permutations to balance and assign resource (sales or field personnel) to workload over a specified time period in the most productive way.
Also don’t confuse the optimisation features found in some CRM systems with logistics planning and scheduling. CRM systems do not optimise visits by geography and road infrastructure. That is not their purpose. However, by combining a good CRM system with visit scheduling services or software, then productivity is maximised.
Workload vs. resource
Despite the fact that each of your field force may have an equal number of customers and prospects or similar territory sales potential, their workload can fluctuate strongly due to the variation in distances they have to travel and the variable visit frequency required by certain customers.
Additionally, customer visits are dependent on various factors – customers’ opening hours, sales visit seasonality, frequency, cycle and duration, fixed appointments, team’s working hours etc. In addition, certain customers should only be visited on certain days in a certain visit cycle, or by specialised sales or support staff.
Therefore there are many factors to take into account when field force scheduling!
See how we helped Costa Coffee complete a campaign 30% quicker.
How Tech4T can help
Our sales opportunity forecasting, visit activity planning and scheduling solutions take all these factors into account and provide optimised visit plans that can also accommodate overnight stays to improve territory coverage.
The process – designed to improve efficiency through more efficient geographic-based workload planning – first explores proximities and priorities to determine who gets visited and when, then creates the sequenced routes.
- Strategic/tactical visit schedules can be planned for up to 52 weeks ahead
- Precise location assessment, ‘what-if’… simulations and detailed trip plans including sales lists and overnight stays
- Takes account of desired call frequency, access and staff availability, holidays and sickness, etc.
Services, software or a combination of both?
Depending on your business model, you are likely to gain significant benefit by implementing two kinds of visit scheduling solution.
- A centralised planning system – where workload can be assessed across all field operatives and then logistically planned for say the next 3 or 6 months. This kind of solution allows for what-if strategic planning including assessing the impact of launching a new product which can perhaps only be handled by a subset of the work force, pitching for new business which requires a specific level of resource to be on hand, or, after applying predictive analytics to determine who requires an additional visit, see how best to assign the additional workload. Also, a centralised solution can apply the outcomes (sales or otherwise) of the previous period to optimise the next set of schedules, plus handle staff level changes, holidays or sickness.
- Field operative system – where the centralised visit scheduling plan can be fed into tactical CRM systems, interfacing with the operatives calendar or work plan and allowing the individual to then manipulate the schedule based on daily appointment changes, new enquiries, etc.
If you need visit schedules for a field team that are updated weekly, monthly or alternate frequency, we can undertake the logistical planning process for you as an outsourced service, delivering sequenced visit plans in spreadsheet format or in a file structure ready to feed into your CRM or mobile order capture systems. We can also load visit schedules into our Territory Runner geo-planning system including the creation of territory zones – territory sub-divisions that group visits within a geographic area and allow new visits to be easily scheduled when falling within the same zone.
If you need to schedule multiple teams on a more frequent basis, we can provide a choice of specialist visit scheduling software for you to schedule any number of sales or support teams in-house. This software is designed specifically to manage field forces, whatever their purpose – business development managers, sales representatives, support teams, information collectors, field marketing, debt collection, insurance assessment, etc. Outputs can feed into virtually any external operational system including our Territory Runner system.
All our solutions will operate in the UK, Eire, Europe, USA or anywhere in the world.
Contact us to find out more and see how visit scheduling and journey planning can help increase field force productivity.
See the benefits of Territory Runner