At first glance this question may seem way down the list of things to consider when you are establishing sales areas or reassessing how your sales team is deployed.
But look closer and you find that it’s at the heart of how a business can maximise its sales potential. It seems obvious to say that every member of a sales team needs to spend as much of their time as possible securing sales. That means minimising unproductive time in the day – in other words time not spent selling.
Time on the road between customer visits is a large part of this unproductive time, and the distance travelled has a major influence on this. So it makes sense to look at the distances being travelled by your sales teams – or, if you’re setting up a new sales territory – how far your team will be travelling to make sales.
The issue of distance has not always been recognised as being important when businesses are looking at sales territories. It has been more or less ignored because the technology hasn’t been around to gather such information in-depth or for individual staff to combine it with other data to help inform decision-making.
In days gone by sales territories were mainly based on gut instinct and traditional boundaries. When businesses used to set up sales territories they tended to define them along geographical lines – following established city, county or state boundaries. It was a convenient model to follow and was easy for everyone involved – managers and staff – to understand.
But as these areas could vary widely in size, this meant that some salespeople could end up being responsible for a sales patch far greater than others. And this often led to huge variations in the amount of time spent travelling between sales visits and big differences in the sales being achieved in each territory.
When sales territories were compared it could also be demoralising for team members who had to travel further to achieve sales, as they felt they were not working on a level playing field with their colleagues. If huge distances were involved they could be expected to stay overnight and away from their families – all adding to their unhappiness with their working conditions.
So distance does matter when you are trying to give your sales team all an equal chance of optimising their sales.
And these days help is available to ensure that your decisions are based on data – such as the distances your sales team will need to travel to gain sales – that is current and relevant to your business.
Sales territory mapping services such as Tech4T’s Territory Runner Location Intelligence System, and its Sales Territory Optimisation solution can bring together all the data you need to enhance your team’s results.
And more and more companies are now becoming aware that there are many more factors than just geographical boundaries that need to be considered when designing effective sales areas.
Sales territory mapping looks at a range of logistical factors which effect on a day-to-day basis how a sales team will perform. This includes how easy it is for sales teams to travel around a given area, the time they take, and the distance they have to cover.
In this way logistical factors can not only determine how much productive time sales staff have, but also help businesses define the number of people needed in the team.
These kind of logistical factors are key to the success of a sales territory, but it’s worth noting that they should be combined with other factors to get the full picture.
For example, time may be better spent travelling a longer distance to a higher value customer than to travel shorter distances to relatively lower value prospects.
So sales territory mapping experts such as Tech4T also focus on sales potential, looking at the number of customers in an area, their purchase history, and whether there are underserved prospects nearby.
This expertise helps you and your sales teams maximise sales.