As a sales leader, you're always looking for the advantage, but there's a secret weapon you may not have thought about yet: area mapping in sales.
Imagine this. You're sitting down to a game of chess. You know that you and your opponent are evenly matched in skill, so you're feeling confident. But wait, there's a catch. You sit down and someone hands you a blindfold. Your opponent gets to see the board and the pieces, but you're playing in the dark. Who do you think wins now?
It's not fair, but your opponent has something huge on their side: the power of visualization. In the world of field sales, you can harness that same power with area mapping. If your competitors have mapped out all their sales data while you're still working off dreaded spreadsheets, then you might as well have that blindfold on.
But there's good news! You can take off your own blindfold. When you no longer have to spend time and brain power interpreting lines of data, you can set you mind to finding a winning strategy. We're going to show you three ways to harness the power of area mapping in sales departments so that you can win more sales.
1. Identify new opportunities with area mapping
When you're managing a large field sales team, it's easy to assume that coverage isn't an issue. But when you look closely, there are likely gaps and overlaps. Fixing these will help you close more deals and reduce expenses.
Mapping your sales areas helps you identify gaps and overlap
You can use area mapping to help you visualize your sales team and their territories on a map. Give them unique colors to help differentiate them and make gaps and overlaps instantly visible. You can then analyze your sales setup with heat maps, bubble maps and radius maps. These can help you answer a variety of questions that will lead to increased sales and lower costs. Here are just a few things you can discover.
Are there gaps or overlapping areas in my sales coverage?
There are a number of ways mapping can help you answer this question. Once you've mapped out your sales areas, you may start to see accounts that are crossing the boundaries between salespeople. This can lead to arguments over who owns accounts and leads and can create unhealthy competition. Salespeople are competitive, but infighting among the team is damaging to productivity, so avoiding overlap is important.
You can also use a variety of buffers to see if there area gaps in your coverage. For example, using a drivetime buffer will help you create reasonable sales areas for your reps. It will also reveal gaps that your existing sales team can't cover with their current resources.
Overlapping sales areas can lead to unproductive disputes over lead ownership
Using a drivetime buffer helps reveal gaps in your sales coverage
How many customers are in a sales area and what does this tell me?
Knowing how many customers and leads are in each of your sales areas is important to understanding whether you're missing out on opportunities. Mapping out your sales areas can help you see this instantly, but you'll also have to know how many accounts and leads each of your salespeople can reasonably handle. If you're not sure about this, we've put together a guide to on how to calculate sales rep capacity.
Mapping sales areas allows you to instantly see the number of accounts handled by each sales rep.
Going through this exercise can lead to a few outcomes. You may find that the workload is balanced, which is fantastic. However, it's more common to find that your salespeople either can't serve everyone in their sales area or don't have enough opportunity. Both of these are an issue.
If your salespeople are too busy and don't have the capacity to pay attention to all the leads and customers, then you're losing out on potential sales. But if your salespeople don't have enough work to keep them busy, you're likely paying too much in salaries. If you have a mixture of both, you may be able to balance out the workload more evenly.
2. Boost sales team morale
Has your team's morale taken a dip? If you've experienced some of the issues we discussed above, you know they can be tough on your team. When some people have too many leads why others don't have enough, you end up rewarding the territory rather than the sales person. Just about anyone would be successful in a sales area with more opportunity than they can handle, yet they get the recognition and big bonuses.
Thankfully, the solution to this directly relates to everything we've already discussed. A balance workload will help alleviate the stress of being overworked in busy sales areas while providing everyone with the opportunity to succeed.
Once your sales areas are on a map, you can balance them by revenue, number of customers, opportunities, leads, or even the geographic size of the territory itself. With weighted balancing, you can also use a combination of factors, like historic and projected revenue.
Balanced sales areas are proven to be effective and efficient, allowing you to get the most from your team. In fact, just re-aligning your territories can lead to a 2-7% increase in sales.
When your team feels they have fair opportunities without being overworked, they're motivated. This leads to lower staff turnover and ultimately more closed deals.
3. Empower your team
Your team members are your biggest asset. You need to give them the tools and motivation to succeed. Salespeople tend to be competitive, so you need to manage that in a way that benefits the business. To do this, you need to both empower them and keep them focused.
Of course, the first step is to ensure your salespeople have fair territories that give them the chance to succeed. As we discussed earlier, when territories aren't clear, this can cause disputes over leads and accounts. So once you've mapped your sales areas, you should share these maps with your entire team. That way you have full transparency and everyone is working from the same source of truth when it comes to who owns what.
Beyond having clear information about which areas they should be working in, salespeople need to be able to use their time efficiently. Mapping tools can help here as well. Within their own territory, each sales person can use filtering tools to target high-value leads and accounts, particularly industries and more.
Color coding or filtering accounts can help salespeople prioritize.
Of course, to ensure your salespeople know what type of accounts they should be targeting, you have to set goals and criteria. Having all this information at their finger tips helps your salespeople take control of developing their territory. Once your salespeople have their targets, they can use optimized routing to create a plan for each day. This maximizes selling time and minimizes fuel costs.
Manager Heather is eSpatial's Customer Communications Manager. With a background in journalism and communications, she specializes in making technical topics more approachable. Her articles dig deep into how businesses can use mapping software to achieve their goals.Read more from Heather McLean