How to pick the best route optimization software for your sales team. Our seven essential features to look for before you buy.
Like your sales teams, route planning software can make an incredible pitch for your time and money. The market is projected to grow by 14.2% a year through 2030, so you may be looking at several options already. But like any good sales tactic, the proof is under the hood. Certain features, designs, and synchronous data channels will separate the route optimization software you really need from the type you can leave behind on the road to more efficient management.
We're here to reveal what those defining traits are. Learn what makes for a fantastic sales routing tool to improve your daily driver visit rates and customer service.
Why some route planning loses you
You may have been here before – struggling with a bad UI, commanding dozens of drivers on hard-to-read roads, setting recommended routes without really knowing why they're helping your sales metrics or fleet management. Inadequate routing software can fall apart in many ways. It might be buggy, inaccurate or poorly presented. The data used to direct one driver or another can be paper-thin. The sales route could run into traffic or plan every stop individually, with no guidance for paying multiple visits nearby.
For instance, Google Maps lets you key in several destinations but caps them at nine. If you want to add any more, you'll have to use My Maps for a bigger master list. But Google Maps isn't the sharpest tool anyway. While it's fine for regular trips, sales appointments need more than clear roads and good directions. They must assess the best route progress based on priority (who the rep should see first), proximity (whether a prospect or delivery route can be combined with another), fuel costs (making journeys more profitable) and potential revenue (leveraging rich market data).
Basic route mapping platforms may get you from A to B, but they don't come with a host of advanced analytics and real-time updates on why this is the best route plan and how you'll navigate it. Neither will they lay all those insights in front of you. And if you want to integrate route mapping software with valuable CRMs like Salesforce, you may have your work cut out. Mid or lower-tier choices will probably deal with the route and the route alone.
These are just three main problems at play:
- Consumer GPS tracking apps weren't designed for a salesperson or commercial driver. They're meant to be swiftly used, usually for one or just several trips at a time.
- Switching between apps takes time and focus. Mapping, tracking, logging in and linking to further data sources distracts a sales team from heading out and actually doing its job.
- Manual route optimization software is archaic. Selecting coordinates and telling some systems exactly what you need every time is detrimental to your operations. An automated route manager is so much easier.
What is route optimization software?
Route planning and route optimization are different. The first just explains how to get somewhere, whereas the second tells you why that destination – at that specific point in the sales diary – makes commercial sense.
A full-service route planner helps you and your sales reps select the optimized route, taking average journey time, delivery schedules, client locations and other drivers' routes into account. They've been built with sales professionals and fleet truck drivers in mind. Yet they also swallow your supporting data – the diet to a sound sales strategy. Which prospects are more likely to buy, and how much will they spend? Which territories are more lucrative? How might you shorten journeys through the day with less stress on your vehicles? Where might you balance the workload between your sales reps? Route optimization is about meeting your unique business objectives as much as the finish line on GPS tracking. It allows you to get more value from your people, resources and sales schedule.
This way, route optimization software maximizes hard gains such as revenue and lower expenses. Equally, it makes your reps more punctual, thereby raising your level of customer service. It accounts for everything that makes a trip timely and successful. Ideally, you should also have access to real-time traffic, weather and sales rep data, so the direction is continually optimized for fleet management.
Seven essential route optimization software features
Okay, so now we've run over the general shape of what route mapping and route optimization software is – as well as some common drawbacks; let's see what makes it incredible. Many providers claim to design a solution that covers everything you've been waiting for. Our incisive checklist sorts the best from the rest:
1. Add multiple stops along the efficient route
Unlike Google Maps and other consumer-level apps, leading route planning software lets you pin multiple destinations onto the sales map. You and the reps can see how far each waypoint is and when they should be covered. Then you can zoom out for the full picture, including adjacent delivery or sales routes that ensure everyone is sufficiently spread out.
2. Tweak start and end times for meetings
Getting somewhere on time, and in one piece, is just the start of route optimization. You can also set the perfect length for every customer service interaction, or let intelligent software do it for you, factoring in the potential value and success of the deal. The app can also alert the sales rep, reminding them to move on.
3. View a clear, enriched UI
Color codes, numbered routes and ‘heat maps' demonstrating spikes in sales activity through your territories are your friends. They'll help gauge your plan's efficiency and coordinates. If route management software doesn't have a simple framework for visualizing what matters, you'll waste more time trying to understand it. That also goes for data inputs on your route plan.
4. Adjust routes, schedules and destinations on the go
If a meeting takes longer than you expected, the sales or delivery route should reflect that, then adjust itself to hit every priority your driver still has for that day. This must be quick and painless enough to do in the car, van or truck between appointments.
5. Bring in granular customer, sales and fleet data
The ultimate route optimization builds many of its recommendations on your goals and KPIs. Salesforce and other data platforms should have a doorway into route planning software, syncing with updates on the road and operational efficiency for fleet management.
6. Integrate with top navigation apps
Since they're skewed towards commercial fleet service, route optimization tools may not have all the step-by-step travel information your reps are looking for while driving. But smart, comprehensive navigation apps could integrate with your software too, lending precise directions and turn reminders.
7. Share routes with team members
A premier route manager does more than provide GPS tracking for destinations that are bound to help your sales quota and field service. They facilitate simple sharing between office staff, sales managers, and the people behind the wheel. Reports and routes can instantly appear on a new device, with contact shortcuts in case you need to speak to someone about what's ahead.
How to pitch the perks to your reps
From a route manager's standpoint, there's so much to appreciate in optimization software. Embedding it within your fleet, however, might take more convincing. There's a chance your sales team fears being overtaken and overridden by route planning software – that they'll have less autonomy and legroom for mistakes.
Yet there's a clear argument to be made for reps to come on board. The chief reason is: Route optimization software will help them earn a higher commission. Additional, more successful journeys on the same schedule can only benefit their career. Field sales reps can concentrate on the visits they must prepare for, knowing they're on the perfect road ahead.
If you're looking for more strengths to aid route optimization software adoption in your workforce, remember that:
- Sales reps won't have to worry about disruptions when they're out selling.
- With fewer missed appointments, they can perform exceptionally well on multiple routes while improving customer satisfaction.
- The sales manager shares the same view of where reps are, where they're going, and what's occurred along the way – reducing miscommunication and making the job fairer.
- Reps might even finish the work day earlier, swiftly closing several high-profile deals with a useful route for guidance.
Arm your sales reps with powerful, intuitive capabilities that go way beyond typical sales planning software. After all, you're spoiled for choice. We've created one of the sleekest, most adaptable route optimization platforms ever.
eSpatial provides a deep perspective on your key territories and their reps. You'll save costs, raise sales, lower maintenance, and have a much more realistic grasp of the profits you're bringing in. Eager to see what we mean? Try a free route optimization software demo.