Multi-stop route planning is critical for any field sales strategy, enabling reps to visit as many high-priority clients as possible and increasing your company's bottom line. However, it's not as simple as road trip planning in your Google Maps app.
True route optimization requires more than just driving directions; your field team needs to find the most efficient route between multiple locations while reducing travel time and boosting sales productivity. That's a lot to ask from even SaaS-based routing solutions, let alone the best free route planners.
So, what's the solution? A multi-stop route planner. Let's take a look at what this type of software is, how it works and the key features to look for when making a decision.
What is a multi-stop route planner?
Multi-stop route planning software takes your travel plan to the next level by enabling sales teams to determine the optimal route between multiple stops for each field sales rep. Simply input your unique sales and client data to plot out each stop with intuitive visualizations and priority markers. With this data, you can divide specific areas into different territories, and use the intelligent algorithms to find the most efficient route for each sales rep.
Beyond a simple route planner, the best multi-stop routing software comes with built-in optimization capabilities, enabling reps to edit their schedules while on the move. This real-time adaptability might be an issue for a traditional route planner app, route optimization software automatically finds the ideal route based on any adjustments. And any schedule changes, along with any appointment notes, are sent directly to operations teams for greater visibility and real-time performance tracking.
A multi-stop route planner not only delivers an optimized route for each driver, but it also empowers your reps to stay on schedule, allowing more time for client visits. However, that's not all it can do for your company.
Why multi-stop route planning is crucial for sales teams
As your team performs its daily operations, you likely face multi-stop trip planning challenges like inefficient routes, last-minute schedule changes and a lack of selling time for reps. All of these can result in reduced sales productivity and missed opportunities for your company.
With a multi-stop route planner, you can ensure each driver receives the fastest route to every destination, no matter the disruptions they face. That way, your field sales team can:
1. Reduce unnecessary drive time
With an intelligent multi-stop route planning solution, your reps don't just get a speedy route — advanced algorithms calculate the fastest optimal route between each point while prioritizing high-value prospects. Compared to consumer-level solutions like the Google Maps route planner, multi-stop planners reduce travel time across the board. As a result, you save on fuel costs, lower your carbon footprint and empower reps to spend more time selling.
2. Free up more time to sell
Reduced travel time means that reps have more availability to engage with leads, especially high-priority ones. As your field team continues throughout the day, they can add start and end times for each appointment and adjust their schedules along the way.
With multi-stop route optimization software, these changes are recorded and each driver receives a new optimal route for the next destination. This frees up more time for valuable clients and can even enable each rep to add another stop to their day.
3. Drive sales effectiveness
When field sales reps are able to make more stops throughout the day, and spend more time with high-value clients, their productivity skyrockets. This added sales time improves client satisfaction as reps are able to meet with leads for longer periods, address any questions and maximize the effectiveness of each appointment in driving sales. Increased facetime is good for your customers, great for your sales reps and even better for your bottom dollar.
Challenges of traditional route mapping software
Traditional routing software like Google or Apple Maps are simply not designed for modern sales teams. Not only is it difficult to add multiple destinations, but they lack the sophistication and agility that today's field reps require.
Here are just a few challenges field sales operations often face when using these outdated solutions:
- A lack of prioritization features to ensure reps engage with high-value prospects.
- Poor visibility into daily routes, meeting details and sales performance.
- Tedious planning stages to map out the most efficient route between multiple stops for reps.
- No optimization capabilities to re-route sales reps when schedules change.
- Siloed systems that lack integration with sales and client datasets.
When it comes to managing complicated routes for multiple destinations across your field sales team, simplicity matters. You need a multi-stop route planner that's advanced enough to handle complex sales territories, yet intuitive enough that planning is easy and mobile reps can use it on the go.
An innovative solution, like eRouting from eSpatial, enables effortless route planning in four simple steps:
- Upload customer data and sort by location, last visit, lead potential and more.
- Visualize, analyze and target stops based on factors like priority, proximity and travel time.
- Set up your appointments and create multiple routes to plan your reps' work weeks.
- Re-optimize as schedules change to ensure the most efficient route for each driver.
Benefits of a multi-stop route planner
Multi-stop route planners deliver a variety of benefits to sales teams, from reduced travel time to increased sales effectiveness. But that's just the start. With an effective multi-stop route planning solution, your team is able to:
1. Prioritize high-value clients
Why waste time and money sending a sales rep an hour out of their way each day for just a single client? By integrating with your customer data systems, a sales route planner can help you identify the highest priority accounts for each of your reps to visit based on location. Even in less-dense territories, it can still cut down on unnecessary drive time while ensuring field teams meet with the right people at the right times.
2. Save on planning time
The days of operations teams having to pour over complicated maps are over. A multi-stop route planner uses powerful algorithms to automatically calculate the optimal route with unlimited stops for each rep. Any changes are accounted for along the way, providing reps with updated driving directions to stay on schedule.
3. Share routes, schedules, and directions
Your field team shouldn't have to use Google Maps to manually enter a list of client addresses. Instead, multi-stop route planning software enables cross-collaboration between office staff and field sales reps. With all of your client and route information in one place, your team can easily share route schedules and directions with each other, ensuring that everyone is working together.
Key capabilities to look for in route planning software
Unfortunately, most route planning software on the market lacks the capabilities and functionality required by today's field sales teams. Rather than patchworking a system together with a free route planner app, it's best to look for a solution that has everything you need in one.
To help you find the right route planner for your business, here are four key capabilities to look for:
1. Visualize multiple routes
Visualizing sales data, client information, lead hot spots and multiple sales routes are all crucial for developing a strong field sales strategy. Your route planning software should come with intuitive visualization tools, allowing you to map and manage territories, uncover coverage gaps and strategically plan routes to maximize sales productivity.
2. Re-optimize routes on the go
One of the most critical features of any route planning solution is the ability to adjust planned routes on the go. With route optimization software, your field reps can manage unexpected delays, long appointment times and last-minute cancellations in a few easy clicks. The mobile app automatically generates a new optimal route plan based on any changes throughout the day.
3. Gain real-time visibility
With standard navigation apps, operations teams are often left in the dark when field sales reps adjust their routes and schedules. Route planning software can enable real-time data transfer between reps and office staff. From meeting timelines and appointment notes to changes in the route plan, all of this data is sent directly to the operations teams to ensure field teams are straying on track.
4. Track sales team performance
On top of gathering in-the-moment insights, a route planning solution needs to provide long-term performance data. By tracking reps as they travel and visit with clients, operations teams can see how they are performing and where sales efforts have been most effective. From there, it's easy to discover opportunities for improvement and adjust your strategy to target these areas.