How to optimize sales route planning

8 best practices for sales leaders

Greg Dette by Greg Dette on October 18, 2022  |  4 minute read
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What is sales route planning?

Sales route planning is when salespeople optimize travel to multiple stops in the shortest time. This is simple to do with a specialized route planner.

Why is sales route planning so important?

For salespeople, the time spent selling to prospects and customers is directly linked to quota achievement. According to a study done for the Forbes article "Why Sales Reps Spend So Little Time Selling", only 35% of a sales rep's time is spent selling to customers. Every minute regained through sales route planning, and optimization is time you can spend with customers. That leads to more revenue and productivity.

What are the key benefits of sales route planning?

  • More time spent with "high-profit" customers (or Sweet Spot Clients)
  • Less windshield time (or drivetime)
  • More selling time
  • Higher productivity and utilization

8 Best practices for route planning and optimization

1. Understand your customer locations

Your starting point is a deep knowledge of your sales territory and geography. Knowing your customers, prospects, and competitor locations is critical. Seeing those locations is transformational.

Your sales data will come alive as you uncover patterns like competitor clusters or customer hotspots. You will also see whitespaces or areas with untapped sales potential.

Pin map with customer locations

2. Align with your sales strategy and prioritize calls

Sales strategy execution is always a priority, but often behaviors misalign with the objectives. For example, your strategy is to sell premium security systems to households with a minimum income of $200,000. But analysis of sales rep calls shows that they are calling on households with average incomes below $100,000. It is a common challenge.

So, be clear on your Sweet Spot Client first before you proceed.

Think of your Sweet Spot Client as a customer with the highest profitable sales potential. Ask these questions

  • Which industry and or group of organizations should you prioritize?
  • What size are they? (revenue, employees, #patients, # PCs)
  • What personas own the benefits?
  • What will be their key drivers to enable them to say yes?

3. Build routes around critical and pre-scheduled meetings

As you enter the route design phase, focus initially on your highest-priority meetings. Add those to the schedule first. You'll want to optimize your routes with those "locked-in" meetings.

Next, add your pre-scheduled meetings. Experience shows that pre-booked appointments generate higher close rates.


4. Review your availability and workload

Now think about your availability. How many non-sales meetings do you need to attend? How many hours will you need to set aside for call planning, administration, emails, and calls?

Assuming you work a 32-hour week, subtract the non-selling time each day to estimate your available selling time.

5. Review and adapt to your customer's availability

Once you have reviewed your availability, you can move on to your customers. Are there customers who have visiting time windows? If so, add these first to your schedule. And add calls you have already "locked in."

Your route optimization software will take account of your "locked-in" times and customer availability, then generate your optimized schedule.

6. Plan your week first

Focus on your upcoming week to maximize your immediate potential and plan your month. It rarely goes exactly to plan, but if you have your month mapped out, you will be much more successful. And you'll feel more relaxed knowing you are on top of your schedule.

7. Optimize your selling day

Now focus on your selling day. Remember the foundational work you have done to make your day a success:

  • You know your customer locations
  • You are clear on the sales strategy
  • You have prioritized your sales calls on sales potential
  • You have "locked in" important sales calls
  • You have accounted for your "non-selling" time
  • You have planned out the week in advance

You are ready to optimize your day.

Sales route optimized with office day

8. Be flexible with your day

You know how "best-laid plans" get messed up. Customers cancel appointments. Accidents happen on the roads resulting in delays. Sometimes you are running ahead of schedule and have free time to spend prospecting.

So, always have your route optimization tool at the ready and a backup call list. Your backup list is your go-to when you hit a challenge. You can easily re-optimize your day to include a new stop. Or to rearrange the order of your stops to accommodate a customer.

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Greg Dette Written by

Greg Dette

Greg is GIS through and through. He earned a degree in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Cartography from Rutger's University in New Jersey and has enjoyed a career in mapping software sales working with: MapInfo, Terralign, MapAnything, and others. His passion is sales optimization with mapping. Working with customers, he helps them expose hidden inefficiencies and revenue and guides them to achieve 100% sales resource capacity. Greg lives in Albany New York. When he isn't solving mapping problems, he enjoys walking his new Labrador puppy and other outdoor activities, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

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