How field sales route planning can supercharge your business

Liam Costello by Liam Costello  |  4 minute read
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While consumer-level apps like Google Maps are great for getting the average person from point A to point B, field sales reps must follow complicated, dynamic routes to meet all the clients they need to. Normally, that means manually entering each address in the ideal order; and any schedule adjustments along the way require tedious fiddling to find an efficient route. Without route planning and optimization features, you may as well hand your sales reps a paper map.

To plot your field sales routes properly, you need a solution that considers your reps.

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Why your field sales team may struggle

There are many reasons why your field sales reps might be struggling, but one of the most common is their route planning software. Most solutions weren't designed for a mobile sales team, whether they're difficult for drivers to use on the go or they lack the optimization capabilities of a multi-stop route planner. Traditional routing software simply isn't robust enough for the modern field sales team.

Do these problems sound familiar to your team?

Visiting priority clients

If your field sales team uses a basic navigation app, it's likely not integrated with customer information. That means they can't necessarily see which prospects are high-priority. Your operations team might create a planned route or sales strategy to visit these clients, but it's time-consuming, and any schedule hiccups can result in missed opportunities.

Meeting lead quotas

In general, field sales reps have to meet a quota for their visits per day, so staying on schedule and reducing travel time is paramount. Without route optimization software, finding the fastest route requires painstaking planning ahead of time, and drivers still might not reach their quota due to delays, last-minute cancellations, or any number of disruptions. Not only does this translate to reduced productivity, but it also means each rep has less time with the customer.

Adjusting routes on the fly

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of a rudimentary sales route planner is the lack of flexibility. Every sales manager knows that a driver's day doesn't always go to plan. This can impact sales performance without optimization features as reps struggle to adjust their schedules to unexpected changes. When this happens, drivers tend to go outside their planned route, making it difficult for fleet management to track movement and productivity.

The essentials of route optimization

To understand route optimization, we first need to know how it differs from route planning. In route planning, sales teams plot client visits along a route plan for each rep to follow. These maps are great for developing a scheduled route, but what happens when the unexpected occurs? Drivers have to deal with all sorts of weather and traffic conditions, delays, cancellations, and client rescheduling — or sometimes, a prospect might just need more time with your sales rep. The last thing they want is to figure out a new route on their way to the next appointment.

Route optimization takes this burden off of the sales representative by automatically finding the optimal route for multiple stops. Reps simply edit their schedule as they go, and the route optimization software uses powerful algorithms to instantly deliver a new, optimized route. Beyond accounting for the unexpected, this kind of solution enables drivers to cut down on travel time and meet with more clients.

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Top 3 benefits of route optimization

Still unsure if you need route optimization software? Here are three key benefits these solutions can bring to your field sales team:

  1. Targeting high-priority leads:

    A sales route planner lets you filter customers by lead potential and historical data like last visits. Then, cluster these stops together based on locational information and develop a heat map of high-priority clients. With these accounts identified, simply divide your territories and start planning the most efficient route for each sales rep.

  2. Real-time optimization

    The best route planning software comes with optimization features to help drivers stay on schedule, no matter what the day looks like. Not only can you tailor appointments to customer needs with adjustable meeting times, but any changes entered into the system automatically deliver a new optimized route to follow. That way, your field reps spend less time on the road and more time on sales.

  3. More customer visits & less fuel

    Reduced travel time also enables field reps to make more client visits daily, boosting sales productivity and customer success. In addition to more client time, less driving means reduced travel costs. As fuel prices skyrocket, sales teams are putting a higher emphasis on efficient travel. Intelligent route optimization software solves this problem by delivering the most time- and fuel-efficient route to each rep. And the bonus is you reduce your organization's carbon footprint, so what's good for the team is good for the planet. 

Key features of field sales route planning software

With so many options for route planning software, it can be hard to cut through the noise and find the right solution for your business. Features and capabilities vary widely across providers, so knowing what you're looking for is crucial.

With that in mind, here are a few key features you should look for in a field sales route planner:

  1. Access a mobile app for field sales reps on the move.
  2. Build multi-stop routes around priority clients.
  3. Plan route schedules in advance to support your strategy.
  4. Optimize routes according to schedule changes.
  5. Share routes across teams and managers to keep everyone up-to-speed.

Planning begins here

eRouting is the all-in-one tool for field sales reps to maximize selling time while reducing travel and scheduling inefficiencies. From intelligent algorithms that calculate the most efficient route to advanced optimization capabilities that keep your reps on track for success, eRouting has everything you need to boost productivity and customer satisfaction — ultimately driving sales.

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Liam Costello Written by

Liam Costello

Liam is an eSpatial account manager and mapping expert. He specializes in helping businesses solve problems and increase sales through mapping visualization, territory management, route optimization and more. Liam holds a Master's Degree in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing.

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