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How to plan the commercial tours of your sales team?

Companies have to face serious competition in a difficult economic environment. To survive, they must either take market shares from their competitors or be ahead of them through innovative offers or concepts.

In any case, the efficiency of their sales team is essential. They need to anticipate their actions to conquer new customers, increase the sales turnover per customer and reach their goals.

The sales tour is a basis for the business strategy. The preparation, planning and optimization of those sales tour represent an important matter for the commercial board.

This article will deal with:
1 – Sales route preparation: the elements to analyze before organizing the sales tour
2 – Sales tour planning: ideas for thought
3 – A tool to optimize the planning
4 – The advantages of a well-prepared sales tour

 

1 – Sales route preparation

Multiple elements need to be analyzed upstream such as the potential number of visits of the sales representative, the quality of the client or lead, the frequency and the visit costs.

Step 1: Assess the potential visits of each sales representative

This step is conducted by the sales manager in order to elaborate a consistent sales route planning for each field representative.

 

Time available for visits per year
= (1) – (2) – (3)
The average length of a visit depends on:
(1) Time of the year (365 days or 52 weeks)

(2) Non-working time:
– Paid leave + compensatory time
– Medical leave

(3) Time dedicated to other tasks:
– training
– business fair
– meeting
– administrative tasks

– the type of visit (prospection, demonstration, order intake, retention, etc.)

– travelling time

– geographical distribution of the clients (clients’ remoteness, traffic conditions)

– length of a product’s business cycle (time lapse between first contacts and sale closing).

 

Step 2: Assess the clients or leads’ quality

This step is crucial in order to make each visit profitable as they represent a cost for the company.

3 criteria should be considered for this assessment: the solvability of the client or lead, the potential sales turnover and the visits’ profitability.

Step 3: The frequency of visit

This refers to the number of visits to be carried out each year and with each client/lead.
It depends on:

  • The quality of the client/lead
  • The type of visit: order intake, demonstration, courtesy visit
  • The type of product sold: capital goods (separate visits), consumer goods (regular visits)

 

Step 4: Assess the visit costs/expected sales turnover

 

Calculation elements of a visit cost for a given period of time Expenses
1. Salary costs of the sales force
– Salaries and social costs
(I)
2. Living expenses
– Accommodation costs (restaurant, hotel, etc.)
– Travelling costs (kilometer refunds, highway and parking fees, etc.)
– Telephone expenses
(II)
3. Administrative and management personnel expenses
– Percentage of time spent by management on sales training
– Percentage of time spent by the administrative staff on sales training
(III)
4. Commercial management costs
– Operating costs of the commercial service
(IV)
Total of the visit costs: V = Total (I) + (II) + (III) + (IV) (V)
Number of visits per period = n
Cost of a visit: C= (V)/n

 

Based on this assessment and the expected feedback from such a visit (turnover), the sales representative can favor a different mean of contact or adjust the frequency of visit.

 

2 – Sales tour planning

Multiple types of visit itineraries

The sales representative establishes a visit schedule, summary of the visits to be carried out over a period of time. Using this schedule, he/she will be able to create the sales tour planning and define the visit itineraries on a map.

For information, there are 3 forms of sales tour: “marguerite”, “escargot”/spiral and “zigzag” sales route.

 

Marguerite sales tour planning

« MARGUERITE » SALES TOUR

This type of sales tour is adapted to small commercial areas: the company’s headquarter (or the sales representative’s home) is at the center of the area of the clients to be visited.The area is divided into sectors (represented by the petals) in which tours are planned.

Spiral sales tour planning

« ESCARGOT » (or SPIRAL) SALES TOUR

The starting point of the escargot (or spiral) sales tour is the company’s headquarter (or the sales representative’s home). The salesman then organizes his visits by following the route of a spiral.

Zigzag sales tour planning

« ZIGZAG » SALES TOUR

This type of sales tour is adapted to very large geographic areas with clients that are distant from one another.
The sales representative organizes his tour around a central axis. He starts with the client who is furthest away from his company and ends with the nearest one.

 

Regardless of the chosen form, the sales route optimization should make it possible to reduce:

  • the driving time (or in transportation) and increase the time available for sale
  • the sales representative’s travel costs and other expenses


    3 – A sales tour planning tool integrated into the CRM

     

The use of a sales tour planning tool integrated into the CRM enables the field representative to:

  • on the one hand, stay connected to the main CRM information even on the move thanks to the smartphones
    – to integrate his own constraints and those of its contacts
    – to select the clients to visit by using a scoring system
  • on the other hand, to optimize the sales route at any time.

Such a tool enables to geocode the appointments with an appointment to appointment route function. The sales representative is then able to:

  • visualize all the appointments on a map (using a desktop and/or smartphone)
  • know the travel time according to the chosen transportation mean

The organization of his trips is then simplified. He saves valuable time and can concentrate on the objectives of his appointments.

EXANERGY CRM itinerary search functionality for sales tour planning

EXANERGY CRM itinerary search functionality

 

The proximity search function could be very useful for a sales representative who, after a last-minute cancellation, wants to know immediately which other client or lead is in his geographical area. Within two clicks, he will have a view on all the accounts/contacts in the area and choose who to contact for a courtesy visit.

EXANERGY CRM proximity search functionality for sales tour planning

EXANERGY CRM proximity search functionality

 

This tool is offered with HLi Group’s EXANERGY CRM.


4 – The advantages of a well-prepared sales route

 

The sales route optimization improves sales force efficiency. Well-elaborated, it enables to:

  • effectively grid a sales area and be more visible than the competitors
  • visit more clients, leads and maximize the likelihood of achieving the business goals
  • better follow the customer and build loyalty
  • reduce time spent in driving (or in transportation) and increase time available for sale
  • reduce fatigue generated by long journey times to be more effective

From the point of view of the company’s executive management, this preparation makes it possible to:

  • reduce travel expenses (lunches, dinners, overnight stays, transportation)
  • increase the company’s profitability
  • improve customer satisfaction.

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