One of the most important responsibilities of business owners, C-Suite executives, and sales managers is to clearly communicate sales goals and objectives to their sales team. It’s simply way too easy for salespeople to get distracted and lose focus on their sales targets.
Loss of focus leads to lower sales, every time.
Distractions abound today. Internet access alone can lead an ADD-leaning sales person astray. Add to that job security concerns, changes in business policies, or office gossip, and a better part of a day can be lost to distractions. Therefore, it is imperative to make monthly or quarterly sales expectations crystal clear. Informed salespeople are more likely to succeed.
Business maps are the perfect platform for sharing sales objectives, sales results, and business strategies as part of a regular sales review and planning meeting. Geographic representations of any company’s business structure are easy to build, eminently affordable, and a catalyst for positive sales action on the phone or in the field.
1. Help Sales Visualize Goals
Business mapping starts where spreadsheets leave off. Very few salespeople will be inspired to over-achieve based on the bottom line of a company balance sheet. Expense and revenue spreadsheets crunch raw numbers into bottom-line goals. Numbers-only objectives are often presented as edicts from above, as opposed to reality-based sales goals connected to actual address-based sales opportunities. In many cases, sales objectives are simply executive team demands, disconnected from product and customer realities. Sales goals are more achievable when they are connected to reality.
Business maps start with spreadsheets of customer locations and prospect locations. Those two data categories plotted against a compelling map background define the sales theater for the coming year. Ninety-five percent of any company’s year-end sales results are locked in those two categories of location data – customers and prospects.
Customer address lists, with projected or previous year’s sales data included, are easily exported from the company Customer Relationship Management tool (CRM) and then imported into a business mapping software and plotted on the map by address. (Salesforce users will find this a one-step process.) These imported customer sales records, color-coded by customer type, are easily aggregated by sales dollars per territory. And each territory is clearly assigned to a sales representative.
Goals can be defined by last year’s sales plus a modifier for growth based on knowledge of opportunities in each territory.
“These are your sales goals and objectives for 2018.” Say it out loud while pointing to the territory map with a laser pointer or a pool cue. Get dramatic!
2. Explore Market Potential
By serving up carefully planned sales territory maps, managers clearly define the company’s baseline requirements in sales dollars by territory. But further sales achievements will need to come from somewhere to meet or surpass objectives and to fill gaps where projections fall short – because that’s what projections often do. That gap-filling sales activity may come from unknown accounts and markets that will unfold during the coming year.
With anticipated business mapped, an assessment of new market potential can be brought to bear to generate sales that cover shortfalls or exceed expectations. By securing and importing a series of key industry datasets, like targeted NAICS industry location data, onto a business map, the entire sales team will be able to visualize potential new markets by sales volumes, employee size, or total establishments per area. These prospective accounts will become the prospective account call list for your sales team in the coming months.
This combined business map visualization of existing business and new market potential constitutes the projected annual sales potential for your sales team. Now they see your map visualization outlining customers, prospects, and territory assignments. And they believe it. Your salesforce becomes officially engaged in meeting objectives because you’ve shared reasonable information with them.
3. Encourage Storytelling
Everyone loves a good story, whether it’s a fairy tale with a happy ending or a horror story. Sales tales come with a variety of endings.
Sales meetings use territory business maps as a platform for visualizing goals and for the generation of sales stories. At business meetings with a territory map focus, new markets and successful sales tactics are shared among sales reps. Hopefully, the winning tales offset some of the horror stories describing fading markets, lost orders, and customer nightmares. But regardless of whether shared stories are good news or bad news, sales stories help drive success.
Listening to sales stories is how people off the street learn to become salespeople. It is how new salespeople pick up good habits and how older salespeople keep their edge. Encourage sales stories.
Sure, you could hire a sales guru, for thousands of dollars to present one time and talk about:
- Sales etiquette
- Asking for the order
- Active listening
- Product knowledge
- Identifying customer pain points
- Connecting your product value to customer pain
- Identifying decision makers and the decision process
- Referral building
- CRM utilization
- Customer cancellations
- Dealing with rejection
- Commission – motivator or divider?
The list goes on. Members of your team practice all of these techniques to some extent. Encourage them to share their successful strategies and their abject failures. Share proper etiquette examples. Pair up old and new salespeople for phone calls or joint customer visits.
Shared territory maps provide the structure for indoctrinating your sales team. With sales goals projected on a screen for group visualization, sales accounts are displayed clearly. Monthly results are shared for all to see. The discussion will naturally include what works and what doesn’t work including topics like:
- Lead generation
- Product successes – How are new product releases fairing at legacy vs. new accounts?
- Sales tactics that turn off buyers
- New markets found in a territory
- How social media can help
Today sales managers probably don’t know what the next leading business sector will be, but it often is discovered when a salesperson listens to customers. Encourage shared storytelling.
4. Appropriately Share Company Strategy
To further engage your sales team, consider building strategic maps that help sketch the company direction for the next five years. By sharing general facts about company health and ideas about future growth, your sales team becomes more engaged, informed, and professional.
Remember, you want an informed sales person speaking with important customers, not a lone-wolf hack.
Shared strategic maps might include the following business visualizations:
- Competitor analysis by ZIP code or county, displaying where your business exists and where your competitors may have an edge. Competitor map reviews sharpen your team’s ability to compete
- The optimum ZIP code profile for your products. Define your optimum ZIP code based on demographic makeup, expendable income levels, product sales history
- Possible new brick and mortar retail locations or new digital channels that could expand the selling success of the company
- Company profitability by product and region. Understanding profitability by product and regions helps your sales team understand how they can most effectively benefit the bottom line
Business maps can define geographic areas of sales growth or sales deserts – by Census tract, ZIP code, county or Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). In this way, a company sales meeting can layout the profitable zones and less profitable zones. An open discussion on how sales can impact the company bottom line is an opportunity in and of itself. Trust your people and they will trust you. Educate your people and they will stimulate growth.
And sharing growth plans in good times may increase trust when the shared news isn’t so positive. Good times don’t last forever. Hard times are difficult, but trust and faith can help keep a team looking forward, and keep distractions at bay.
5. Tactical Sales Planning & CRM Utilization
A common use of business mapping is for sales planning. Business maps help make salespeople in the field more efficient by providing optimized vehicle routing tools. Choosing efficient driving directions minimizes crazy back-and-forth driving across town or county to visit customers – enabling more customer face-time and lower travel expenses.
But beyond basic efficiencies, territory map visualizations of customer and prospect lists should be the lifeblood of your inside and outside salespeople.
Customer and prospect lists are imported from the business Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM). By making sure business maps are available for your sales team, they’ll regularly pull up-to-date customers and prospects records from a central CRM database, and I know you’ve been looking for a way to encourage CRM utilization.
Easy CRM access and map customer visualizations lead to a variety of sales advantages, unlocked in part by business mapping software:
- Efficient sales call planning – increased customer facetime and phone time, with less chaos and better-prepared salespeople
- Better relationship building efforts when cancellations generate replacement prospects that eventually generate new customers
- An awareness of the business opportunities in proximity to existing customers
- Constant customer visualization tends to encourage more accurate customer and prospect records back in the CRM
Shared sales territory maps are easy to use and cost-effective to initiate. Start with free or low cost interactive map sharing. Gradually determine who on your team is map subscription worthy (they’ll be the ones asking the detailed questions) and buy those folks a subscription.
Now, couple these mapping related tactical achievements with the general benefits of shared sales territory mapping. Your sales team is clear on their goals for the coming year. Your more efficient salespeople are now making unplanned cold calls on new prospects. Your informed and engaged sales pros have a greater sense of company direction and they understand your rules of your road. Customer interactions are more effective.
By applying shared business maps, you’ve invested in your sales team. Now get out of the way. They’ve got work to do.