For salespeople who work on commission, sales route planning is a cost of doing business. Every minute you spend thinking about your route or driving it is a minute you’re not engaged in an income-generating activity. Save time and money by systematizing your planning process to make your route more efficient and more productive.
Employ a contact management system to serve as the foundation of your sales route planning. Use a spreadsheet to list your contacts, their addresses and contact information. Include a column to categorize the contacts according to where they are in your sales cycle. Add additional columns to list the frequency with which you need to call on each contact, the date of the last call and to jot down notes about the outcome of that call and your goals for the next one.
Map your customers’ locations. Choose an appropriate mapping and routing tool for the number of accounts you service. Google Maps or an inexpensive commercial tool such as Dashfly might be adequate for 25 accounts or fewer. More advanced software can map and route unlimited contacts.
Refer to your spreadsheet to determine which accounts have the highest priority. Plan your days around these high-priority accounts. Consult your map to identify which you can visit on the same day. Fill in extra time with lower priority calls in the same geographic area. Maintain a logical mix where your sales cycle is concerned — keep new business in the pipeline while providing consistently attentive service to current clients.
Create a file folder for each contact to hold notes, sales literature and other materials.
Enter the addresses of each account you’re going to visit on a particular day in your route mapping software or in the driving directions section of Google Maps or your GPS device. Mapping software plans the most logical route automatically. Free services such as Google Maps require that you swap the positions of your destinations until the map shows a route with a logical order. Positions are determined by the order in which you enter the destination addresses. The step-by-step driving directions change each time you change destination positions.
Update your spreadsheet and add notes at the end of each day. Organize the material in each folder, if necessary, so it’s ready for the next time you visit that account.