For the full article with comments please visit: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-best-sales-territory-alignment-software-startup-stewart-berry
Creating real territories, with defined boundaries, is fundamental and crucial for many industries and for organizations of all sizes. Finding an application that allows you to create the territories that you want and in a straightforward way is harder than you would think. Especially if you want to do this on a budget as a startup, or if your alignment requires the territories to have equal characteristics such as sales or population.
Creating territories is usually driven by two key factors: necessity and/or fairness.
Franchises may need to create legal definitions of the territory for each franchisee, based on metrics that prevent cannibalization between identical outlets, while providing a sustainable market area. Franchises are also concerned with negative sales impact and encroachment, so being able to update the underlying geography, demographics and sales information is crucial for real world, non-static, territory analysis. Areas (such as ZIP Codes) must be able to be moved into and out of territories, with the impact on sales and target population tracked as you make changes.
For sales representatives, having a defined sales territory prevents cannibalization, and when done right, offers fair opportunities for each rep. In addition, territory specific marketing can be conducted and optimized by territory, such as mailing campaigns, bill boards, and promotions. It is important to prevent sales reps from competing against one another for the same prospect because this results in wasted time, resources, and fuel on routes that while optimized per sales rep, are not optimized by sales team.
Indeed, when conducting market research, competitor analysis, and territory/franchise alignments, it is critical to understand the geographic context of your service area. Working within an echo chamber of your own sales team, without consideration of their geographic overlap, let alone overlap from competitors, is a risky approach.
When choosing a software application for territory management you should, in most cases, ensure that the product offers tools for both optimized routes and territory boundary creation. Integrated maps that support the use of these tools out-of-the-box is another big consideration because of the time and money savings provided by this ready-to-use data. Being able to create territories based on a table or Excel spreadsheet is also a common and critical feature.
There are surprisingly few applications that meet the above criteria of an effective business mapping tool that supports the business needs of the user without requiring extensive learning or investment. MapPoint is one such tool but the sale of MapPoint will be completely discontinued at the end of 2016. Another such product is the popular and widely used Maptitude.
Ways to Create Territories
In the following sections we discuss the various methods for territory creation (let me know in the comments if you create territories in ways that are not mentioned here!)
Often a territory is an area that is made up of several smaller areas “merged” together. For example, sales territories or market areas might be made up of groups of postal zones, counties, or other regions:
Maptitude sales territory map software can map territories from smaller areas, such as states and provinces, with your data attached.
There are two key ways that people want to create territories:
- Interactively by clicking on features in a map such as postal areas
- Manually by drawing whatever boundary lines are required regardless of existing geography
It is also common for territories to overlap or for territories to be defined by streets.
Interactive Territory Creation
To support point-and-click territory creation the software should have:
- A wizard that walks you through importing your region, county, or postal data directly into a new territory map. This tool should be able create your territories based on whatever data filters and queries you require. Further, the territories you create should be able to overlap in as many places as required with maps that allow you to easily distinguish overlaps.
Maptitude sales area mapping software allows you to create overlapping territories and visualize them with an “edge-based” color theme.
- A manager that easily lets you modify and maintain your territories using ZIP Codes, counties, states or other areas. There should be simple ways to monitor the values that you chose to equalize your territories on, such as population, number of customers, sales volume, or any other variable.
Sales territory mapping by ZIP Code. Group together ZIP Codes to make ZIP Code territories that are balanced by sales, customers, population, or other values.
- A tool for manually creating, adding, moving, or splitting areas by drawing boundary lines. You should also be able to add and edit areas using features such as roads, railroads, or rivers. Overlapping areas should be editable and overlaps should automatically “snap” as you make changes.
- Point-and-click and lasso tools for individually choosing the features that make up a territory. For each territory you should be able to view demographic totals (e.g., high-income earners, households) and a count of the number of combined zones (such as Postal/ZIP Codes).
Automated Territory Creation
There are two common ways that territories are automatically created:
- A “straight-line distance” tool determines the areas closest to each of your facilities by building areas of influence (Thiessen Polygons or a Voronoi Diagram), and estimates the attributes and demographics within each area to identify areas that are under- or over-served. This tool draws a (Euclidean or as-the-crow-flies distance) line half-way between each of your locations to give you a quick visualization of your service areas.
Another Maptitude territory mapping tool determines areas of influence based on straight-line distances to identify areas that are under- or over-served.
- A merge by category tool uses a field already in a table as the basis for creating territories. The areas, such as postal zones, are grouped based on a field that contains the territory codes. The tool automatically computes the attributes of the new areas using any number of additional fields such as population or number of competitors.
There are also tools that automatically “balance” territories so that they are the same size or so that they contain equal numbers of customers, sales, population, or any other value.
- “Street-based” territory tools draw a line half-way between each of your locations based on travel time or travel cost, which is an improvement over the “straight-line distance” tool above. Such territories can even be weighted by the size of each location, the number of clients, or the amount of revenue, ensuring that the most successful facilities dominate smaller ones proportionately. Such tools allow the complete assignment of a market, allowing your territories to be easily visualized by sales representatives.
Maptitude includes a territory mapping tool for creating street-based territories such as these that are based on the shortest travel time to various stores.
- “Partitioning” tools organize postal zones, counties, or other regions into territories based on proximity or similarity, to produce territories that are contiguous, compact, and balanced. Partitioning supports service territory alignment, sales and marketing, political redistricting, and the redrawing of constituency boundaries.
- “Clustering” tools organize customers, facilities, or areas into groups that are compact and can be serviced efficiently. Territories can be restricted to a certain size, such as by the maximum number of customers that that each franchise is allotted. Clustering is very flexible and can be used to efficiently manage sales force deployment.
What is the best sales territory alignment software for a startup?
Maptitude is one of the few applications that has the variety of routing and territory tools that meet the varied needs of a startup, at a price that doesn’t break the bank, while being considered easy-to-use by its broad customer base.
Unlike many other mapping and GIS software packages that require users to purchase data separately, Maptitude is a professional territory map creator that includes extensive geographic and demographic data so that you can immediately start creating territories.
For more information on Maptitude GIS please visit www.MappingSoftware.com.
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