As busy as sales and marketing pros get nowadays, the thought of learning new software is enough to make one pour your mocha latte on your laptop. Still, we have to admit, the idea of facing our business day armed only with a land line, a note-book, and a pen is frightening. Like this morning’s TWC outage! How would we manage our businesses without our CRM, email tools, Internet searches and spreadsheet software?
Over time business mapping software is becoming a standard tool set for successful sales and marketing pros and for business managers in general. Leveraging location intelligence to visualize your customers, future customers, and competitors informs your strategic direction and keeps your business ahead of the pack.
One major reason for this is because business mapping software converts a simple customer list – a CRM generated spreadsheet of customer or prospect addresses – into real locations on the Earth. Your customers become point on the Earth that you can see – that you can virtually and physically inspect for further opportunities. This is the process of data visualization and location intelligence gathering.
Seeing is Realizing
Visualizing your business data on a map means you can now think about more than just a particular customer. You can consider how many possible other potential customers exist within a given radius of your existing customers. To reiterate, business mapping software can depict an existing customer location on a map with a circle around it that highlights a list of prospective customers within that circle. Now you can imagine doing business with neighboring businesses in addition to similar businesses.
A radius search reveals existing opportunities that you or your sales people can explore as part of a regular customer sales call. Perhaps you’ve purchased a business list from services such as Info-Group or Experian that allow you to search for customers by NAICS code or by common industry verticals. You can add these contacts to your business mapping software. Now you are leveraging the power of map visualization to expand your list of opportunities. You are turning a one-dimensional sales call into an exploration of possibilities. Over time your business will generate more sales this way. See it on a map and realize the sales.
Answering questions should be critical to your strategic business plan. Where are my customers? Where are my competitors? Where are my opportunities? Competitor maps – maps that show where your competitors are doing business – can be used to help understand where you may be missing opportunities. With business mapping software, you are a simple spreadsheet away from viewing those answers.
Viewing your competition’s locations against a demographic map or a metropolitan area map can help you make informed decisions about new branch locations, new sales routes, hiring practices, or intelligence gathering. Perhaps in your planning process you decide to take no new hiring action at all this year, but you make that decision based on your business intelligence – data you’ve gathered using tools at your disposal. Business mapping software should be part of that analysis.
Are your competitors using business mapping software? There are at least eight businesses offering online mapping software on the Internet. Google it. Prices start at around $250 per year – and they all have free trials of some kind. How likely is it that your competition is Googling mapping software too? It is very likely.
Patterns on a Map
If you could display five years of sales location on a map, each year in different color schemes, what would that tell you? I bet your sales densities have changed over time. Do you know why? Have you shared a map view like this with your sales team and had an open discussion about it?
Different people view maps in different ways. A money-obsessed, top performing sales associate will pick up on big opportunities, low hanging fruit that will quickly fatten his paycheck. But the very same map view might inspire more subtle possibilities to a more technically focused sales person. Her perspective may reveal a trend based on technical shifts which could point to new business models critical to the overall future of the company. For instance she might recognize areas where a new fiber line was installed last year and how that telecom infrastructure enhancement leads to new business opportunities. Share your maps with your constituents and gather their intelligence.
The Demographic View
Another aspect of business mapping software pioneered by Microsoft MapPoint is the addition of demographic data as a map layer. Simply viewing the whole USA based on population densities or median income numbers can help you decide where to focus sales efforts over the next period. A report of zip codes, counties, or metro areas displaying population and median income can quickly eliminate areas of low potential and provide more effective direction for a limited resource – your sales team.
Business maps can reveal patterns, trends, and business shifts that unlock opportunities and can provide critical clues for changes in strategic and tactical direction. A digital map is a marvelous method of gaining business intelligence. Do not ignore the opportunities presented by online business mapping software; because there is no guarantee that your competitors are more ignorant than you are.
MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as a MapPoint alternative.
Let a digital map help you learn about your business.
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