The real power of business mapping software is the visualization of business data against a geographic map covering the extent of where you do business.
For first time users, these new map views are often revelatory leading to changes in how business is transacted. These business changes may not be Earth-shattering but they generally improve sales results. For old timers, these map views are reliable sources of business intelligence that may help inform responses to our rapidly changing marketplaces.
What is your marketplace? Door-to-door? A variety store catering to a neighborhood? Google searches – Ad Words and SEO? AWS? Business mapping can help any market grow.
These business map generated, business intelligence insights impact sales and marketing behavior in these ways:
- Sales Territory creation or territory alignment adjustments based on travel histories and customer sales records. Map views tend to suggest more effective ways of account assignment and catering to customers.
- The discovery of new market opportunities by templating success in one area and finding demographically similar markets in new areas. Maps overlaid with demographic data will suggest new areas to mine.
- The discovery of new industry opportunities unveiled through map-based sales story sharing. Sales meetings centered around territory or coverage maps encourages discussion of new account success – critical to developing new industries for your products and services.
- Viewing competitor maps that honestly describe how your business compares to the major competition. Maps tend to expose physical presence, logistical advantages, in addition to financial strength.
- Strategic planning maps provide a comprehensive assessment of various business aspects. Creating multiple map views may provide new insights into strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
For your specific business, there may be a different set of map iterations that generate critical business intelligence. Other location-based business intelligence factors that could be mapped: critical industry resources, traffic patterns, epidemics, infestations, and storm damage heat maps.
But sometimes an overactive company vision can stand in the way of map-derived business intelligence.
Company Vision Gone Bad
Entrepreneurs and business owners tend to have vision. It’s one reason they are where they are. Idea people can be unstoppable – which is usually a good thing. More on idea people – from the movie Night Shift, 1982. But sometimes a visionary can become so locked into his or her ideas that they limit the outcome of business analysis and sales campaigns. When this happens the business can suffer from vision block.
Vision block can be a serious drain on the power of map visualizations. In sales territory management, for example, vision block might be management’s refusal to reallocate high dollar value legacy sales accounts from a single senior sales associate to the general sales pool based on location. In the 1980’s I worked for a company that assigned the paper mill business to one or two senior salespeople. By 1995 the paper business was virtually gone, and the company struggled to find replacement industries for their cash cow. Experience sales people exited the company. Sales plummeted.
I believe spreading your sales experience around the marketplace encourages the development of new markets and helps train new sales associates through team account calls. Concentrating your most experienced sales associates on lucrative mature accounts leads to stagnation and revenue loss.
Solution: Create sales territory maps that share sales goals and results. Seek to balance these accounts by geography, sales revenue, and key demographics. Spread your experienced people around.
I’ve worked with a few seasoned sales executives who begin and end all product and business development conversations with the question, “What’s your market?” And I get it, it is important to know what market your product is best suited for and focus like a laser on those customers. But vision block could prevent a sales department from exploring potential new markets.
New markets are critical to a growth plan for what should be obvious reasons:
- New markets replace fading markets
- Unplanned revenue sources can make up for account loss, competitor encroachment, attrition
- New markets can lead to entirely new business plans and product lines
A software product suited perfectly for the oil and gas mid-stream market would appear to present the perfect customer base. The industry is well known, with a viable future and pays their bills on time. New interest in that same software product from the alternative energy markets might seem a stretch at first. But, an open mind will discover that those two energy markets ebb and flow on nearly opposite cycles and supporting both markets will, in fact, be great for business viability and growth.
Solution: Make new market opportunities a component of any strategic sales plan. Provide salespeople with prospective buyer contact lists through tactical map sharing. Encourage alternative market exposure at map-based sales meetings.
Keep Your Vision Block to Yourself
Finally, it is important for management to delegate map creation responsibilities to a map creator or team of map creators, and then get out of the way.
Building business maps is a creative process and a process of discovery. It’s not unusual for map results to uncover problems that businesses didn’t know they had. And remember, that’s good news. Bad news early always trumps bad news late.
Too often the vision guy insists on seeing certain data projected against a specific map view. Resist that urge!
Solution: Let your people develop maps from scratch and see what they come up with. You can always develop your vision map separately.
Business maps are great when combined with intelligent associates, familiar with the front line issues of your business. Encourage map building and map sharing.
Let geographic views shine a new perspective on your critical business intelligence. Analyze, grow and compete.
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Contact: Geoffrey Ives email@example.com or Jason Henderson firstname.lastname@example.org