Every business spends money on software programs that support business activities. Companies spend millions on Oracle, SAP, or other ERP systems. CRM systems are somewhat less expensive to license, with costs in the thousands of dollars. Word processing and spreadsheet software licenses for the entire employee team often entail office-wide licensing agreements. As expensive as all these software options may be, their value to a business is well known based on decades of general use.
Less well understood by the general business community is the value of business mapping software.
Business mapping provides four basic tools that other software services cannot provide:
- An accurate visual model of the physical world, complete with administrative district layers, world views down to street level detail, and associated demographic data
- Address Geocoding – the ability to convert address (or Lat/Long) spreadsheets into accurately mapped location points that are tied to tabular data fields
- Search and draw tools that organize and classify administrative districts into areas of interest, or territories – commonly applied as sales territory mapping
- The ability to filter and report collated data by geographic elements – by ZIP code, distance, drive time, or map object
The value of business mapping is manifest through its unique geographic perspectives that only a map overlaid with location-based business data reveals. A carefully crafted business map can provide an organization with tactical and strategic direction. Business maps offer the structure to communicate company goals, and with established business model used to generate a viable market analysis.
Address Lists vs. Areas of Concentration
A prospect/customer list may contain a thousand names, or it may contain a million names. Regardless of how many names it holds, it’s still just a list. The same customer list geocoded onto a compelling digital map immediately reveals valuable and visual business intelligence. These customer related map visualizations may include:
- Areas of customer concentrations or density maps where additional sales support may be warranted
- Customer dearth areas, underserved markets where more sales coverage is required, stat
- Revenue generation patterns that define the most lucrative areas by city or ZIP code leading to market analysis profiles that will generate new business
Sales Territory Maps Post Progress Toward Goals
Sales territory maps designate areas of accountability by rep. Typically these ZIP code or county maps define where a salesperson will spend their time, focus their sales efforts, and accrue sales against a company goal. Regular reviews of progress toward goal keep a salesperson focused on the right objectives and motivated to increase their compensation. Last time I checked, there is serious value in salespeople achieving goals.
Sales territory maps often expose legacy sales assignments with overlapping coverage areas and redundancy in rep assignments. These overlapping territories are valuable opportunities to improve efficiencies.
Shared territory maps help to inculcate the sales team with skills. Maps are the perfect backdrop to regular sales meetings where account successes and failures are discussed, policies are reviewed, and winning strategies are discovered, cultivated and shared.
A crucial component to territory progress meetings is the discussion of new opportunities. Hungry and open-minded sales reps often stumble across new markets. These fledgling opportunities will eventually blossom into the industries of tomorrow that constitute most of the company revenue in the future. Mature industries like paper mills, fossil fuels, and hospitals will be supplanted overtime by biomedical, alternative energy, and home-care companies, ad infinitum. IMHO, the value of developing new markets is inestimable.
A good place to begin any short-term or long-term strategic plan is with a business map. An accurate description of an existing marketplace will define the baseline business situation for the entire business team. Sales objectives and business expansion plans may be combined to outline a path forward based on growth potential. These business plans may include map-based business analysis of several specific types:
- Market Analysis – An analysis of potential markets based on existing business success. Seek new ZIP codes or counties that match your business’s best performing demographic profiles
- Competitor Analysis – Location based depictions of existing competition in critical markets help define the marketplace. Competitor maps allow any business to see what it’s up against. Relevant industry resources for both you and your competitors should be included in competitor analysis. Take into consideration, company branch locations, critical resources, and sales associates’ start-of-day locations
- Unique Industry Elements – Every industry has its basic elements and some of them may have location components. For instance, the automobile tire business can be described through car model sales, driver registrations by county or ZIP code, automobile tire retail locations, and tire wholesale locations
A business map provides the visualization tools an astute business leader will use to describe both existing business and company growth plans for moving the organization forward. Maps and sales territory images communicate critical elements in a way that most associates will understand immediately. People like looking at maps. Maps are visually pleasing. In this way, a map communicates the underlying business intelligence required to support plans for growth. Just imagine how long it would take associates to grasp a business plan from a spreadsheet.
The Value of the Unexpected
Business mapping software, like it’s more complicated big brother Geographic Information Systems (GIS), often surprises the business user with unexpected business insights that only a geographic perspective can provide.
These surprise map views might improve public safety. For instance, serial robberies viewed geographically can lead to perpetrator apprehension because these views tend to narrow down the field of suspects from practically anyone to someone who lives in area X, drives a blue car, and has worked in the food delivery service. Most police departments access basic GIS services for the purpose of solving crimes.
Known felon home address records overlaid on a digital crime map may reveal possible repeat offenders that must be considered in cases that endanger the public. Such a case occurred in Maine just last year.
Retailers may unexpectedly discover, through a map-based study of traffic patterns, reasons behind a slow-down in business. Consumers may willingly and frequently travel a ten-minute car ride to your store. But adjust that traffic pattern such that the driving time drifts to twenty minutes and sales may plummet. Before and after maps, based on population, income, and drive time may display new patterns in your business.
Successful businesses seeking to expand into new areas will seek map based business analysis to confirm or discover which areas promise to be the most lucrative. Maps overlaid with business data tell stories; valuable stories.
In each of these cases, business maps are adding value to a business process or organization’s analysis. While there may be businesses out there processing data with no location information, it’s a rare occurrence. In general, businesses that are processing location data, data with addresses or geographic coordinates, and they can benefit from the application of business mapping.
There’s significant value in business mapping software. It is a tool for growing sales, expanding markets, and understanding business trends. If your business doesn’t value those capabilities, well, there are other places to work.
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