Map Business Online Blog

Read about business mapping and how it can help your business succeed.

Business Mapping Software for Small Businesses

Small businesses require their employees to wear many hats. Many hat syndrome is both part of the fun and part of the pain of running a small business. A small business is not likely to have excess money on hand to cover the costs of big mistakes. Start-ups and small businesses run lean and mean to survive and grow. They must be cost conscious and wary of over-reach. Many small businesses contact Map Business Online to explore the power of location enabled views of their business data.

Business Mapping is Affordable
One simple reason for this interest is that business mapping software is extremely affordable.  A single subscriber can access customer visualization or market analysis tools for less than $300 and begin to supplement operational work flows with mapping software while planning sales and marketing campaigns based on location analysis.

A small business, highly dependent on local customers, stands to benefit greatly from local market analysis based on zip codes, counties or even Census tracts.  These smaller geographic districts provide segmented views of sales and marketing results adding location-based analysis results to strategic planning. Zip code maps and Census tract maps easily correlate your business data with population or house hold income statistics. For instance, a small home care agency might overlay its existing patient census along with the local population of 65 year-olds and older on top of your operating zip codes.  Such correlation can help define market potential, perhaps even map out-patient census growth over a three years period. Now they can answer the question: are these key population groups rising or falling in our market area? Do we need more staff or less for 2016? Demographic maps add new dimensions to your small business analysis.

Because small businesses have limited budgets, ERP and CRM systems may be planned future investment while immediate customer tracking is maintained in Microsoft Excel or some other low-cost database management tool. Business mapping tools are a great supplement for basic business tracking systems. A simple address database exported to a digital map software turns an Excel customer list into an array of points viewed against a map, color coded by customer type.  Monthly sales by customer can be aggregated map-side into quarterly results by sales territory. Such business maps easily provide shared views on how sales efforts are progressing, while suggesting new prospecting areas for potential sales in the next quarter and beyond.  You know what question this helps to answer: How are we going to double sales in twelve months? Every sales manager’s favorite question.

Business Mapping is Easy
That small biz multi-hat requirement leaves little time for in-depth market analysis. By exporting your address enabled business data to an accurate business map your usual business analysis and strategic plans can quickly take shape on the fly. A revenue dollars by location spreadsheet, in a few easy steps, becomes a regional heat map view of sales that immediately shows your team where and how things are happening.

Business maps add credibility to a small or large business manager’s sales plan. It’s one thing to purchase a list of names and direct the sales team to start dialing for dollars.  [Idea for future blog title: Cold Calling: Dead or Alive?] But it’s an entirely more credible approach to initiate a prospecting campaign based on demographic analysis of an unassigned market area that happens to coincide with an up-tick in inquiries your team has reported. This is sales leadership. It’s the difference between a room full of hourly employees dutifully dialing a call-list while watching the clock, and a motivated sales team exploring a hot list of leads based on pertinent field data they helped uncover. Which team would you rather be on?

Some companies use business mapping software to analyze daily or weekly operational results. This could apply to shipping results, sales call results, or product output. All your data requires to be an effective source to location-based analysis are locations – addresses, zip codes, lat-lons – whatever works.  Display the manufacturing location. Show ship-to addresses and your ship-from locations.  You can add all the additional data you want. It should only enhance your business map’s effectiveness.

Import Your Location Based Business Data
One of the greatest challenges a small business faces is defining its primary reason for being.  I’m not suggesting business mapping software can solve this challenge, but it can be a part of the solution. Sometimes a business knows exactly what its primary purpose is. For example, a business that produces and sells Maine made whoopee pies is focused on just that product.  Managers for Maine Whoopee Pies LLC might simply concentrate on producing more efficiently and selling to more stores and restaurants.
Tenant Locations
Maine’s Best Bakery (MBB) on the other hand might not be so clear on purpose.  This company offers a broader selection of baked goods. They cater to a half-dozen niche markets, each demanding a unique product.  At some point the diversification begins to drive up raw material costs and create inefficiencies in production.  Time for a strategic review of sales history to determine the most profitable products and markets.  A business mapping tool can quickly establish basic facts that can inform strategic MBB’s business analysis:

  • Import a dataset showing where MBB products are sold and color code  the data to display net revenue, and profit margin by location for 2015. Make note of the three most profitable sales locations.
  • Develop cost of delivery estimates for each sale based on a standard cost per mile calculation
  • Add demographic data to your map view, including population and median income by zip code, for five-mile radii surrounding each sales location
  • Import an additional data layer showing MBB’s known baking competitors in all of the business’ operating areas and beyond

It’s important to understand your business’ operating area by profitability, costs of goods sold, and competitor presence.  Adding  a demographic layer to your map extends your operating area potential; it let’s you view similar demographic areas where you may not currently play. Perhaps sharing a similar business map slides of your company’s operating areas might inspire some interesting strategic discussion amongst your key people?

Wearing many hats may include a white chef’s hat, a hair net, or a strategic planner’s green visor cap. It’s all part of the thrill of life in a small business.  No matter what your hat says think business mapping software to afford-ably supplement your business processes and add that certain ‘je ne c’est quoi’ to your whoopee pie.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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Create and Manage Franchise Sales Territories Using Map Business Online


Franchise businesses require particular business mapping features. These features are usually related to defining areas of market responsibility across franchisee operations. Map Business Online is a great solution for franchises seeking to share sales territory maps that define areas of operation.

Franchise businesses sell individual market areas that could be assigned to online stores or actual brick and mortar store fronts. Theses business opportunities come with specific products, pricing, and rules of doing business.  These franchise opportunities are sold using contracts that define exact areas of market responsibility, usually based on zip codes.  This is not to say theses franchise areas couldn’t be defined by states, counties, cities or even Census tracts or Census Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) but in general we receive inquiries for franchise territories based on zip codes. These zip code areas of responsibility are made up of designated lists of zip codes which can be turned into zip code maps that define franchise operating areas.

Franchise sales executives turn to Map Business Online for business mapping features that include:

  • The ability to define franchise market areas of responsibility by zip code
  • Alternative geographies for areas of market responsibility – County, State, Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Census Tracts, and City Limits
  • Franchise territory overlap display showing areas of territory overlap between organizations
  • Color shading by zip code or other geographic base units
  • Color coding imported location points or customer locations by symbol
  • The ability to create franchise territory assignments based on demographic data – most commonly population, medium Income, or age distribution
  • The ability to create franchise territory assignments by imported sales metrics – sales dollars by territory, customer count by territory, or other business defined metrics
  • The ability to share franchise maps via printing, image file saving, or interactive map sharing
  • The ability to perform market analysis – competitor maps, demographic analysis, expansion maps

Color Coding by Area

One of the most requested aspects of franchise territory support is color shading by zip code. Franchise sales organizations prefer to color their zip codes in a way that reflects sales responsibility or territory availability. Map Business Online enables color shading in a variety of ways.

Franchisee areas are usually created and color coded at the same time. An MBO map creator can import a list of franchise names associated with zip codes and create territories automatically. The tool also enables incremental territory construction – using your mouse and the shift key, click one zip code at a time to build your market area. You can also create franchise sales territories using a polygon tool to lasso a bunch of zips or perhaps apply the drive time tool to define a group of zip codes within a half hour’s drive time of a specified address.
Franchisee
The tool supports geographic filtering or spatial searches as well as filtering by data. Filtering by data means you could search for patterns in zip code numbers. Show me all the zip codes between 80100 and 80600 and create a territory from them.

With your territories selected, the map creator may apply naming schemes as required.   Import data calculation results into the territory name field, like total population or sales activity. Use that name field to drive map comprehension.Map Business Online let’s your team us the language of your business in maps of your business.

Franchise Territory Overlap

Whether sales territory overlap is allowed or disallowed, Map Business Online provides the tool to enable overlap.  In this way your organization has the opportunity to identify overlapping territories and address the issue as required.

Some organizations turn on the overlap tool as a hedge against creating overlap. “Oops that red zip code means I overlapped those two zips.” A simple mouse click or two, and the problem is solved.

Other organizations will allow some overlap but want to make it crystal clear where those overlapping areas are and where they are not. Still others use overlap display as a way to identify and qualify no-man’s land for future franchise development.

Sharing and Storing Map Related Images

Like many contracts, franchise business agreements describe transaction fees, services rendered, areas of responsibility, and business rules. These documents could be emailed, snail mailed, or simply placed in a folder for future reference. Maps are often included to assure clarity in defining market areas of responsibility.

Map Business Online encourages multiple methods of sharing. Static maps are sharable as embedded image files easily placed in a document or a Power Point presentation.  Franchise territory maps can be printed and filed with paper contracts. Some companies may even prefer to utilize shared interactive web map links as a way to communicate territories. And you could use  Map Business Online itself as a presentation tool should you desire it. I do it all the time.

More Functionality

There are probably many more ways MBO can support a franchise organization.  The only way we’ll know is if you ask. And if you don’t find the functionality you seek we’ll consider adding functionality if the request is in keeping with our general development direction. So don’t hesitate to ask and suggest future feature directions.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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Ask Not What A Business Map Can Do For You

Ask instead what a business map can do for your business. The answer to that question will vary depending upon your business. Think about your company or organization’s primary goals.  Is your business focused on servicing people or is your company focused on simply driving revenue?  Business mapping tools provide benefits for both types of organizations but in slightly different ways.

Territory Management

Let’s look at territory management. For a company whose primary goal is driving revenue or profit, effective and clearly communicated sales territory management can provide clear guidelines for success, a place for sharing progress toward goals, and many ways to drive accountability into the sales organization.

Applying business sales territory designs to your business will inevitably help drive revenue. You grow what you track. Use territory mapping tools to define where your salespeople can and should sell.  Use route planning software and drive time tools to minimize windshield time. Reduce overlap and legacy relationships that may no longer drive revenue. Sales managers know exactly what I’m talking about here. Leverage the power of business geography to apply these fixes and then use the map to share the results. You’ll be amazed at how a little map communication can enhance your business processes.

Organizations focused on servicing people can also benefit from territory mapping tools. What home care agency doesn’t want to minimize clinicians and aides driving back and forth across town to service patients?  Establishing clear areas of responsibility drives efficiency and productivity into your organization. And there’s a difference between the two.  Reducing day-to-day travel expenses is a result of efficient route planning with minimal overlap between staff members. Reducing travel times while increasing face time with patients improves overall productivity. More productivity is going to:

  • Keep more patients at home for longer periods
  • Increase the satisfaction of your patients
  • Both of above points will drive more referrals

Now that is productivity and it starts with establishing territories.

Drive Time Analysis

Understanding the time it takes to drive from point A to point B to point C may, at times, be critical to your business.  Business mapping software can conduct this analysis for you quickly and in multiple ways. Perhaps it’s simply answering the question of how long will it take me to get to my meeting on time based on a generated multi-stop route.  I have two stops prior to my meeting. This calculation is dirt simple and will provide a reasonable estimate of your time to drive. But what if you want to know how long it will take for the closest 50,000 households, making more than $75,000 per year, to reach your retail outlet? A drive time map can answer that question.

In fact drive time analysis can be easily converted into demographic analysis simply by assigning demographic categories to any zip codes touched by a drive time polygon. For more granular detail use Census tracts instead of zip codes. And don’t stop there. Import a list of competitor locations to get a sense of where the competition locates their stores.

I always find a business map increases in value as you stare at it. The longer you look, the more data you find.

And Drive Time analysis is great for operational planning too.  Home care agencies use drive time estimates to determine how far a clinician or aide must drive to reach a group of clients. Here are a few scenarios home care agencies might implement:

  • Develop maps that display all clients residing within a half hour drive of a clinician’s home address. These half hour drive time territories could become a standard rule for client assignment, designed to lower fuel costs and increase client face-time
  • Create a business map showing the current client/clinician locations during a week prior to a holiday weekend to help plan for the hospital release/admission rush common at these times. Knowing your current staffing realities helps better position your agency for periods of overload.
  • Create an outlier map showing clients living beyond a 40 minute drive of all clinicians. Are there more than one? Is there a reason to hire a clinician to cover a new area? Should these clients be referred to other agencies or contractors?

Ask Instead, Again

Now perhaps driving revenue and caring for people isn’t your company’s bailiwick. Many business mapping users work for organizations dedicated to other things.  Here are a few examples:

  • Billboard management firms
  • Waster material collection and recycling
  • Lawn mowing companies
  • Copier repair services
  • Insurance claim management
  • Booze distribution and wholesale
  • Compressed air machine distribution
  • Ice cream retailer franchises
  • Nation-wide flower distribution and wholesale
  • Real estate mortgage management
  • Banks and finance companies
  • Robotic companies
  • Houseware and gift sales orgs
  • Manufacturers rep associations
  • Truck distribution and repair
  • Moving companies

That list was generated by looking at my notes covering the last two weeks’ of incoming calls.  Ask not where all these companies come from, ask instead why they all are using Map Business Online.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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How Can I Derive Distances Between Two Datasets Using Map Business Online?

In Map Business Online you can compare datasets to determine distances between too datasets. Lately we’ve had a run of requests for this exact map application.  That’s how business mapping features requests come in, you here no requests for that specific feature for months at a time then suddenly everyone wants that one feature. Cue the theme from the Twilight Zone.

Feature Problem Statement:  I need to show one point on the map – a Business Location, and then import a second, separate data set of address locations and show the distances between each of the new locations and the original business location. I also want to show the distance when I hover over each point.

Making this happen in MBO involves multiple processes but we primarily will focus on the Business Analysis tool.  First, of course, you import your Excel spreadsheet, text file or CSV file. Remember, when you bring in data to include column headers and have separate columns for Address, City, State, and Zip code (or lat/long columns and headers as the case may be.)

As you import be sure to take advantage of the five flexible fields that show up when a user hovers over a symbol on the map.  We’re going to come back to this flex field function a little later, to edit those fields.

There they are, symbols nicely arrayed on the map that represent your customer or business locations.  I will color code my data by Type, but you do what you want with your data. To each his own.  Remember, you can import your own labels should you desire it.

To create a new single point on the map for my Business Location I can either key an address into the address bar – upper left hand White Address Box above the tool bar – or I can drop a point using the Draw Tool Add Location with Callout button – click Add Location after touching the map.  Either way I get a point on the map and a mini-tool bar under the point. Along that mini-tool bar click the middle button Copy Location to Dataset.  Choose the New option. Rename the New Dataset you are making to Business Location. Business Location is now a Dataset in the Map & Data tab. See it checked On in the Map & Data list.

Now I need to apply the Market Analysis tool. I choose the Second option down from the top – Find nearest store. In the top drop down I select my originally imported dataset with the many locations. That’s my “Customer Locations.” In Market Analysis we refer to the two data sets being compared as customers and store locations. It could be anything – drop-off points and warehouse, parishioner homes and church, or even politician office locations and the nearest prison.

In the bottom drop down I choose my Business Location dataset. That’s my store.  I choose no maximum distance, because I want them all. And I rewrite the text that says Store to now say Distance to Business Location. Write whatever you want. Now click Next.

The returned data in the Data Window should show my original dataset with a new column labeled Distance to Business Location.  These records should show distances in that column. Awesome possum.  Now let’s think about those points on the map again.

How can we show distances when we hover over those points?  We can edit those five flexible fields we set up when we imported our data. You might ask, ‘How?’ Well I’m going to tell you how.

In Map & Data hover your mouse cursor over the data target layer (your imported data), click the Edit Gear that pops up. Choose the Callout Tab. Click Format Callouts.  I can tell you’re getting excited. In that left panel scroll down to choose one of the five flex field options listed. Underneath whichever one you want to use, drop down to the data column labeled Distance to Business Location.  Choose that column.  You can edit the text a little if you feel it’s necessary.  Now click Change Callouts and go hover over one of those points on the map.

High fives all around. Mission accomplished.

What I love about this application example, and about Map Business Online in general, (and you may have heard me say this before) is that it provides so many editable features so you can make your map sing to your map audience. Every business uses its own vernacular and business processes to represent what it does.  Map Business Online, with a little research, can help you describe and possibly better manage your own business work flows using maps.

So the next time you bring a map into the corner office, don’t let Poke-a-Hole-In-It Phil distract from your point with stupid questions designed to make you look bad. Use MBO to clean up your map and tell your story in a way that speaks to your audience. You could even reset a legend line to say: “Suck an egg Phil,”  in case it’s your last day.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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Who Put the Business in Business Mapping Software?

New customers to Map Business Online often ask questions about customizing their business map data layers for their map viewing audience or their team shared-map editors. It’s natural that before you jump into a new technical product you want assurances that tool will work adequately for your team.

The truth is Map Business Online is rarely customized by our software developers for specific customers. If it is customized it generally involves creating an entirely new hosted product that entails a larger business opportunity for both Map Business Online and for the customer. It’s not cheap but could be a winner for the right opportunity. Don’t hesitate to ask about such customizations.

However, Map Business Online as released is in fact very customizable by the business map customer using the tools already provided. This means the application is designed to give business customers plenty of opportunities to customize their maps up to support their specific work flows. It’s kind of what we’re all about. We made Map Business Online to be a mapping software that can enhance your work in a variety of ways.

Templates
Firstly, the new MBO map administrator or creator can establish customer mapping that represents their basic business data visualizations and save them as a template for their users start from. This is especially effective for team sharing applications where you can pro-actively share a map, complete with imported data layers and geographic map layers, for your team to use as a starter map for more detailed work.
Import the data you want, keeping in mind that any data you import will be shared with your team and anyone they share with. If you don’t want someone to see it – don’t import it. Once you’ve got the map to your liking, save it as a MyTemplate map. Then go through the sharing process with your team or map viewing audience, as the case warrants.

Map Templates allow you to control what your editors and viewers start with. They also allow you to build a baseline map for your own future work. Perhaps you build a monthly map out of data that only changes once a year? In January you might build the template map and thereafter open a monthly version from that template.

Import a Unique ID Column
Or maybe you reimport a monthly dataset that’s usually pretty close to a previous release and you don’t want to have resymbolize and re-color code your data every dang month. If you have a Unique ID number associated with your data records you can use that upon import to set up more automatic updates for later work.

Your unique ID must actually be unique to make this work. No duplicates allowed. But if you do this upfront it will allow an easy button click to update the data. To update hover over the Map & Data Tab’s imported data layer and click the Edit Gear. You’ll find the update data buttons at the bottom of the dialog page. Test it out to make sure it works for you.

The nice part is that you don’t have to resymbolize and reclassify your data ever month. Combined with the saved template map work flow MBO processing just became what we New Englanders call, “wicked easy.”

Edit Your Data Map Side
Yes you can. Once you’ve imported a data layer you can edit the data on the map. I know I’ve talked about this before but it is important. In the Data Window, by hovering over the left hand column of green and yellow locator dots, you can choose to edit your data’s placement on the map or your data’s actual data records. This is beneficial for updating a few records, or to add a few new records.
If I was going to add a whole bunch of records, I’d boot up Excel, make my changes and update my data through reimporting or through auto-updates. But that’s me. You just need to know you can update your data on the map if you want to.

In fact, Map Business Online let’s you create entire new datasets on the map by adding new addresses. So you could set up a work flow where a user inspects an imported dataset, record by record, and culls out certain data records based on sales activity or patient acuity, and turn those data points into a new dataset on the fly. Pretty cool.

Generating Reports
In Map Business Online the business map user creates territories or areas of interest out of geographic districts like zip codes, Census tracts, or counties – to name a few. Once you established a sales territory, for instance, you’ll end up with a Data Window spreadsheet describing your area of interest by zip code or county or Census tract. These market analysis results can be appended with other data. So, for instance, you could add:

• Data from data you’ve imported like counts per zip, or sales per county
• Data from included MBO Demographic Data like population, income or ethnicity to name just a few
• Calculate column results – this advanced work can be done in MBO. It’s in the Map & Data Tab

The resulting dataset can then be exported as a CSV file report for use outside the application. And from within your MBO spreadsheet you can now generate summation reports for export as well.
Once you understand how Map Business Online transforms simple map data visualizations into a market area of interest or sales territory you’ll begin to understand how to generate report information applying the tool to your own specific work flows.

Enhance your work flows with business mapping software. Release your business data from boring and hard to access silos and let it soar above beautiful maps enlightening your overall business processes. Leverage the power of location in your business data and expose your next strategy. Or just create a zip code map.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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A Business Mapping Sales Process

Managing a sales team takes a combination of patience, maturity, and vision. And on occasion you’ve got to be willing to kick a few butts. You spend a lot of your time coaching sales people, asking questions about opportunities, and making sure your people are doing the basics – following up on leads, quoting prospects, qualifying the sales pipeline, and following up on quotes.

Another aspect of your sales manager role is presenting to the executive team. They have expectations that your sales pipeline is going to grow, and grow quickly. In fact, that’s the real reason they hired you. Your job from their perspective is to generate or purchase leads, convert them into qualified prospects, and then convert those prospects into orders. In short, you must manage your sales pipeline and thereby grow sales revenues.

The job of sales manager can be challenging yet rewarding, or it can be challenging and terrifying. I prefer the former. Creating a geographic model of your sales organization based on a business map can help turn terrifying into challenging. You can achieve a business mapping sales process using opular business mapping software available online.

You’ve Got To Get Organized

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ve57l3c19g

Successful sales management can occur when a team gets organized. We’ve all seen sales teams that are not clearly directed flail about looking for sales growth. Sales chaos can happen in any economy. In many ways it’s a function of the leader of the sales team. I have watched a flailing sales team suddenly start to produce under a new manager’s firm and steady guidance. Simple things like phone queue management, organized customer assignment, rules on discounting, or fun lunch-time sales meetings, can have a rapid impact on a department’s ability to generate sales. Just knowing there’s an accessible, reasonable listening ear to go to can make a sales team feel empowered and get the orders rolling in.

Part of the sales organizing process should be developing an understanding of the geography of your sales environment. Business mapping software can help the sales manager and the sales team create that location-based sales model and integrate it into your overall strategic sales approach. There is power in location and market analysis maps – ignore this at your peril.

A first step might be building a customer location map complete with your sales representative’s home addresses, and your major competitor locations. Viewing these three core datasets against an accurate map creates an immediate field of view on your sales operational theater. This simple business data import and data visualization process opens up a world of understanding:

· You now know where all your customers are, and where they are not

· You have an understanding of how well positioned your competitors are to service your market

· You have a logistical model with real locations from which you can derive sales progress and productivity assessments

Basic data visualizations like this should be a standard practice for any sales organization.

Here’s an example of how a business map can impact your sales process when you simply plot locations on a map. Considering purchasing a prospect list? Get some sample data with addressing and view the data on a map. This process can tell you many things, like how accurately the addresses are geocoded, which can indicate how up-to-date the list is. Are there too many duplicate addresses? And how many of these prospects are located close to existing customers? This can have an impact on sales productivity. Let someone familiar with the area view the prospects against a map – do the names look right? Ask what they think is missing.

Let a geographic perspective add value to your prospect list analysis. Business mapping can provide new perspectives that drive creative thinking. Creative thinking will improve sales.

Accountability and Sales Territory Management

Now that you are getting a grip on your theater of sales operations, let’s think about accountability. One of the biggest challenges a sales manager faces is driving accountability into the sales process. Sure, your whole team means well. From the poorest to the best performers, I’m sure they are giving it their very best. Still, your job is to hold everyone on the team accountable for appropriate follow-up with their assigned customers. This means your sales people should:

· Have a clear understanding of their goals and objectives

· Communicating the correct messages to their assigned accounts in a timely fashion

· Be focused on the sales potential of their book of business – not those assigned to others

· Be posting regular and accurate updates in your CRM system – updates that accurately reflect realistic opportunities and customer expectations

Accountability – what is it anyway? For you the sales manager or business owner, accountability is a fair presentation of goals and expectations, not a constant manipulation of the rules to limit or cap commissions. Be fair and honest. At the same time, accountability is making sure the goals are challenging and benefit overall company profitability. Accountability is management keeping the company in business so people have jobs.

For you sales people, accountability is balancing an awareness of company goals and objectives with the requirements and stated objectives of the customer. It is leaving your ego at the coat rack, and shouldering today’s business load. Accountability is you, the sales person, doing the job you said you would do. Accountability is focusing on your goals and objectives not the goals and objectives of other sales people.

Sales accountability is understanding that you work for a living and that that living requires a certain number of phone calls, follow-up emails, and meetings to achieve your sales goal. Accountability means you listen to understand, ask questions when you don’t understand, and that you have the gumption and clarity of thought to speak up when you believe something is amiss.

Sales territory management helps with many aspects of sales accountability. By arranging sales territories by zip code, county or state, a sales manager makes very clear what the sales person’s area of responsibility is. And usually that sales territory is going to define which accounts they are responsible for. Armed with that knowledge, a salesperson should take control of their customer base and begin looking for and accurately processing opportunities. Without territories in place the sales team is at high risk for sales chaos. And you know what that means – your sales manager role is now up for grabs.

Communicate Goals Effectively and Share Business Data

Sales territory mapping is a great way to assign and shared sales goals. Mapping applications let you aggregate numeric values by geographic area of interest. Moreover, business map visualizations are easily shared as interactive web maps, image files for presentations, even printed wall maps. Posted and shared sales goals are viewed and understood by the entire sales team – preferably in a shared meeting and over a shared network. With the entire team now well aware of the overall and individual goals, sales activities can become the primary focus.

And there are further productivity improvements possible through sales territory management. A shared interactive business map usually means your team has access to customer maps, and prospect maps. These business data visualizations will offer the ability to conduct spatial queries. Spatial queries are nothing more than the ability to search data within a radius, a polygon, a drive time area, or a territory.

Encourage your people to conduct spatial queries to segment their lists of customers and prospects geographically. Segmented customer lists allow the sales person to bite off manageable sections of their overall list of customer contacts. Segmenting the data could make physical sales calls more productive, perhaps creating a potential list for a week long sales trip. And segmenting data makes sense for outbound calling or email campaigns as well.

Customer data segmentation exercises for sales and marketing people:

· Color code your prospects by total purchasing responsibility using dollar values

· Create a list of prospects that reside within one half hours drive time of your planned hotel for next week’s trip

· Create a prospect list against a map of zip codes or counties with high median income rates. Choose only those zips or counties that have minimal existing customers located within those areas

Creating a Sales Pipeline Using a Map

Here’s a new approach. The challenge is this: how many of the customers on your client list have been recently and truly qualified as potential buyers of your products within the next six months? Admit it – your sales pipeline data is getting stale.

Share a business map with each sales rep that displays a full list of clients to contact on the map. They are to contact each client and ask qualifying questions about potential orders for the next six months. They will note each customer response in the mapping database and save that MapPoint. When a clear potential for upcoming purchases is recognized they immediately convert that client in the overall customer database to a pipeline database on their map. That is they move client A from the overall client list to a new qualified pipeline dataset on the map application.

Business mapping software will allow your reps to create these datasets at just the click of a mouse. In a matter of weeks you will have an up-to-date sales pipeline with specific dollars projected by date. Hold them accountable to this new list. Keep it updated moving forward. Welcome to the power of the business mapping sales process.

Once you mastered these three basic aspects of geosales:

· Business data map visualizations

· Sales territory management

· Geographic sales pipeline construction

You’ll be able to recognize the power of applying business mapping software to your other business challenges. You will find business mapping to be an indispensable tool for common business intelligence exercises including:

· Strategic planning

· Market analysis

· Expansion planning

The list goes on. In many ways you’ll just be using the same data import and visualization tools over and over in different applications. For instance, building a competitor analysis map will supplement your strategic planning as much as it will your expansion planning.

Now let’s go back to the presentation requirement – that of you, the sales manager, presenting to the executive team. I’ve just outlined above a bunch of ways for you to enhance your visual presentation to the management team; including the bit about using maps to verify and upgrade the sales pipeline. How do you think that’s going to play? A new visual approach to presenting the pipeline, complete with enhanced sales accountability across your department of ‘misfits’ – as they are known in the Executive Suite. I think you can count on holding your job for a few more months.

In the long run, you’re going to find the use of business mapping software to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. And like Rick and Louis, you’ll come to understand that in business you focus on your little piece of the world and you make it your hill of beans and that it does matter.

Visualize, make it accountable, verify and report. Um, “Here’s looking at you kid.”

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, g2crowd

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Sales 101 & the Hard Conversation: A Basic Path to Sales Success

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A swarm of bees. If I can help catch a swarm of thirty thousand bees, you can sell.

After some twenty-five years in sales I find myself in an unusual situation.  The customers I speak with are buying my product and by in large, are extremely happy with it. This happy-customer phenomenon makes me stop and take stock of exactly how I got here. Why do I have happy customers?  I want to understand how I am able to sustain customers and grow business even in the face of hard conversations about pricing, service levels, competition, and product shortfalls.

My professional sales experience runs the gamut, from electronic and electrical distribution, automotive industry component supply, and finally to consumer and professional software sales. Before and during college I worked sandwich shops, sold cigarettes, vended soft-serve ice-cream.  And back in fifth grade, I started out delivering newspapers and mowing lawns. When I look back across five decades of transactions and interactions with customers, all jobs share that same basic fact: you provide a product or a service to a client in exchange for money, and you want to repeat the exercise.

In my experience success, in selling is dependent of three major factors:

  • Product Development – the value of the product or service you provide
  • Marketing – the way your product or service is presented to the world
  • Sales – the way you treat individual customers across all transactions. Do your customers trust you?

The chances are good that, as a sales person, you have minimal control over the product that you sell. Until your organization is confident in your ability to manage and develop customers, you are going to expected to focus on your primary job – sales. In my most recent role I’ve been slightly more involved on the product side.  I brought some expertise in the product I sell, but the product itself was already affordable, valuable, and in demand. This makes my sales job a whole lot easier.

Related Concept:  I believe sales success to be eighty percent luck. Right place, right product, right economy, right time.  Most high and mighty sales people you meet – just plain lucky.

The Part-time Marketer

So let’s forget about product value. Let’s assume, as a sales person, you only have control over your marketing and your selling approach. The chances are good, if you’re in sales you’ve probably been asked to handle some marketing elements from time to time.  That can mean your company is not spending much money on marketing. Your company may not have a marketing director on-board or perhaps your top-dog in marketing is a place holder, someone asked to plug a hole while the company focuses on other things.

Your part-time marketing effort is restricted by a tight budget that’s as limited as your time. Remember, if your official position is in sales you are going to be measured on sales results, not on how much time or money you dedicate to marketing. Marketing is often treated as a ‘we’ll get to it’ thing. One company I worked for always referred to the sales department as ‘marketing.’ So don’t quit your day job. 

When marketing you need to make sure your company’s Search Engine Marketing (SEM), usually a Google Ad Words campaign, and organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is active and generating traffic from Google, Bing, and Yahoo Internet searches.  You’re going to need to become a little conversant in the SEM/SEO aspects of the marketing world. You can hire a consultant or an agency to help you with SEM/SEO at a reasonable cost, but you have to search.  Contact me and I’ll recommend one. SEM (paid) and SEO (free) are critical processes to generating leads and in many cases are responsible for most e-commerce sales. If SEM/SEO is not working at your company and it doesn’t look like you’ll be allowed to make it work – leave right now. It means the business is stuck and you will fail. I guarantee you that your competitors are using SEM/SEO and it’s working for them.

Related Concept:  Don’t put sales people in part-time marketing roles. It takes six months to just come up to speed on the latest marketing technologies, which detracts from their selling focus, which means you will fire them. Hire a marketing director.

Do not waste the company’s money on trade shows, banner ads, print ads, TV ads or radio ads. Those are all obsolete methods of advertising.   I suppose there are a few businesses that can still drive local sales results with the right TV ad, but it’s generally not for you. For most of you it’s SEO or get out of marketing.

The Comfy Chair

SEO works like this. A potential customer types words into a search engine and clicks on a search engine’s returned results and lands on your landing page. Those landing pages are designed to make your customer feel confident they’ve come to the right place.   Organic search and paid search is like trapping a mouse. You use keywords as the bait. You place your mouse trap ad on the Internet as if it were the kitchen floor. And you hope to catch a mouse, or in our case – a customer.

Think back to college. Was your room the party room? That customer you seek is like someone who comes to your dorm room to party.  When they look into your room they need to see a comfy chair or two, maybe a bong, a cool poster, perhaps some liquor and glasses, some cool music should be playing, and your room is clean.  If they feel at home, they decide to stay and party.  It is the same with your landing page for your potential customer.  Upon landing there your future customer should immediately feel like they made the right choice by clicking on your site. No creepy off topic subjects to distract, just signs of your authority and clear pathways to answers and calls-to-action or purchasing.  Ah! Your customer is ready to party.

Deliberate Courteousness

Not every client will buy right off. Most are going to require some hand holding. That’s why you have a job in sales. You’re going to probably have to respond to an email.  It could also be a phone call, but most people today use email. This is especially true with younger customers; and they are gradually holding sway. Regardless of the channel, at all times be deliberately courteous.

Deliberate courteousness is dirt simple. It what your mom tried to teach you – a combination of politeness and common sense. It is also surprisingly absent in many sales interactions. I have to remind myself in the face of occasional rude customer, be deliberately courteous.

Related Concept:  Respond. RESPOND! Don’t let emails atrophy. Don’t set a spam filter trap for customer emails. Don’t be that guy who writes: “Janet, I’m sorry I didn’t respond two months ago. I just found your email in my spam filter.” NEXT! This happens all too often.

Start your email response with a ‘thank you.’ “Thank you for your interest in Specialty Dog Brushes.”  This simple and easy step immediately tells your customer that you are glad they contacted you and you are ready to help. Don’t say too much in this first email, perhaps an answer to an obvious question, or maybe clarify time zones for a meeting. Make it polite and professional with a ‘thank you’ signature and your full contact info.

Now your customer knows they are dealing with a professional. Your job is to keep them thinking that way.  Every comment you make, every email you send, every conversation you share counts. It all adds up to your professional persona in the eyes of the customer.

And don’t forget to spell check. We all misspell words. I may even have some grammar or spelling issues in this post. But, please spell check and think through your grammar. It matters. When a customer compares your email, with three misspelled words, to your competitor’s perfect email, guess who wins?

If you get phone messages, call back. Do it right away.  I have been stunned by the amount of customers I call back who express how thankful they are that I actually called back. You know what that means? That means sales people generally do not call back. Remember that. You can stand out from your competition just by calling back promptly. Your simple response puts you on the winning track. How freaking cool is that?

Related concept: The more you act like a professional the more you become a professional. No one has to know about your failures in a previous life. Act and you shall become.

Selling Method – Be Yourself and Know Your Product

Now that customers are calling and considering your product, you must answer their questions. Be honest and forthright. Over time, it is through speaking with customers that you will learn how your product solves business problems.  Listen carefully and answer their questions thoughtfully and succinctly.  Ask clarifying questions about how you can help them. Above all be honest and sincere. Be yourself.

There are many heavily marketed selling methods and sales pipeline management schemes that can help you generate sales and effectively manage your sales revenue funnel. You should explore these tools with an open mind and selectively apply some of the methods they purport. I particularly like, The Funnel Principlehttp://www.breakthrough-sales.com/funnel-principle.html.   Just remember: 95 percent of the customers you speak with today will be almost as educated as you are about your industry and your product. The Internet makes it easy for buyers to research products and companies in detail. In a way, it’s a buyer’s market simply the Internet exists.  When people get smart about products and companies they easily see through methods and scripts. So, be yourself and answer their questions with sincerity. If you don’t have answers tell them you’ll get back to them, and do just that. It is an opportunity to show follow through.

I’ve observed several sales-strategy gurus enter and exit companies over time. It is generally a painful yet somewhat entertaining exercise to watch. One ‘guru’ was an alleged expert at a particular selling methodology. He followed a particular process exactly, always listening to the customer, tying the customer requirement to the product and the product back to customer benefit; always asking for the order. For process he got an A grade. Unfortunately he sold nothing. One of his clients was the largest oil and gas company in the world.  That energy industry buyer’s comment on this ‘expert’ sales person was simple, “That guy was worst sales person ever.” The finest sales strategy on Earth can’t overcome an offensive personality.

Related Concept:  The typical customer greeting, “How can I help you?” should define your role as a sales person. You get paid to help.  Help is your consistent role throughout the customer relationship.

I am no sales guru, but here’s a list of the primary selling skills that work for me:

  • Always review the customer’s website to better understand their business
  • Be an active and responsive listener – use empathy, repeat back what you’ve heard
  • Resist the urge to speak (this is different from listening) – over time this becomes easier but may be very difficult for some of you talkers. Often a customer will sell themselves while you take notes
  • Tie the customer’s stated requirements back to your product’s benefit. Try to focus on just three major customer requirements. Look for a requirement that your product uniquely addresses (that is not price)
  • Try to politely ask questions that reveal who the customer is and how they process decisions
  • Don’t talk about competitors unless asked to. Tread carefully here – saying positive things about competitors can build your industry authority. Trashing a competitor can destroy your credibility
  • Write down key points and follow-up items. Sound like a no-brainer? Do it. Write it down.
  • The customer is not always right and you must master the art of correcting without insulting; communicating without pontificating
  • Don’t ask for the order. That’s obnoxious. Ask what more you can do for your customer

Be patient with your customers.  You have nowhere else to go. You are paid to answer their questions and hold their hand through processes. I know on bad days it can feel exasperating. Remind yourself – helping this difficult customer is exactly what you are supposed to be doing right now.

Early in my career I worked in industrial controls distribution.  There was a low-level engineer that worked for one of our relatively small accounts. This guy was a royal pain. He’d come in our counter area at odd hours and demand detailed support. He was a very picky and sometimes down-right rude.  My associate Ray had the account and the patience of Job with this customer.  I’d head home on a Friday night and Ray would be bent over the sales counter, eye-to-eye with this guy, debating wiring diagrams. Several years later that customer had been promoted to lead engineer at a major Maine business and awarded a massive stores contract to our company. You just never know who you are talking to. Way to go Ray.

Sales Happen and So Do Hard Conversations

If you are selling a solid product that people need, and your SEO is working, you are going to get the clicks and calls.  If you treat people courteously you will get the calls back and sales will happen.  But now comes the hard part. Once people get to know you a little, and especially after they spend money, they expect your product or service to display real value. There will always be points where your product or service falls short of expectations. Nothing is perfect.

Unmet expectations could happen for many reasons:

  • Some customers just naturally expect too much
  • You may have deliberately or inadvertently over promised
  • Customers might be used to another product or service and yours requires they use new work-flows
  • Customers might just ask for something because ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’
  • Some customers are in over their heads and demand excessive support to get comfortable
  • Your product or service might not be up to par with market requirements – in technology this happens on a cyclical basis

How do you have the hard conversation with these valued customers and not lose sales? First of all, you do it by having the conversation. Don’t avoid it. If you avoid the hard conversation all the work you’ve done up to this point is lost.  Your customer will feel ignored, demeaned, or just pissed off. They will lose respect for you.  Your college dormitory is no longer a place for them to party. They will take their business to a place that feels more comfortable.  So step one is to decide to have the conversation.

  1. Decide to have the conversation
  2. Think about your response. Thank the customer for asking. Come to the conversation with ideas, suggestions, or workarounds
  3. Use the phone. If the conversation is hard – you should use the phone not email
  4. Use open language. Engage the customer’s ideas and concerns. Repeat their major points back to them to make them feel heard
  5. If the requirement is complex, bring the issue to your higher-ups. Tell the customer you will elevate the issue – and actually do just that. Good companies want to hear about customer objections. 

Related concept: Email is less effective with hard conversations. Emails can easily present an inadvertent harshness in tone.  When in doubt – pick up the phone.

I have found when I follow this hard conversation approach my relationship with hard conversation customers almost always improve. And in the long run, the product I represent becomes a more effective product because of the plain feedback I received.

This process won’t save every customer. There will always be lost customers. No sales person keeps 100% of their customers. But by having hard conversations in a positive and open manner, with follow-up, you will gain a reputation as a person of your word; as a sales person who feels like a partner, not like a vendor.

Here at www.MapBusinessOnline.com we experienced a rare service break-down due to a software glitch.  There were multiple customers impacted and many called us wondering when things would improve. It took a few days and it was stressful. But in the end every one of those customers thanked us for fixing the issue and the reason they thanked us was because we kept them informed the whole way through. It was frustrating for the customer but they knew we were on it.  Make the hard conversation call.

Make your customers feel at home. Welcome them to your world with comfy landing pages, positive emails and phone greetings. Be deliberately courteous. Listen more, talk less. Keep the customer interested by responding to questions and don’t avoid the hard conversation. This will serve you well in your current role and in roles to come, because sooner or later your luck will run out and you will have to spin the wheel once more and take on a new sales role (and maybe marketing) in a new organization.

Related concept: Treat your associates and reports exactly as you would a customer. There’s a golden rule there somewhere.  Follow it.

Geoffrey Ives is Vice President of Sales for www.MapBusinessOnline.combusiness mapping software for sales & marketing professionals.  He would be happy to receive comments or answer questions about this article.

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Lyme Disease May Not Kill You – But You’ll Wish It Had

I hope you will excuse this interruption of our usual business mapping blog for a short public service message.  Spring finally reached the state of Maine yesterday and many of us winter closeted Mainers spent the day outside watching snow melt away, sitting in the sun, and beginning work on our gardens.  However, I am well aware that with spring and the joy of outdoors comes the extremely serious danger of catching Lyme disease.  I know because I’ve come down with it twice – two years in a row.

Learn more on the Lyme tic here: http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/life_cycle_and_hosts.html

Symptoms are many and vary from person to person. My year one symptoms were different from year two.  Both times I felt like crap but I got the rash only in year two. For me the list included:  trouble staying asleep, aches, fever, itching, overwhelming fatigue, headaches, a stiff neck, and ear-ringing.

As I mentioned, last year’s bout included a rash but it didn’t seem to match online descriptions. I was slightly achy and I had that stiff neck.  I really didn’t think I was sick but symptoms persisted for three weeks.  I went to my doctor apologizing for being paranoid and asked him to check me for Lyme. It came back positive.  I could easily have attributed the symptoms to growing old, a cold, or some other low level reason.

One of the very real dangers of Lyme is that it is very difficult to test positive for. Often the diagnostic tests are inconclusive. The only cure is prescription antibiotics so make sure to have a serious talk with your doctor if you suspect Lyme.

Get Proactive

Tics are most active April through September. In the past I haven’t been proactive enough at preventive measures. But this year I’ve already started:

  • Spray your pants, shoes, socks, hat with Permethrin available at outdoor stores like Cabellas or on Amazon.com. Evidently this stuff both repels and kills tics
  • Buy a pair of pre-permeated Permethrin ankle chaps and wear them religiously – well not at church maybe but always when working outside
  • Other repellents include 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) but only last for a few hours
  • Take showers when done with your outdoor activities
  • Check yourself for those small tics
  • If you feel a slight tickling in one general area over and over get out of those clothes and shower. Run the clothes through a high heat dryer cycle to kill any tics. This happened to me and I’m pretty sure I could have prevented my second case if I’d reacted.

Here’s a map of the 2013 reported Lyme cases: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/maps/map2013.html

Enjoy your spring and summer and take precautions to avoid Lyme disease.

____________________________________________________________________________
Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, g2crowd

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Answering Business Questions with Business Mapping Software

I like to occasionally update our blog audience on the reasons why more and more businesses are using Map Business Online. Organizations use business mapping software for a variety of reasons and many of them surprise me, even after seventeen years in the mapping biz. One question I get a lot is:

• “How many people have used Map Business Online?”

A Tool for the Masses
Since we released MapBusinessOnline.com in 2010 over 25,000 people have logged into the program. At that number our users represent a very wide variety of industries. Healthcare, banking, and general sales & marketing verticals lead the pack. But we also get a lot of calls and emails from insurance companies, franchise organizations, delivery and service organizations, and retail sales companies. MBO users sell pools, schedule doctors for home visits, manage inside sales teams, organize Wal-Mart shelves, provide marketing advice, manage car washes, sell restaurant franchises, and clear vegetation. The list never ends.

In general, these thousands of users are creating customer maps, prospect maps, and competitor maps – fundamental visualization of business data. ‘Seeing is believing,’ as the saying goes, and location-based data visualizations will expose threats and opportunities you may have missed, especially if you haven’t been using a business map. Often, a company middle manager or administrator gets the idea to map Excel data for views on a map and that view, when shared, generates interest at many levels within the organization. They might be answering questions like this:

• “How many people making more than $175,000 a year,live within 30 minutes of our proposed new retail store?”
• “How many 50 to 55 year-olds live within 30 minutes of our proposed fitness facility?”

Business maps communicate business realities quickly and effectively – especially when viewed against additional data, like demographics by zip code. When carefully crafted business maps are a great way to get the boss’ attention focused on competitive realities, potential markets, or strategic plans.

Comes with the Territory
I discuss and demo Map Business Online’s sales territory mapping process multiple times each day. Companies new to MBO come to us with various levels of experience in territory management. Some are MapPoint refugees looking for a MapPoint replacement (Microsoft MapPoint was discontinued late last year.) Others are brand new to the concept and need to start from scratch by easily grouping sets of zip codes together based on demographic data or some other business factor. Still other companies use advanced territory mapping tools and just want a simpler, less expensive alternative. They can import their existing territory schemes and start sharing interactive MapBusinessOnline.com sales territory maps at extremely low costs. Sales territory maps answer questions too. For example:

• “Where are the overlapping zip codes between sales person A’s territory and salesperson B?”
• “Did territory A results come within 95% of her sales goal for Q1 2015?”

Companies use territory maps to assign and encourage sales accountability. Sales territory maps provide a platform for sharing sales objectives and results. Sales territory clarity drives sales activities and sales activities drive conversions. Companies with clearly defined sales territories sell more products and services.

Route Planning Software
Many businesses apply business mapping software to their mobile work force. This is where things get really interesting. An independent sales representative could use MBO for basic sales planning. She might use the tool to answer the question:

• “Who am I going to call on next week in Cleveland, OH?”

A mapping tool lets you import your customer base and then search that list by spatial or geographic query, saving the results for record keeping or multi-stop optimized route development. Delivery and service organizations expand on this concept by answering questions like:

• “Where are the closest fuel supply points to my list of delivery customers in southern Nevada?”
• “How far is the closest hospital from my highest risk patients?”
• “What is the distance from zip code center to zip center across my entire market area?”

Each company we speak with has a unique set of business circumstances and work-flows they want to accommodate with business mapping software. A bus company has traveling vehicles just like a hospice care agency but their business realities are completely different. Mapping tools can help a bus company efficiently pick up all the kids in each neighborhood with minimal stops. In school transportation it’s all about efficiency and safety. That same tool can help a hospice organization determine where every resource is scheduled to be right now so the entire organization can accommodate the latest crisis. Hospice agencies need to be ready when ten patients require critical care in the same half hour.

In the end business mapping software provides a set of features that are designed to answer critical questions quickly and communicate those answers effectively. These tools are applicable to a broad set of business situations but they must also be technologically accessible. In other words, when the company needs a business map, almost anyone in the organization should be able to create one. Maps don’t need to be expensive or complex for most organizations. We must remember a fuel company is in business to haul and sell fuel – not to build road maps. A retail marketing company is in the business to conduct market analysis – not to build the greatest GIS map of all time. Business maps should be relatively easy to access and apply for anyone capable of building an Excel spreadsheet and operating a web browser.

This is why we like to answer this question:

“How can business maps help you be successful in your business?”

And the answer is, try a business mapping tool like Map Business Online and find out.

_____________________________________________________________________________
Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, g2crowd

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Yet Another GDUI – Family Time and How it Relates to Mapping

For many of us, purchasing the latest software or gadget means we’ll be getting an exciting new headache along with that new feature, function, or service we’ve been craving. There’s almost always a serious learning curve associated with trying a new video streaming service, putting a battery in the new TV remote, or simply making that first call with your new cell phone. For me, anyway, the process of learning yet another User Interface (UI) can be maddening.

Nana
It reminds me of when my Grandmother used to get really mad. She’d say things like, “I’m going to blow up his GD lawn mower. You’ll see.” Or “That toaster’s not worth a GD nickel.” As a rule, my Nana utilized all the usual swear words on a regular basis, but in the heat of the moment, for some reason she’d go all acronym and the GD shortcut would prevail. Mind you, my Nana was the sweetest women in history. You just didn’t want to cross her. And she died long before any GDUI came close to impacting her life.
Aleda
It’s not that Facebook’s settings are difficult to master, or that Google Plus is particularly complicated to set-up, it’s more that there are just so many of these GD UI’s in our lives today and each new UI is completely unique. These UI’s are the creations of genius software devs asserting their unique vision of how a device shoould work. You must know what I mean? Every time we buy a new piece of equipment or sign up for a new web service there’s a new protocol to learn.

Family Time
This is especially true around Christmas, after you’ve purchased a new TV or streaming tool for the family. Christmas is supposed to be a festive time; a time for relaxation and family. Yeah, right. You’ve just thrown a major chunk of cash (or credit) at some new widget and now you have to make it work. Things are going to get dicey in paradise.

“But Daddy,” your five year-old daughter says ever so sweetly, “It’s Christmas and you said we could watch F[w]ozen today.” You, lying on the floor in an unbelievably uncomfortable and hideously twisted position that makes you look possessed by the devil, trying yet another configuration of the Blue Ray player paired with the Samsung TV all while holding the dog’s stinky dirty pillow over your face so you can swear like Nana did, “I’m going to throw this GD Blue Ray player in the GD trash can.” Which your little girl hears only as a series of muffled oomfs and arghs, but really, you know you’ve damaged her now. There’s years of therapy in her future, and more UI’s for you in yours.

I’ve got to hand it to my Dad. At 82 years old, he still manages to set up new software programs, tweak the TV remotes, and reconfigures Mom’s phone so the political donation callers can’t get to her. Of course, now I can’t get to her either but we take our UI victories where we can find them. Here’s a link where you can read about more GDUI’s baddesigns.

Back to Business Mapping
At Map Business Online, we understand you have a lot of GD technology on your plate. Who needs more? We sincerely believe our tools are intuitive and are fairly easy to adjust. I am including here a few tips that might help as you embark on yet another dance with a new GD web-service. I use these approaches regularly, so you should be able to as well.

Importing Business Data
Map lists of addresses as spreadsheets that have separate columns for address, zip code, city and state. Do not use the rows above your business data for anything but column header names. Some people have notes or titles in their first few rows. Don’t do that.
• You can import multiple datasets and control them from the Map & Data Tab. You can actually import the same data multiple times, which lets you symbolize data from the same dataset in various layers with varying symbols.
• To update your imported data layers consider using a Unique Record ID column in your data. Then you won’t have to delete reimport and resymbolize your data visualization

Changing the Way Zips, Counties, or States Look from Map & Data
Map & Data is the blue box in the Pacific Ocean or usually to the left of the map view. If closed it sits along the left side of your map. It controls your data layers. In the Map & Data Tab place your cursor over a Zip Code layer (or any other administrative district layer). Click the Gear Icon that pops up and consider that light blue dialog box that opens. Here you can control the following things:
• Zip code transparency – You can make the layer transparent to view the base map street data through the zip codes
• Zip code boundary line thicknesses and coloring – thicken and darken lines for better referencing
• Zip code color choices – change the non-selected zip code default from light green to purple, if you like
• Zip code labels – You control when zip code labels show up as you zoom in, the label size, and any additional data (like demographic data) that you may want to add to the label (which is wicked cool)
• Zip code call outs and zip code Territory labels can be edited here too
• All of these edits can be applied to state, county or other admin layers. They are not just for zip code maps

Basic Map Navigation Tips
• To pan and zoom on the map I use the “Zoom in/out” button (magnifying glass icon) at the bottom of the Scroll/Zoom tool in the upper right corner of the map. It’s fast.
• There’s a convenient Blue Back Arrow button there too, to move your map-view back a few steps.
• And, also in the Scroll Bar section, you can click on the American Flag to zoom to a contiguous USA wide view

Data Window Tips (Spread Sheet Icon button to the right of the Tool Bar)
• The Data Window gives you a spreadsheet view of your imported data in MBO. If you select a row in the Data Window it selects the corresponding point on the map – so there is connectivity between the data view and the map view
• The Data Window tool bar has many filtering tools. It’s also where you can rename or delete marketing lists and territories – see the White Pages Blue Check-Mark icon to the right of the tool bar.
• To append demographic data to territories and marketing lists click that Add Data button in the bottom right. All of your Data Window views are exportable – even the demographic data

Edit Imported Data
• Select an imported mappoint on the map and use the little tool bar that pops up – click the gear to edit properties and data fields
• In the Data Window place your cursor over the far left hand column, click the Pencil that pops up and begin editing
• Add data to MBO. Drop down on the draw tools under the ABC icon – select the bottom option Map Pin or MapPoint and touch the map. Choose to add to an existing dataset or start a New dataset. You can get to the same editing function by adding an address in the Address Bar – white space upper left corner above the map. Enter an address and click the Binoculars to place a point on the map – notice the little toolbar again

The Map Legend or Map Key – That’s the box that explains your map data to your audience
• The map legend appears when you import data or create a territory or market area
• Remember you can edit the Legend. Click the circle in the upper right of the legend and edit or remove legend layers.
• If the Legend disappears, open the Map & Data tab, click the Tool Bar gear and look towards the bottom of the dialog box to re-enable the Map Legend

Various tips and tricks
• Where ever you can assign a symbol to a point on the map you can access the Symbol library. In the symbol library you can scroll way up above to the top of the symbols and find the import tools for importing your own symbols.
• Filter your map view by state – Use that mushroom looking button on the right of the Map & Data toolbar

Be sure to contact us if you have any other questions about our GD mapping application.

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Let a digital map help you learn about your business

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

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