Map Business Online Blog

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

Filter Your Imported Data in Map Business Online

Business mapping software usually enables spatial searches and filtering searches of your business data.

Filtering data in Map Business Online is a little different from conducting a spatial search of your business data. Once you’ve imported data into MBO to create business maps or just plain business data visualization you can create subset lists of your data based on geographic queries and data filtering.

A geographic query or spatial search is a search conducted within an area that the user designates using search tools in the product. It might be a radius search or a search based on a polygon or drive time area.  It could be the search of a specific map sales territory or market area of interest.
Spatial Search Examples
A Spatial Search

A filtered search takes place in the Map Business Online Data Window.  Open the Data Window.  In the middle of the Data Window tool bar you will notice two search operations along the Data Window tool bar:

  1. A quick search – A blank white space with a binocular icon and a delete button. Cursor-hover over this and it will say: Enter text to search data rows by name
  2. A filter icon button – Cursor-hover over the filter icon and it will say: Filter data rows

Use the Quick Search function to search data by the Left most column of your imported data. Enter a keyword, a few letters, unique numbers to get a set of results which will display in the data window.
Filtered Data example
A Filter Search

Use the Filter button to open the filter dialogue box which will, allow you to search any column of your data. Within the Filter dialog you may choose the column or columns you wish to search and then use the drop down in the middle to apply a modifier to your search.  A modifier might include symbols like > (greater than), = (equal too), or contains, among a few other modifiers. Once applied these modifiers generate a result that is displayed in the data window – a subset of the originally imported data layer.  You will notice in the lower right of the results a tally of the number of returned results and the original file’s total number of records.

Whether you are working with the Quick Search or the Filter button your data can be filtered on the actual map view too.  You’ll notice a Check-box labeled Filter Data on the Map just below the Data drop down in the upper left hand corner of the data window. Check that box and your data results will be the only data showing on the map.

Also, you will now be able to export your filtered data result to a CSV file and use the data outside of Map Business Online. To export simply click the right most button on the Data Window tool bar. An alternative export method is the old school cut and paste.

Cut and Paste functions in Map Business Online occur when you click the Copy Data & paste button in the lower right corner of the Data Window. You’ll see the double page icon and when you hover over it, the button says: Copy data to clipboard. Pay attention to the Copy Data button dialogue. You will note you can resize the Data Window view to change the number of records visible in the window and copy and paste just those visible records. This comes in handy at times.

To the right of the filter button are two additional tools you can use to create marketing lists out of multiple filtering actions. You could, for instance, create a new marketing list and populate it with data results from multiple filtering operations.

MBO users use data filtering operations in the Data Window to support a variety of business activities:

I’m sure there are many applications for data filtering that your business can dream up. Geographic and spatial searches are core features for business mapping and GIS applications.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.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 Do I Plot Incremental Points Using Map Business Online?


Map Business Online users from time to time, desire the ability to plot points on the map manually.  Most often user will import location enabled address spreadsheets and throw multiple, perhaps thousands of points on the map all at one time. Alas, sometimes business mapping software users do not want to import data, they just want to create points on the map manually.  This could be for a variety of reasons:

  • They only have one or just a few records to map
  • They view manual placement as faster
  • They are not comfortable with spreadsheets

Incremental point plotting can be easily done with Map Business Online. It is a Plot, Save and Edit process.  You can insert an address through the address bar or you can grab the Plot Point tool from the Draw Tool options.

If you plot using the Address Bar in the upper left hand corner of the application, make sure to input your address like this: “10 Main St, Rockport, MA”  The commas are emphasized to make sure you use them.

When you enter an address and click the binoculars a point is placed on the map and a mini-toolbar appears near the point.  You have to save the point by clicking that red Mappoint Save button on the mini-tool bar. This initial mappoint placement process will create a dataset called Locations.

If you use the Draw Tool Add Location button to place your point, the new location will be added to your Location data set too.  You’ll note an address is not viewable in the Data Window. Instead you’ll have lat/long coordinates.  You can add address information later, as required.

Whichever way you plot points, you have to choose to either create a new data set or add to an existing dataset. Just follow the add data dialog.  MBO will automatically create a dataset called Locations. You’ll see the new dataset in the Map & Data check list, and you’ll find it in the Data Window view. As you add new points, if you choose, you can create new datasets. It’s up to you.

To edit data locations in Map Business Online you have options. One is to click a point to activate the Mini-Toobar. Choose the Edit Gear and do what editors do.  Use this method of editing to change the symbol set of your added point or points.

Users can also open the Data Window to edit data. Simply select the dataset and hover over the left hand column of the data – those Green and Yellow dots. You’ll see a Pencil Icon pop-up. Click that to Edit location information or field content.

Don’t forget to look up common operations in the Help documentation if you have questions.

Business map users add data to Map Business Online for so many reasons. For the most part it is to simply visualize where customers, staff, or business locations are located.  Additional points may be added to create some sort of comparison or highlight.
MissBruce
In Map Business Online a user can add up to 100,000 records to a map. Remember you are currently limited to no more than twelve datasets per map. That’s why we recommend consolidating like datasets.  Don’t use up you dataset allocation on small quantity datasets that could be combined into one import.  You can always symbolize and color code like dataset points by a category in your data for differentiation on the map and map legend.

Simple data imports and comparisons in MBO turn your business map into competitive analysis, market analysis, expansion plans, a customer map, or operational maps.

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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Summarize Your Data by Zip Code, County or State Map Layer


New to our blog? Each week we try to talk about Map Business Online features or real world applications of our business mapping software. Occasionally we might touch on a subject outside of business mapping software. We try to keep it light and quick. You should find a video or map samples to help explain things. Some times we get silly – apologies for that.

We view Map Business Online as an affordable business mapping solution helping basic business users to access the power of location-based or geographic views of their business data. The tool is used for sales territory creation and management, business analysis, strategic and operation planning. These map data visualizations are most often accessed by simply importing an Excel spreadsheet of your business data. The tool includes demographic data, a variety of geographic map layers like zip codes and Census tracts, and comprehensive help documentation with links to our growing YouTube video library.

A few weeks back MapBusinessOnline.com experienced one of our regular quarterly updates. One of the new features was the ability to summarize data by County, State or Zip code.

Summary data is nice to include in reports or business presentations. Summarizing both visually and using a numeric table gives you a couple off different approaches for communicating information to your business map audience.
SummarizePic
This capability to summarize data was inserted into the first page of the Color Code by Point, Color Code by Circle, and Color Code by Chart dialogs. This new option confused a few people, who were used to starting with the select data column option. If you want to use the Color Code by Point option in your usual way just click Next at the summarize page and carry on as usual.

However, if you’d like to summarize sales dollars by state and data count by county, for instance, choose county as you pass through your summarize by geography option. By doing so, all of the points associated with a county will be consolidated into one point for each county. You could then choose to color code by map layer for the state layer and summarize numeric values by state as well. In this way you could summarize dollars by county and total count by state or some other really cool combinations. See the video for a demonstration.

Summarizing your data by geographic districts means the color coding process will consolidate your imported data by district and place one point in the middle of that district instead of a group of points, like the address points in your data. So, if you summarized 1000 address points of sales data you’ve imported for New England by state, then all your records would be summarized for the six New England states by placing six different colored points across New England.

There’s an additional Map Business Online Summary option you can choose, that’s also new. If you are viewing imported data or a territory in the Data Window, you’ll notice a Summary button on the lower right. Look for the Sum button – Summary in the lower right. Upon opening the Summary function in the data window you will be presented with the opportunity to import data from our demographic library or from data that you may have imported. Add these to your summary column as required and then export. This is another great tool for generating reports that sum up data columns based on the geography you have defined in the data window via query results.

The next time you fire up Map Business Online be sure to explore summary options for symbolization and for summary reporting. They are both nice tools to have in your bag of business map tricks.

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 Sales Territories Using Drive Time Queries

Driving time is always an issue, isn’t it? How long a drive is it to get to Rolanda’s birthday party tomorrow? How long will it take on average for our patrons to reach our new restaurant? Is it faster to take the 10 or the Freeway to get to the All You Can Eat Icelandic Buffet tonight?

Driving times impact our lives daily, be they commuting delays or an emergency routing times during heavy traffic. Drive times have impact. So it makes sense that some companies might want to base their sales territory mapping assignments on driving times or driving distances. Using Drive Time tools to create sales territories are an alternative to the standard Map Business Online methods of territory creation including polygon queries, incremental selection, and territory creation from preassigned spreadsheet import.

Company’s with lot’s of field technicians may have interest in defining sales territories by drive time. It makes sense to organize areas of responsibility around specified drive times or distances from the technician’s home. Drive time is essential for retail mapping.

Drive Time Queries
Map Business Online business mapping software includes a Drive Time/Distance button in the toolbar – click the drop down next to the Search Data in Circle button. You’ll want that odd-shaped polygon button.

To begin a series of new sales territories based on Drive Time or Drive Distance polygons start with a list of points. Your drive time analysis usually starts from a series of specific locations, like all of your sales representative’s home offices. You might also choose all of your branch business locations. Create a spreadsheet of those business addresses and import those locations into Map Business Online. Plot multiple locations on a map.

Once imported, you will see that when you click on any of these points a mini toolbar opens up below the point, and on that mini toolbar you will find a Drive Time button. Before you click that drive time button choose the geographic district layer or map layer you would like to base your territories on: state, county, or zip code. More layers are available by clicking the Add Map Layers button.

The drive time button:Drivetime

Using the Map & Data Tab choose the district layer most appropriate for your territory. Most people focusing on drive time territories choose zip codes. But you could choose zip3 codes or Census tracts too. For this exercise let’s go with zip code mapping.

Now, back to that mini toolbar under your selected point. Click the drive time polygon button. Choose the drive time increment you’d like to set for your territory. For example, if you choose 25 minutes MBO will draw a polygon on the map that represents an area drivable along the road network in all directions from your central point for 25 minutes. (If zip codes are the only layer checked on, you’ll go right to naming.)

Once that polygon outline is displayed in yellow on the map, click the Binoculars icon on the mini toolbar. This will let you query the zip code layer. Choose the zip code layer and save your territory name when prompted.

Now you have created your first drive time sales territory. You could do the exact same process and choose a driving distance polygon instead. A driving distance query simply returns the zip code list within 25 driving miles of a central point, as opposed to driving minutes.

Demographic Maps
Remember if you add demographic data to your first territory by choosing the Add Data button in the Data Window, you can expect all additional territories based on zip codes in that map, to include the same demographic data. This is a fantastic way to optimize your territories based on population or income.

Additionally, in Map & Data you can click the Gear Icon and choose the Territory Options tab, which can allow territories to overlap. Allowing territories to intersect will let you identify areas of overlap and address them per your particular business rules.

Drive time business analysis helps smart businesses plan around the very real restrictions we face in day-to-day living. People may be willing to drive to visit retail stores, schools, and medical clinics up to a certain time frame. Drive time can help your business understand how far your customers are willing to drive and or operationally, how far your associates can drive and be efficient. Either way, the All You Can Eat Icelandic Buffet stands to benefit.

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

DSCN4588

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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Ascend356 Adding Great Value to Map Business Online

View Ascend356’s MapShare: https://www.mapbusinessonline.com:443/Viewer.aspx/066cea3a-3d80-4a2e-a757-607a5a477841

Map Business Online business mapping software is utilized across a variety of vertical markets but the market most often applying our data visualization tools is the healthcare market. Applications within healthcare vary widely. Hospitals use the tool to plan expansions or simply get a visualization of medical resources across a target area. Home health care agencies use the tool to organize their field staff and supplement scheduling processes with the MBO multi-stop route planner and patient location visualizations. Insurance companies use the tool to organize marketing campaigns, visualize claims by location, or plan nation-wide events that engage the public.

Ascend356
Enter Tracy Ferren from Ascend356 – http://www.ascend356.com. I first met Tracy a few years back when he called asking questions about how to apply Map Business Online to sales and marketing territory management. Since that time Tracy has become somewhat of an expert on MBO himself. Ascend356 consults with a variety of healthcare related organizations about their field staff requirements, marketing efforts, web-site development, and capital equipment availability.

One element of Tracy’s consulting practice is to provide the tools and process for powerful map visualizations. That’s where MBO comes in real handy. Tracy’s medical customers include medical device companies that sell capital equipment and at times consumables. Tracy sets up map visualizations that display medical facility points color coded by equipment concentrations, all this against a background of sales territories by county or zip code. Sales territory mapping provides health care organization with clear coverage areas and sales accountability zones. These Map Business Online visualizations also help Ascend356’s map audience assess equipment allocations, and track waste products for disposal compliance. Data layers can be exported from the map for use in third party applications or for record keeping.

Ascend356 also provides a rapid operational analysis that thoroughly assesses territory size by matrix. That matrix can include surgery count, bed count, number of hospitals in a system, or any number of customer selected criteria. Tracy points out, “Map Business Online is a powerful tool that allows me to easily extract, sort, and analyze data by territory, zone, or region.” I would add that Tracy has provided valuable MBO customer feedback and feature recommendations that often become part of the MBO feature set.

There’s almost no end to how map visualizations can help a medical organization better manage their business. Part of the power of MBO is that simple instant awareness that occurs when a human being views a map. Maps connect people and organizations with places, to state the obvious. Once that recognition takes place, additional data only expands the viewers understanding. For instance, when a field manager views Tracy’s map she can quickly understand where the facility is located, what its coverage area is, its bed capacity, and the critical disciplines supported by the particular medical team.

Market Analysis
From a marketing perspective Ascend356 can provide a soup to nuts solution that goes way beyond mapping and geographic marketing analysis. Ascend356 offers web-site development services, SEM and SEO support, as well as expertise in email and online marketing approaches. And nobody understands how overwhelming the current marketing technologies can be better than I do. SEO/SEM consulting services pay-back can be outstanding. Because we’ve all got plenty to deal with in managing our day-to-day business without have to hold SEO séances that try to predict the impact of the latest Google update. With apologies to the Google SEO robot.

Tracy Ferren and Ascend356 are consulting engineers who add tremendous value to standard software applications – in mapping and in general sales and marketing. You should call contact them with your questions.

We’d love to understand how your business can add value to Map Business Online just like Ascend356, but perhaps in your particular vertical market. Contact Map Business Online and let us know. Sharing our mutual success stories will only benefit our companies in our shared markets. After all, it’s all about SEO today – blog it, Tweet it, share it, and hope that somebody clicks on it besides my mom. Did I say that out loud?

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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Using the Draw Tools in Map Business Online

Most business mapping software allows users to create and maintain territories based on geographic districts like zip codes, counties or states. These sales territories can be created by importing spreadsheets that designate the territory assignment or they could be created using a polygon or radius search too that collects the zip codes of an area and converts them into a territory. There are actually more ways to create territories using geographic districts but I want talk about another set of tools today.

Sometimes users don’t want territories based on zip codes, they just want to designate an area based on landmarks, roads, or rivers. They want free-form draw tools. Fortunately Map Business Online includes a set of draw tools for just such an occasion. The Draw Tools are located on the tool bar with the icon that says “Abc” with a white background. There is a drop down arrow there that will display all the draw related tools.

These tools are basic line, polygon, circle and point tools for placing objects on your map view. There is also an option to insert a Text Box anywhere on the map.

Drawing Territories
Because we are hand drawing territories using our mouse, our territory boundaries will be rough. They will not be as accurate or as consistent as territory boundaries based on zip codes. Still, many organizations prefer this method because it is rooted in a shared understanding of boundaries based on real world objects – roads, bridges, buildings, and other landmarks.

If I was building a territory using free-form draw tools, I would begin by toggling back and forth between a streets and a satellite map view. Zoom in to your area of interest based on a rough idea of the size of your territory. In the Map and Data tab, drop down the Custom View and choose Satellite Imagery View. (The satellite imagery view is only satellite imagery until you get to town zoom levels – then it becomes aerial imagery.) Now toggle back to street view. Do this a few times and get familiar with the landmarks and street names in your area of interest.

Once you decided on the objects you’ll use for your territory boundary, click the draw polygon tool in the draw tool list. Begin tracing your boundary until complete. You can always zoom in and out while drawing to get better perspectives on your overall territory. Finish by bringing the polygon back to the starting point. You’ll see that your completed polygon can be edited by on lines or nodes. You can also query the data bounded by the polygon by clicking the Binocular button. The Polygon edit box, when visible, will allow you to adjust fill colors, line colors, and to change the object order for overlapping object layers.

Other draw tools work the same way. A circle can be placed on the map and then moved to new locations until you set the diameter. To edit an object click the border with your mouse and edit tools reappear.

Lines can be used to highlight particular boundary limits – like a designated East West divider, or to show where a river is. And you’ll notice whenever you are drawing a line, or polygon a measure of the total distance is reported to you. Line highlights allow for various colors and line thicknesses.

So the next time you decide to plot multiple locations on a map check out the draw tools as well.

Adding a MapPoint
At the bottom of the draw tool list is the Add a Location Callout to the Map function. Drop a MapPoint where ever you like. When you add a location to the map in this fashion a map point symbol is placed on the map by your cursor. A small toolbar accompanies the point. The toolbar lets you create an immediate radius search, or a drive time search. In the Salesforce.com edition the toolbar includes a button that will launch account data from Salesforce.com. You can also choose to add the new location to an existing dataset or start a new dataset in MBO. You have access to an editing box that lets you adjust the symbol assigned to your location, and edit data associated with the point. This edit box also lets you adjust the callout parameters labeling your point, including text and color.

As always you can save and share maps using interactive MapShare, save as image files, or print MapLarge PDF format for plotter prints.

And don’t forget another way to add a point to the map is to simply type an address into the Address Bar at the upper left above the map. Type it in using this format: Address, City, ST to accurately place a point on the map. You’ll get the exact same set of tools as the MapPoint insert above.

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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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Are Your Business Map Users Edit Worthy?

Map Business Online business mapping software is being applied by larger and larger organizations. Call volumes are way up, especially with demise of Microsoft MapPoint as businesses seek a MapPoint replacement. We recently added collaborative mapping or Team Editing, which means multiple map users can be organized into teams which share maps for co-editing purposes. Price breaks kick in at quantities of five or more users. At those higher subscription volumes buyers get the added benefit of team account management – which is basically set-up for shared subscriptions and editing privileges. Account managers can move members in and out of teams for collaborative/shared map editing. How cool-aborative. (Apologies.)

Why Shared Map Editing?
You’ve heard the phrase, two heads are better than one. Well this age-old concept applies to strategic planning through maps too. Collaborative map editing leverages the ideas of multiple map editors. Your company gets the benefit of team collaboration when solving location-based business challenges:

Sales territory management collaboration encourages greater accountability across the organization and assures data updates happen in a timely fashion. Share sales goals and objectives and publish periodic results through shared maps.
Collaboration on operational maps ensures cross-department assessment of business challenges such as balancing cost savings strategies against customer service tactics. Get accounting and sales to share responsibility for the same problem
• Shared map editing can bridge the time gaps left by 24/7 operating schedules as teams of editors have the ability to update map data and assure the most recent data gets shared to the most important map audience
Market analysis maps can be collaborative too, bridging the gap between agency and client in a visual way. Tweaking demographic map views and market areas of interest can lead to faster solutions for campaign development and management
• Collaborative maps are a great way to share updated business information with teams of free viewers. Map editors keep the shared data fresh and accessible for your field of map viewers. Fresh data leads to better and faster decision-making.

Edit Worthy or Free Map Viewer?
Creating a team of map editors means your business needs to decide who will be on each team. How many of your employees are map edit worthy? This critical decision will determine how much you spend on subscriptions per year.

Each full year subscription provides team editing subscribers with the ability to share up to 200 FREE MapShare sessions per month. These are free interactive web map sessions designed for non-editing map viewers. You, as a map editor get to share 200 sessions at no charge with your map viewing audience. They can pan/zoom, query, filter, export and route – but free viewing users cannot edit the map. If you require significantly more map views than available with the subscription, we can provide expanded views for a reasonable fee. For most businesses the free MapShare allowance is more than enough shared map views.

So, a prospective buyer of Map Business Online should consider how many of your map users are editors and how many are map viewers. This will significantly impact your initial pricing. Who on your team is edit-worthy? And consider that you can always purchase a subscription for up and coming editors a little later.

Another consideration, as you estimate free viewership requirements, is that people do not click on maps as much as you expect them to. Sure, at first your shared map might get a whole bunch of clicks as people test the link (and we do not count first launch views in hit/click calculations). But in the longer run, you’ll find people click on these links only when they have to. You’ll have a few map geeks that really love the map and for the rest it’s a big yawn. Evidently they’ve got better things to do. So don’t over think your free MapShare requirement. To encourage use, make the free map view part of your process.

Enterprise Business Mapping Requirements
Businesses of all sizes have limited resources. Your business may have serious and heavy-duty GIS map capabilities that they pay big bucks to support. And the chances are good that if your business does support advanced mapping applications your department’s requirements are on a list of to-do’s waiting for approval or for somebody to get the time to provide you with a map. And don’t ask to tweak it after it’s been presented if you value your current head placement.

AAA Rated: Affordable – Advanced – Accessible
Business mapping applications like Map Business Online let you break through business silos and access your business maps now. You need location-based services applied to your department now, not next month. And you’ll need to be able to test different map views – adjusted demographics, various zoom levels, Census tracts vs. zip codes. Don’t let your business decisions wait for maps that may never show up. Access maps, demographic data, marketing analysis, territory views and customer maps today and tweak them all you want.

Business maps supplement a variety of business processes like customer relationship management (CRM), order processing, logistics planning, and many other sales and marketing work flows. Take advantage of Map Business Online’s low price point, its ability to implement shared map editing, and our recent integration with Salesforce.com.

You’ve found an affordable business mapping solution published by a company on the move. Just check out our press releases since January – MapBusinessOnline.com Press Releases.

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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.

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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.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, g2crowd

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