Sales & Territory Planning is the process of geographically balancing work within in a region into individual territories and creating cyclical visit plans for those territories. STP is widely used by companies with a travelling sales workforce or set delivery requirements to distribute work evenly to amongst and to create consistent and balanced workdays.
Sales and Territory planning creates a balance between call “Efficiency” and “Effectiveness”
It incorporates relevant business rules and sales metrics such as revenue, volume, frequency requirements, time windows and delivery patterns and geography.
Can be quickly adjusted to deal with growth/seasonal changes and allows easy reporting capabilities.
Creates balanced sales territories and service day assignments with map driven and optimised route plans.
Bestrane has experienced Sales and Vehicle Routing Consultants who will not only utilise Descartes Route Planner RS product to create efficient territories and daily master routes but have the consulting expertise to assist businesses in developing effective structures that generate highest value.
Any company that has a large base of customers that require regular visits sooner or later faces a problem of organising an efficient schedule of visits to existing and prospective customers. The solution is to split customer base in a number of territories and then assign a Sales Representative to each of them.
Defining Customer Base
At this stage it is important to determine which customers will get a physical visit and which customers will be serviced by a phone call. Usually all customers are separated into classes and each class gets assigned a revenue cut off value, however the actual solution largely depends on the service problem is a first place. So, for example, a company that provides a regular delivery and replenishment services (delivery of newspapers, delivery of bread, refilling of gas cisterns) would be quite restricted in what they can do in terms of choosing whether to visit customer or not as well as service frequency.
On the other hand a soft drinks distributor will have a great flexibility in choosing whether a simple phone call will be enough.
At this stage it is also necessary to look at the potential customer base, since businesses are not static and customer base can either grow or shrink which should also be taken into account.
Establishing a Base Line
Usually Sales and Territory planning is conducted as means to improve already existing service routes and schedules which means that in large majority of cases territories and visit schedules already exist and therefore it is possible to establish how much it currently cost to service existing clients as well as to calculate future expenditure if service levels and schedule remain the same.
In our experience establishing a base line proved to be a very valuable exercise as it allowed businesses to objectively measure achieved improvements and to run different what-if scenarios.
Establishing Service Frequencies, Time and Constraints
Before service frequencies can be determined a general service cycle length needs to be agreed upon. The cycle length is usually calculated as a common denominator of all possible service frequencies, so for example if half of the customers are proposed to be serviced once a month and the other half every fortnight then the cycle length will be four weeks. However if some customers are proposed to be serviced once every three weeks then cycle length will be 12 weeks as it is the lowest common denominator between two, three and four week visit frequencies.
It is highly recommended to choose cycle length as low as possible, because it affects number of routing schedules and significantly reduces planning time.
Once cycle length has been established and agreed upon the next step would be to define how frequently each customer needs to be serviced. Usually the following parameters are used: gross sales revenue, forecasted revenue, customer maintenance level, relationship level, forecasted product consumption rates etc.
After service frequencies are established the overall customer service time needs to be set, it can be as low as couple of minutes and as long as several hours and is usually determined based on historical data.
It is very important to correctly define all possible service constrains such as customer closing and opening times and days, maximum daily driving distance, maximum daily number of visits, whether stem time (time from depot for deliveries or from home for sales representative to the first stop and from the last stop back) should be taken into account, whether overnight stay is permitted, whether trucks can be reloaded from multiple depots, whether multiple trips are allowed etc. The constraints can have a significant impact on all aspects of sales and territory planning.
Defining Number of Territories and their Shapes
The next step is to split established customer database into territories, there are various considerations that need to be taken into account when defining territories such as geography, territory future potential, consumer trends, government development program etc. in short territory definition can be as simple as making sure that the total number of customers are equal and as complicated as taking a variety of variable into account.
Splitting Territories into Service Days and Weeks
Each territory, once defined, has to be split into days and weeks, the overall aim is to make sure that visits are clustered together as close as possible to minimise travel distances. The importance of clustering increases with the size of territories, so for example, in CBD area it may not be overly important which customer is serviced on which day since travel distances are minimal, however in the area that lays across several typical Australian suburbs it is very important that customers are located as close as possible on each day.
Establishing a Rough Total and Travel Times
Once territories and service days have been defined it is useful to run a quick analysis which will show rough total service and travel times to verify that none of the defined constrains have been broken and workload is evenly distributed across all territories.
Refining Initial Assumptions
Sales and Territory Planning is rarely carried with all assumptions known before hand, in our experience many businesses have a pretty good idea of what they want to achieve, however can not define all service parameters upfront and also would like to run a number of what-if scenarios. Therefore usually Sales and Territory planning is an iterative process where number of territories and service frequencies and service times are revised several times to achieve sensible solution.
Generating Daily Routes
The last stage of the planning process is to create a daily visiting sequence that is optimised for travel time. Customer’s soft and hard windows, delivery rules (what can be put on truck with), number of delivery trucks, their capacity and location of depots will have the most influence on how routes will be created.