A guide to better visit planning: Call Cycles vs Visit Frequencies

With a long customer list and limited time, how is it possible to get to everyone regularly? Aren’t you missing out on some of your most valuable customers? 

   

Being busy does not necessarily imply being productive.  Being productive in field sales means optimising time with the right customers. How do you know which customers are the right ones to spend time with?  Segmenting your customers can help to identify what each of them need from you. 

 

In this article we will guide you through the process to: 

  • segment your customer base,
  • define what each segment needs from you, and finally 
  • plan your schedule. 

 

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How to segment customers  

Segmentation can help you to understand and service your customers better.  The easiest way to segment your customers is to look at their perceived value and divide them into no more than three to five different groups.  Value can be based on a combination of revenue and other strategic characteristics like industries, and connections a customer might have. The most common segmentation we see is dividing customers into the following groups:  

  • Platinum 
  • Gold 
  • Silver 
  • Bronze 

Typically, the 90-10 rule would apply, where the top 10% of your customers are classified as platinum, and the rest are evenly spread over the remaining segments. This is to ensure that you start by providing your top-level customers with the attention they deserve before working the rest in as time allows.  

 

How often should you see your customers  

The next step is defining the needs of each segment to get the most value for time.  Start with the top segment and work your way down defining what each segment need form you.  This will be a process of going backwards and forwards until you can fit all customers into your scheduled. 

It's important to be realistic about how often you would be able to see each segment.  The top segments would require more visits whereas the lower segments might be fine with an occasional phone call. 

 

Planning your schedule  

When it comes to planning, there are generally two ways of working depending on your requirements:  

  • Call Cycles – used for a fixed schedule  
  • Visit Frequencies – used for a flexible schedule 

 

Call Cycles  

Some industries require that you visit your customers periodically, on the same day each time, to ensure they have enough stock. This can typically be seen in the FMCG environment, where products are sold quickly.  

If you know the rate at which your products typically sell at your customers, you can ensure that you are there to get the next order in on time. In scenarios like this, it helps to have a fixed day on which you visit each customer.  

Dividing your segmented customer list into batches that can be seen together on the same days of the week based on where they are located, can save time on planning over the long run. This plan should be revised from time to time to allow for changes in customers and their requirements.  

Call cycles can be pre-planned and setup in Skynamo to reduce the admin of planning.  Your team would be able to see exactly where they must go and who they must visit every day.  The task calendar and task list can show them what their schedule looks like. 

 

Visit Frequencies  

Visit frequencies allow for more flexibility in scenarios where you don’t have to see all your customers on specific day.  These frequencies can be set up to visit a customer once every two weeks for example.  If you get to the customer any time during the two-week period, it would be fine.  This allows more flexibility in planning allowing time to resolve more important issues when needed. 

The customer list in Skynamo can be filtered to show you which customers you still need to see within the next two weeks to ensure that you don’t miss out on them. 

 

Call Cycles and Visit Frequencies Combined  

Not all customers are the same, so they should also not be managed the same way. Some might require a call cycle being set for them and others would be fine with a visit frequency of being seen roughly once every two weeks, for example.   

Apps like Skynamo can help you identify which customers still need to be seen in the next week or two based on their visit frequencies. By looking at these customers, you can work them in between the other fixed call cycle customers, based on where they are located.  

Fixed call cycles work best for the more important segments that you must see more often.  The lower valued segments can then be worked into you schedule using visit frequencies. 

 

Planning in a nutshell  

The first and most important step of planning better is to segment your customer base according to their value to you. The next step is to identify what each of these segments needs from you and how often you need to see them. Once you know how often you need to speak to each customer, you can start working on planning based on either fixed call cycles, flexible visit frequencies or a combination of the two.  

 

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