Green Business Travel – Increase Sales and Save the Whales!

A recent survey conducted by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives found that 79 percent of respondents see cost cutting as a top business travel concern, while only 17 percent felt that promoting environmentally sustainable travel was a top priority. This contrasts with a November 2007 survey where 29 percent of the respondents felt environmentally responsible travel was a top issue.

Wow – environmentally responsible travel seems to have taken a hit in the last 18 months. Gee – what’s changed between 2007 and 2009. Oh yeah – duh – the economy has tanked, hasn’t it?! So – concern for the environment is trumped by concern for keeping the doors open – is that it?

Well – the reality is, you gotta do what you gotta do. But for you sales managers laying awake at night sweating your sales organization’s ever-expanding carbon footprint – take heart! There’s something you can do right now that will green up your sales force -and believe it or not, help you increase sales in the process.

Remember the gas ‘crises’ of the 70’s and 80’s and, oh yeah – last summer was kind of tough, wasn’t it? One of the things people did to conserve fuel and combat skyrocketing costs was to consolidate trips. Rather than head out and back several times to run daily errands, they’d plan ahead and meet their objectives in one trip instead of two or three. The primary goal here was to save gas dollars – but one of the side benefits was reduced green-house emissions.

Smart businesses are all about increasing productivity. Think about all the initiatives you’ve embarked on over the years to help your people get more done in less time. Well, consolidating trips is a program you can implement right now to increase your sales travel productivity. Not only will your people see more prospects in the same amount of time, but they’ll expend fewer resources and – bonus – emit less pollutants into the atmosphere.

Cost conscious managers who help their sales people plan ahead to maximize prospect calls on a trip will reduce travel expenses, increase sales and assuage their pained enviro-consciences. You pick your rationale for why maximizing travel productivity is important – no matter how you look at it, it just makes good business sense. Regardless of where you are on the environmental spectrum – I think all of us can agree that taking less ‘wasted’ trips reduces travel costs, adds dollars to your bottom line and makes the world just a little greener.

So how do you help your team plan the most efficient sales travel? Tell them to purchase a low cost laptop trip management software. There are several versions available from Microsoft, DeLorme, Garmin, ESRI and more. Several packages are under $40. You can even add an integrated GPS receiver to some for under $80 combined.

These packages will allow your reps to plot their prospects and customers down to the street level on their map. When setting up sales calls, they’ll easily be able to locate the best prospects in a particular region and generate efficient routes that let them maximize their time in front of the prospect selling, and minimize time behind the windshield driving.

When reps see their accounts plotted on the map, they’ll spot opportunities they might have missed without a visual representation of their territory. Diligently working a region can prevent an unnecessary plane trip back to the same area because you missed a hot prospect on the first run out. And since airplanes make up the biggest emissions component of business travel, any flights you can avoid through better planning will contribute big time to your ‘eco-karma’. Not to mention – save you big money in travel expenses.

Got a sales call pop up that your rep has to fly and see right now? Make sure they use laptop mapping to search for additional prospects in the area. They’re there anyway – help them make the most of their time by seeing additional opportunities. You know it will lead to more sales – and spread the trip emissions load over multiple accounts.

Increased productivity through intelligent territory management yields huge sales benefits in addition to reducing costs and saving the polar bears. If your sales force can see 5 prospects a week without planning on a laptop software product, they can see 6 easily with it. Generally, a sales force can increase the amount of prospects they see using laptop mapping by 20 percent. That translates into a 20% increase in sales (sales is about numbers, right?), decreases your cost of sales (seeing more prospects in the same amount of travel expenditures) and of course – reduces your organization’s carbon footprint.

The bottom line is – better planning increases your bottom line – and it simply makes your company greener. So all you sleepless, tortured green conscious sales managers out there – take heart! You don’t have to choose between reducing costs and traveling green – you can do both – and increase sales too!