How can using GIS improve your sales?

October 2010 » Columns » CE + GIS INTERSECT
Janet Jackson, GISP

GIS perspective
Jackson:
My short and quick answer is that using GIS makes it easy to improve your sales because it allows you to see possibilities that you didn’t know existed. GIS allows you to organize client, office, or personnel facts and figures in a central database. And when your data is transformed into a visual display, it’s easy to see the pattern and trends that (tabular) data creates. Separate lists of names, numbers, facts, and figures, when combined and organized, will show new information about your clients — information that should help create new business development opportunities.

After entering client data into a database, you are ready to let GIS help you find sales answers by requesting information or asking questions such as, “Where are all the stormwater clients we’ve worked with during the last five years?” and, “Where are the clients that signed a contract for more than $25,000 in 2010?”

When your data is transformed into a visual display, it’s easy to see the pattern and trends that (tabular) data creates.

Do you see a pattern or trend emerging? If so, then score one for GIS because it gave you the power to transform raw and scattered data into marketing nuggets of gold such as, “If all our stormwater clients are in the northeast section of our service area, then that’s where we should conduct our next stormwater conference,” or, “Since our clients in the southwest region created the highest return on our marketing dollars, what can we do to expand services in that area?”

Without using GIS, this type of information might be just a hunch swimming around in your head and, therefore, a difficult sell to your marketing manager, especially when you’re trying to allocate scarce marketing dollars carefully. By using client facts and figures and combining them with GIS, your manager will quickly see and understand how to direct your business development plan to improve company sales.

Marketing perspective
Barker
: I once asked a project manager who his target clients were and he replied, “Well, all of them, of course!” Wishful thinking on his part, but these days it’s more important than ever to have a focused strategy to make the best use of precious marketing dollars. And that involves doing your homework (a.k.a. market research) on the four “Ps” of marketing (product, price, place, and promotion). That’s where GIS comes in. GIS can help your organization identify key clients and use queries to identify geographic areas where similar demographics apply to prioritize market growth.

Typically, engineering and surveying firms are regionally based. But is the region you’re in supporting and helping grow your business? Is there growth in areas that you’re not currently in that you should be? What are current market trends and where are they? Who are the competitors in the region? And most importantly, where are the opportunities?

Ultimately, it’s about making good business decisions and then being able to react quickly to put your plans into motion.

There’s plenty of data out there just waiting to be mined (population growth, financial stability, declining infrastructure, et cetera). GIS can help optimize market analysis activities by allowing you easily to see patterns centered on regional areas, which can, in turn, help you decide where to focus efforts. By using GIS you can also reduce the time and effort spent on research, assembling facts, and creating (and updating) reports. Seeing data combined visually on a map makes the decision-making process that much easier, and can also help communicate your sales efforts to others within your organization.

Ultimately, it’s about making good business decisions and then being able to react quickly to put your plans into motion. And when you have the right tools readily at hand to do that, you’re already ahead of the game. World domination aside with the “all of them” strategy, most of us live in the real world with real limitations on time and resources. The trick is pointing them in the right direction.

Janet Jackson, GISP, heads McKim & Creed’s GIS activities company-wide. Jennifer Barker, CPSM, is a marketing manager with McKim & Creed and has been involved in the architectural/engineering marketing field for nearly 20 years. She is an active member and former officer of the Triangle (N.C.) chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services. Contact Jackson and Barker at intersect@mckimcreed.com. McKim & Creed is an engineering, surveying, and planning firm.


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