Back in the early days of the web, I had a map that visitors could click on to find their local salesperson. It was just simple hot spots on a map jpeg that I had borrowed from another website. (Funny thing was how many hits that page got by people searching for ‘USA map’… via Alta Vista no less!)
As the web became a stronger lead-generator, I streamlined the inquiry-path, and eliminated the map. All inquiries would go to one email address and phone number. The outside reps complained, of course, but it worked pretty well.
Now, ten years later, I am adding back a rep-locator map. Why? Well, that’s complicated, but essentially it is a feature that remained in demand since I pulled it, both by customers and reps. The rest of this post will describe the work required to do this in 2010.
Steps to adding a rep-locator map
1. Figuring out what you want – I already knew I didn’t just want a list of reps (or a pull-down list of states), so a map seemed like the best user interface, if it could be done right. I started googling and the term ‘sales rep locator map’, which brought me to some interesting examples of the way other websites are doing this. Some bad, some overkill, and a few just-right.
2. Figuring out you can buy the solution – The beauty of the internet: someone has a solution for free or paid for about anything you can think of. A true “cool” moment when I realized I didn’t have to have a lame locator tool.
3. Selecting a solution – I settled on the FLA-Shop’s USA map tool because it seemed easy to work with without messing with the flash file. I especially liked that the map was interactive, so the page doesn’t reload … and the visitor still has access to real text so they can copy/paste email or phone numbers.
4. Setting it up – I had some quality geek time setting up the XML file and making the HTML work within my existing website. I added text links to the bottom for Canada and Mexico and made them work within the tool. But then the code started misbehaving …
5. Get your developer involved – Okay, I’ll call my version “proof of concept”. But Mike Boyink was able to use Expression Engine (already in place as the site’s CMS) to manage the reps’ contact info data, which I was thrilled he did.
6. Go live! – and get on to other projects!
One other improvement to the site done about the same time was to add filters to the product-listings tables via jquery tools I had read about. For some product lines with over 30 models, this was a god-send. Thanks to Mike for doing the dirty work on that.
As I’ve said over and over on this blog, even if you aren’t technically able, just knowing what it is possible to make your website do will get you light years ahead of the competition.