As a newly hired sales rep, I began the way I did at every new company, spending the first several weeks typing furiously into a growing Excel spreadsheet. It wasn’t until after my own special brand of analysis, that I would begin full-on selling. I was always taught to plan my attack and then attack my plan. The plan comes first, and then the attack.

My manager liked the approach and asked me to present the process to the entire sales team. What was it that I did that others didn’t?

Rather than react to inbound leads or simply start at the top of a list and work my way down, I analyzed my territory before I began. My goal was never about just hitting quota, but rather to generate the most revenue possible from my territory.

I presented a process that looked something like this:

Step one: Create a list of all accounts in my territory that currently did business with us.

Step two: Add to that list, all companies that should be a customer but aren’t.

That resulted in a complete list of target accounts. I could do this because my territory was very defined—the semiconductor industry in the western half of the U.S. Because of that, I could identify the several hundred accounts within my territory.

Step three: Categorize the accounts into A-B-C groups based on their likelihood to buy (how well they fit our ideal customer profile). This resulted in a nicely ordered list of accounts.

It was imperative to prioritize because, with several hundred accounts, I couldn’t execute a plan for each of them (this is possible now with new sales outreach technologies).

Step four:  Group A is the place to start. For each account within Group A I did a white-space analysis to determine what products they should buy from us but haven’t along with any recurring revenue I should expect. This gave me my Total Addressable Market (TAM) for Group A.

Step five: Begin finding the right buyer contacts and mapping out the political landscape using a sales intelligence platform.

While it’s not a complicated process, it most certainly is a time-consuming one. The question I asked myself was, “Why wasn’t this done for me?” Indeed, “Why isn’t it done for every salesperson?” Salespeople aren’t data experts. Nor are we spreadsheet jockeys. It’s no surprise then, why most of the reps had not done this exercise.

Analyzing territories and prioritizing activities are just two examples of what Brent Adamson of CEB refers to as Seller Burdens. You’re likely familiar with the stats on how salespeople spend their time: 35% of time spent could be classified as sales activities while 65% could be classified as non-selling activities. What salespeople do during the 65% of their time could well be considered seller burdens.

Read It: How to Create a Sales Territory Plan with a Buyer-Centric Approach

What would happen if organizations began removing seller burdens one at a time starting with prospect analysis?

Who within the company would take this on? As noted, it’s a time-consuming process. Imagine doing it for every one of your sales reps. Perhaps it’s time for a new marketing or sales role to appear.

Now might just be the time to consider it, especially if you’re transitioning to an account-based everything approach.

New roles are popping up all around us. We’re seeing sales roles divide up into specialized focus on different parts of the sales cycle. Sales Development Reps (SDRs), Business Development Reps (BDRs), who focus on the front-end of the sales cycle are more and more common in sales organizations. Some are even making a more significant change moving SDRs or BDRs out of sales and into marketing.

Think about what this new prospect analyst role. Let’s give it a name. How about Territory Analyst Manager? The abbreviation of “TAM” would be suitable since TAM also stands for Total Addresable Market.

If the TAM provided sales reps with this head start, I think you could make a strong argument it would give your company a strategic advantage. Furthermore, that advantage would extend beyond the ability to prioritize accounts based on who’s more likely to buy, what they should buy, and how much they should spend. Imagine the additional analysis you could conduct.

You could identify and even set targets based on the percent of TAM you’re able to capture. Or perhaps even set targets for product lines knowing the TAM for each product within a rep’s territory. Or, how about using the information to better distribute territories across sales reps.

One thing is for certain, if you don’t map out your available opportunities and the best path for converting them into revenue, you aren’t likely to maximize your revenue. It reminds me of the Yogi Berra quote, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up somewhere else.” Where do you want to end up? I’d say 100% of TAM would be a great destination to head for.

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Nancy Nardin
About the author

Nancy Nardin

Nancy Nardin is a nationally recognized thought leader on sales and marketing productivity tools. Her firm, Smart Selling Tools – of which she is the founder and President – is dedicated to helping marketers and sellers apply process and technology to drive revenue.