I was in Nelson, British Columbia recently for an extreme skiing trip in the Selkirk Mountains. I had the opportunity to live on top of Baldface Mountain for a week with 46 other CEOs, and it was incredible to listen to the pitfalls, challenges, best practices, and opportunities in each of their businesses.
Each CEO had their own issues and problems, but one of the things that stuck out for me was the conversation around sales. CEOs couldn’t understand how sales professionals and sales leadership didn’t take ownership of their Total Addressable Market (TAM) or their territory like a CEO would, and they weren’t finding that type of accountability to problem-solving from their sales pros.
So, let me dive deeper into that.
When a seller is given a territory, that is their TAM; that territory can be a vertical, a set of accounts, or a geographic territory. CEOs were frustrated that they would hear sales leaders and professionals talking about a lack of opportunity in the market – they were ill-planned at understanding what opportunities were in the market, and hadn’t made contact with many of the companies in that market. And to the CEOs, that was frustrating. This is business ownership 101 – a non-starter for a CEO. When you write a business plan and submit a proposal to a venture capitalist or firm or bank, and that business plan looks incomplete (as in this is my TAM and I don’t know the companies in there, I haven’t spoken to them), no venture capital company is going to want to talk to you because you haven’t done your basic due diligence. CEOs were frustrated that sales leaders and pros were griping about the lack of leads – but what they weren’t seeing from them were concrete first steps – concrete plans of building visual maps that include remaining opportunities, and the plan of attack. There was a lack of territory planning, let alone account planning, and a lack of sellers and sales leaders taking their territory as seriously as a CEO takes their businesses. That’s why I often call sales professionals the CEO of their own territory.
If you want to succeed as a sales professional or sales leader, and maybe become a business owner, you have to treat your territory as if it is the entire planet, that is your TAM – that is the only thing that matters to you. You need to build a plan and understand it with perfection.
Photo credit to Chad Burmeister: CEO of ScaleX.ai