Really Salespeople's Biggest Complaint?

It’s not often Selling gets a decent mention in the Harvard Business Review. And yet again here’s a piece that slightly misses its mark. My territory is too small is apparently our number one gripe.

As some of the early commentors alluded to, there’d be quite a lot for a survey on major grumbles to hang its hat on.

Turf size, quota enormity, marketing absence, product shortfalls, tech support. The list is endless. Fans of old MacGregor and his X & Y Theories would have a field day. When I hold one-on-ones inside a client salesteam, if I forget to stress our session isn’t about laptop battery life, cold call fliers or management mis-direction I can assure myself of a traumatic talk.

So how the researchers derive at their contention that the biggest gripe is territory size alone I’d certainly like to see.

Still. There is one good point they touch on. When it comes to turf size, here’s some sense;

These concerns, and many others, can be moderated with actionable measures of account or territory market potential

For as long as I can remember this kind of thinking has been termed your virtual territory.

If you don’t know the full spend potential of your patch you are doomed.

I’ve seen many a salesteam struggle with this. The example I like to give comes from several years ago, where a marketing guy stood up and berated an entire sales force for having not a single one of them respond to his request to identify potential in their accounts for a new product he was thinking of introducing. But I’ll leave that one there!

Yet virtual spend only goes so far. Addressable market helps continue the journey.

There’s a number of elements to take into consideration here.

Do you know the heuristics governing potential spend for your product in your sector? I recall years ago the office product guys used to have several such rules of thumb. A lawyer will spend fifty quid per employee per month on stationery, whereas a manufacturer only thirty. That sort of thing. Many companies I come across today have similar guidelines. Even if as broad as how much a percentage of turnover is likely spent by someone in their space.

Then there’s the fabled gap analysis. Where is the vaunted white space? If someone’s taking x, then surely they ought to be taking y too?

And what about the factors meaning we are blocked out? Maybe a contract tie-in elsewhere, or some other limiting factor?

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