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What is TAM and How Does It Relate to Sales?

By: Amy Sariego

Originally posted on June 18, 2021
Last updated on September 28, 2021

If you’re a salesperson, you already know exactly how important it is to always have a pool of leads to pull from and pitch to. It’s what makes your job possible. But having and calling on those leads is often a lot easier than the process of finding them. 

At Dakota, our sales team has spent countless hours trying to grow and maintain their pipeline. They do so using tools like Salesforce and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and a lot of cold outreach. But we’ve been at this since 2006, and have raised $35B in that time. And what's more, we’ve refined our sales process a lot in fifteen years. You’re not alone when it comes to struggling to find new leads. 

Which is why in this post, we’ll be sharing how we grow our Total Addressable Market (TAM), exactly what that means, and how it relates to sales. By the time you’ve finished this article, you’ll have a better understanding of exactly why knowing not just who to call on but when and why to call them, can make all the difference to your business. 

What is TAM?

As we mentioned above, TAM stands for “total addressable market,” which is the pool of leads and people who buy what you sell. 

One of the most important things for any salesperson to learn is that finding those people who buy what you sell is the key to success. 

Your goal should be to increase that number one at a time every day. We know this makes it sound like a never ending mission, and while it may seem that way, it doesn’t mean you won’t be closing business in the meantime. In fact, if you’re in the investment business, you’re basically trying to align on one thing — finding that product market fit and actively pursuing it. 

There are two things going on in every investment strategy:

  1. The type of investment strategy 
  2. The product structure 

Based on those criteria, you can reach out to the people who invest in your specific strategy, or the people that invest within the product structure. Once you determine that, you can determine your target market by channel. 

How to grow your TAM 

Think of your TAM in terms of channels. Make sure you have as complete a dataset as you can possibly have, and work on growing and managing that data every single day. This keeps your data fresh and ensures that you always have someone new to reach out to.

At Dakota, what we’ve found successful is focusing on one channel at a time. For example, if you start with 200 RIAs, and consistently look for, and grow the number of RIAs who use outside managers. Qualifying the buyer, keeping the data fresh, assessing the buyers in totality. 

Additionally, we recommend always seeking out the new.

Find new pools of capital that buy what you sell. Avoid wasting too much time calling on pools of capital that either don’t invest in your strategy, or invest in your strategy in a small amount. For example, if you’re looking at 12 RIAS, you might only find that only 2% of them are actively investing in your strategy, which means it is most likely a waste of your team’s time. 

Mistakes salespeople make when it comes to their TAM

The number one mistake we see people making is trying to be all things to all people. We’ve talked in a previous article about the one golden rule of sales, which is to only sell to people who buy what you sell. This remains true here, and we would encourage you to really hone in on finding your niche in your industry.

Find that product-market fit and size up your strategy and product structure within the channels that invest in those types of strategies, rather than spending time trying to sell to people who aren’t a fit for your firm. 

How to get started growing your own TAM

At Dakota, we always recommend starting with what you have.

Do a data deep dive and see where you can grow your leads. Could you add more RIAs? More Hedge Funds, or ETFs? Once you start putting in the time with what you have, and growing it incrementally every day, you will find success. It comes down to being patient, diligent, and hyper-focused on your specific niche. 

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