Brooke Barrett, part owner of Manhattan East Suite Hotels, in New York City, resists the temptation simply to assign geographic territories to the sales force, parcel out leads, and get the reps knocking on doors as fast as they can. Instead, her company gives salespeople specific markets to call on. "We call on publishers, travel agents, Wall Street, and retail markets. That way our sales representatives are better able to understand their customers' specific needs and peak demand times," she explains. "Some industries get busy around Christmastime, while others require more hotel rooms in the fall."

The system also provides the family-owned hotel chain with a source of market intelligence that drives advertising dollars and promotional packages. "If the company split up Manhattan into geographic slices, we wouldn't be nearly as sensitive to customers' needs," adds Barrett. "Inevitably, bickering over territories and commissions would ensue."