Recently I heard that an established company halted the recruitment of a VP of Sales to conduct a market study first. They weren't doing a formal market assessment, which should have been conducted during the product development stage and not in sales delivery. By the way, a formal market assessment is defined amongst many things as the desk work done to estimate the total available market for a product or service.
It turns out that this market study would include a census of potential clients. A census to determine the geographic and industry distribution of potential customers. Once this was complete the company would return to the hiring process empowered with market intel to make the right hire. On the surface this would seem a legitimate strategy. But if I put myself into the position of an incoming Sales VP, I probably wouldn't be happy that this was done before I joined.
Maybe my rationale is unique in that I'm a hands on type person and I'd want to have conducted this myself in order to make better decisions as to sales territories, compensation, rep locations, sales presentations, etc... The "Voice of Customer" is critical to effective sales planning.
More importantly modern solution selling incorporates a high level of collaboration with potential customers. What's better than kicking off sales development during a market study when clients can truly see you as a trusted advisor?