Five Key Steps to Building a Lean Sales Structure

Large sales organizations struggle to remain adaptable in a rapidly changing, increasingly complex environment. A lean sales force structure is vital to staying ahead of peers.

According to expert Scott Gruher, proper structuring of the sales force produces a double digit revenue uplift.

Here are five steps to building a flexible, effective sales structure:

  1. Eliminate redundancies. Too may different sales reps covering the same territories or customer-related activities obviously results in unnecessary costs. Duplication can also spark conflicts and infighting amongst salespeople. When sales force structures are built mainly around products or customer groups, territorial aspects can get neglected. Unify systems, processes and protocols to make sure the organization is not wasting time and resources because of redundancy.
  2. Keep the sales force structure aligned to corporate goals and market conditions. The sales organization has to be able to execute the company’s strategy, and meet short-term and long-term goals. Also, it has to be able to adapt to shifts in focus from one market to another, or from one type of product to another. Reassess the sales force structure to ensure it can keep up with changes in different market segments, territories, or industries altogether.
  3. Match your best sales reps with your best customers. The principle of “80% of revenues from 20% of the accounts” should not be applied indiscriminately, because it has its limits. Always pushing the best accounts towards the top reps can deepen imbalances in the team, and demotivate the average performer. However, large accounts have a large impact on revenues, and as a result it is important to secure them.The top clients will appreciate having dedicated resources allocated to them, providing high quality servicing.
  4. Increase executive management’s visibility into the sales organization. Management has to be able to quickly respond to change, with decisions based on a complete, accurate data set. Spot underperforming territories, teams or business areas for fast course-correction. Gain confidence in how the leaders of the organization manage the sales structure to respond to planned and unplanned change.
  5. Adapt the sales structure to the organization’s business life cycle. Needless to say a start-up or the new division of a company must take a different approach to fine tuning the sales force structure compared to a mature organization, or to one that has to downsize. Prepare the sales organization for the future and look beyond the current year. Put the right sales structures into place to cope with major strategic shifts.

You might also enjoy reading about the advantages and disadvantages of different sales structures.

Dan Mageau


Dan puts his creative mindset to work helping organizations sell more through sales tactics innovation. With over three years of experience in sales effectiveness solutions and sales performance, he works at Optymyze as a consultant in various industries ranging from telecom to medical devices. Besides his extensive work on sales operations, he enjoys jumping in ad-hoc consulting projects such as quota setting, plan redesign implementation, and plan health assessment.

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