Sales organization structure represents a mix of guidelines, procedures, and tools to support sales efforts. Structure drives your sales force, determines your performance, and influences your relationship with clients. To seize more opportunities, successful sales organizations are always ready to change outdated selling processes, and structure is the first thing they redesign. The following tips will give you a place to start.
Research shows mathematical algorithms won’t do the trick when building a solid sales structure. To get it right, you have to make tons of decisions about how to do things in the organization. Here are the first factors to consider:
- specialization (study your products, markets and selling activities to determine the number of generalists and expert sales reps you need);
- coverage (study your desired markets and selling activities and determine which markets you should cover);
- coordination and management (study the existing span of control and determine the most efficient team and management structure).
- What are you selling? Do your products or markets need specialization or extensive knowledge? The answers help you think through the level of domain specialization and years of sales experience required.
- Which sales roles do you need? Are you selling direct, through channels, distributors and partners, brick-and-mortar, or different combinations? What are the sales processes and roles of your reps in different selling stages? What are the responsibilities of those roles?
- How many reps will you need for each sales role? How will you segment the market to the assigned roles? The answers help you think through sizing the sales force across various roles.
Think through the right bandwidth that your sales force needs to sell your products across all targeted markets. When a sales job exceeds a salesperson bandwidth it‘s time to review the sizing of the area of responsibility (geography, number of assigned accounts, etc.) Leverage your product and market specialists, or create a unique combination that suits your industry.
These factors are just a starting point to help you think through the structure of your organization. You also need a sound understanding of your industry and strong intuition about what will work for your particular organization.
After you put the right sales structure in place, don’t get too attached.
Be ready to change it as business needs evolve. Get sales force buy-in with a strong communication plan. Research shows the right sales structure improves productivity and increases revenues, so putting a lot of thought into it will pay off.