Organizing and Putting Structure to a Sales Team

Author: 
David Bernard

The organization of a sales team is always relevant no matter what size a business is, whether a start-up, an SME or a Fortune 500 company. As teams add salespeople to increase their depth of talent, it is important for them to take into account the overall team structure. This includes assessing the organization’s sales setup quarterly in order to make adjustments depending on employees’ skill sets and sales performance.

Of course, a team’s configuration can’t be changed every day, since it’s important to allow time for an organization and its salespeople to perform and get acclimated. However, it is vital to regularly take stock.

Assessing a sales team’s structure at the end of every quarter, for example, can help companies adjust as necessary for the following quarter. During the last quarter, a more in-depth analysis with the full year’s results can set up any major changes for the following year.

In our experience, there are three main implementation steps which shape a sales team effectively:

1. Define objectives

To start, organizations should ask themselves: How are things going? Are we satisfied with our results? What are our future goals?

A start-up has neither the same means nor the same goals as a large company. It’s important to take these differences into account to choose a structure that is best suited to an organization’s needs and ambitions.

To help with this, companies can start by defining turnover and growth; but they also assess:

  • Average spend per client
  • Any priority targets
  • The territory
  • The size of the sales team
  • The means at disposal

This work makes it possible to visualize ambitions and the relating means quickly and whether they’re ambitious, realistic or not.

2. Specialize teams

Senior leaders might have certain doubts about specializing teams because they want to give salespeople the opportunity to touch multiple activities, from prospecting, to social selling, to managing new business, to participating in events, and more. The list is long. By offering the ability to do everything means there will likely be times when salespeople will do some of these things poorly, or even terribly. And unfortunately, the risks can be detrimental.

It takes a lot of time to become excellent in a given field. As Malcolm Gladwell explains, “You need 10,000 hours of practice to achieve a level of mastery equivalent to a world-class expert.”

By splitting out activities, e.g., prospecting, closing, social selling, companies can put a real know-how into place and differentiate among the competition.

3. Create access to information

Information is the key to success and holds the structure of a sales team together. It’s important to define the sales process and to detail the different mechanisms and communicate this across salespeople. Every member of the team must be able to access information, and participate in this process of justification, client management, prospect follow-up and document marketing.

By bringing in this synergy and extrapolating the feedback and points of view of different individuals, organizations can create a process that’s best tailored to the reality on the ground. Integrating marketing teams is also critical, as sales and marketing teams are becoming more and more closely linked.

There are still far too many companies where communication is poor between these two departments; this leads to supports that are not used or a very low level of coordination when taking action. Reactivity and communication between different teams are elements that are essential to success.

Organizations can’t just keep adding salespeople and expecting that the business will keep growing. Senior sales leaders should implement a structure that maximizes the efficiency of every employee. What makes it exciting is that this job never ends. Structuring an organization should be a mobile, evolving process in today’s ever-changing business environment.

David Bernard is CEO of AssessFirst, a recruitment management solution used by companies and businesses of all sizes to find candidates that can grow, develop and succeed in the positions they are applying for.