Building a sales team involves more than hiring a few sales agents and putting them in a room together to have them sell your product or service. Sales teams need a proper structure and productive processes to help them move their prospects through the sales funnel with ease.
If you want consistent growth and revenue, you will need to decide what sales team structure is best for your business. You will also need a strategy that helps you to build a great sales team that fits within your company goals and structure.
What Is a Sales Team Structure?
A sales team structure refers to the way workflows are organized for a sales team. The sales structure model you implement determines whether or not your sales team will maintain an efficient workflow.
An efficient sales team structure is beneficial for your entire business. Productive sales teams are the key to a high-performing business and satisfied clients. Having the proper structure helps you to keep your team motivated to hit their goals, drive sales, and fuel revenue.
According to a recent study conducted by Harvard Business Review (HBR), about 50 percent of sales organizations that are considered high-performing have well-structured sales processes.
Sales Team Roles
Before you can truly understand a sales team structure, you must consider the roles that make up a sales team. Here is the anatomy of most modern sales teams with an overview of their job duties:
A sales manager is the overseer of all aspects of the sales team operations. They are responsible for leading the sales team and making sure they are working collaboratively to achieve their set goals.
They measure the performance of each sales team member and devise techniques and strategies to help them work more efficiently.
Sales Development Representative
A sales development representative concentrates on the research provided by lead generation to qualify prospects. They may call the leads to ask for additional information to better understand how the prospect needs to be helped.
Sales development reps only forward leads that are qualified to account executives.
Account executives are responsible for closing sales.
They are the team members that receive qualified leads and go after the sale by providing product demonstrations, responding to potential customers’ questions and concerns, and overcoming objections.
Customer Service Representative
This sales team member specializes in assisting customers with several aspects regarding a new product or service.
A customer service representative makes sure the customer is happy and discovers new opportunities to connect to the customer to make a more meaningful connection.
Some sales teams have a sales administrative assistant that handles all administrative tasks so the sales team can focus on closing deals.
Many small organizations opt to have sales professionals handle their own administrative tasks.
What Is Inside Sales?
The process of inside sales refers to selling services and products to leads and prospects remotely via email, telephone, and other digital selling methods. Inside sales reps generally don’t meet the individuals they sell their company’s products or services to in person.
Inside sales may also be called remote sales or digital sales. It usually takes place in an office setting where an entire sales team is located.
What Is Outside Sales?
Outside sales is the opposite of inside sales, which means it involves selling products and services through in-person interactions and face-to-face meetings.
Outside sales representatives travel directly to their prospects to meet them at their homes, offices, or other locations.These teams must rely on their relationship-building skills to help them establish and maintain good in-person relationships with prospects and customers.
Sales Team Structure Examples
Here are three main sales team structures that have a proven track record to help your sales team work productively and cultivate growth in your organization.
The Assembly Line
This sales structure is a classic model that has been used to help drive the industrial revolution and assist Henry Ford with building his Model T vehicle. The assembly line model can be used for your sales team if you break down your team into four different groups:
- Lead generation
- Sales development representatives (SDRs)
- Account executives (AEs)
- Customer service teams
The assembly line model works to leverage your sales team’s strengths as they specialize in their separate functions and roles.
Each part of the sales cycle has a specialized team that can help them best, which may help to improve their overall experience if the process goes according to plan.
Since each unit of your sales team or assembly line is specialized in their functions, you can easily hold them accountable when they don’t reach the sales goals they are responsible for.
By applying this model, you can make it easier to separate bottlenecks that happen in your sales funnel, and fix them as necessary. This model helps to create predictability, and specialization is often related to more efficiency.
Some drawbacks of the assembly model include the lack of ownership over a customer, interference with sales flow and customer experience, and less emotional engagement between sales team members and customers.
This sales structure is representative of an island because it works based on the idea that each sales team member is on their own during the sales process. Throughout this structure, the sales representative is responsible for all aspects related to the sales cycle, such as:
- Generating leads
- Qualifying leads
- Closing deals
- Identifying or creating upsell opportunities
Some sales reps call the island method the sell or die method because it is a high-pressure sales model with little structure. This method often works well for organizations that still rely on their founder for many of the deals they close. It also works for companies that cannot afford to pay a large sales team.
The island sales team structure uses fewer resources than other models and is great for businesses that are on a strict budget. It also allows for an emotional connection to be made between customers and sales reps.
Some drawbacks to the island method may include:
- Less control over the brand presentation
- Risk of customers leaving if they have a connection with a sole sales rep that is let go or quits
- Doesn’t provide new sales reps with an opportunity to develop or keep up with more experienced sales personnel
The pod structure for sales teams incorporates small groups of sales personnel who specialize in sales tasks and processes. The small groups of sales professionals work together to meet sales goals and metrics.
The pods often include sales employees who generate leads, qualify leads, close deals, and onboard new customers. This structure is essentially a mixture of the island and assembly line sales team structures.
Organizations that use the assembly line method often progress to the pod sales team structure naturally over time. This model often works well with large sales teams.
Pod sales structures often help each individual on the team appreciate and understand the customer journey. It also helps to facilitate agility and flexibility for the sales team.
Some drawbacks of the pod method include:
- Limits natural growth because of the reduction of competition between team members
- Decreases the specialization involved in each role
How to Build a Successful Sales Team
Your organization needs a productive and efficient sales team to help your business experience a consistent flow of revenue. Here are some steps you can take to help you build a successful sales team:
1. Analyze Your Current Sales Situation.
Before you can begin building your dream sales team, you need to know where your current sales team stands. This means diagnosing any issues and determining the sort of talent you need to hire to enhance your sales processes.
For example, your team may have the necessary resources, but they may not be able to handle the number of requests that come through your pipeline. This requires you to add more sales team members to help keep up with demand, thereby promoting the continued growth of your business.
Alternatively, you may be starting from scratch, which means you need to attract talent. This means you’ll need to review key hard and soft skills that fit your sales structure and company goals before you begin posting job openings.
2. Determine Who You Need and What They Do.
After you analyze your sales environment, you can begin to take the next steps toward attaining what you need. This may take some time as you begin to identify the end goal you want your sales team to have. Some questions you may ask yourself include:
- Will my sales team be an aggressive group of cold callers?
- Are my sales team members going to be focused on customer care and engagement?
- What does my ideal team structure look like?
If you already have a sales team in place, make sure to ask your team members what they actually do so you can see if they perform other sales tasks outside of your expectations. This will help you see what your missing parts are and you’ll hire new talent accordingly.
3. Take Time Hiring.
Hiring is a time-consuming process, and it is best not to rush that process. It is essential that you create a thorough vetting process to make sure you are receiving the right candidates for your sales team.
Make sure to conduct your sales interviews carefully and testcandidates based on your unique sales style to see how they will fare on your team.
Some things you may do to search for new talent include:
- Referrals from current team members
- Recruiting events
- Advertising on job search engines
- Outsourcing hiring to an outside recruiter
4. Track the Progress of Your Sales Team.
Review the metrics for your sales team often and keep up to date on any progress they make with prospects. Take note of their successes and praise them for the deals they close.
You may even consider adding extra monetary awards for sales professionals who close tough deals or large accounts for your business. This helps keep your team engaged and excited about their sales productivity.
However, to build a successful team you must decide what success means. What does it look like when your sales team wins?
Some sample sales performance measurements include:
- Conversion rates
- Actual sales vs. forecasted sales
- Revenue-to-cost-of-sales ratio
5. Provide Consistent Training and Feedback.
New hires and long-standing employees need to know that they are on the right path with their sales processes. Make sure to provide them with feedback often so they know what they do well and what they can improve on.
This helps you to mold them according to your organization’s way of doing things, and it makes your standards and expectations clear.
If you want a successful sales team, you will have to develop and implement a killer training program that teaches your team how to win. Once they know the path you want them to follow, their success is nearly guaranteed.
Offer them various methods of training including online training resources, in-person group training, and one-on-one training.
6. Create and Maintain a Healthy Sales Culture.
Find a way to create a healthy sales culture that includes more than praise for meeting quotas. Sales is about closing deals, but it is also about creating relationships with customers that are sustainable enough to promote brand loyalty.
Try to cultivate a sense of caring in your sales team rather than cut-throat competition. A successful sales team cares about their own goals, assisting prospects, and the goals of the company.
Although it may be difficult to align these things to help sales team members reach their quotas, it does contribute to a better product and a better customer experience. This means your services and products ultimately become more appealing to customers and easier to sell.
There’s no fast train to a sales team’s ultimate success. Their success depends on how much time and money you are willing to invest in them to make your revenue goals a reality.
If you find the proper sales team structure for your organization and you apply key points mentioned in this article to build your sales team, you will be well on your way to having an effective and efficient sales team.