How to Structure a Winning Sales Team

A sales team is almost like a uniform mechanism striving for a universally common goal – to sell the company’s product or service. According to real practice, however, it may be quite challenging to adjust efficient cooperation between all the members in such a team.

Let’s discuss how to structure a sales team most properly and efficiently distribute sales team structure roles

Traditional vs Modern Sales Organizational Structure

A common sales department consisted of sales experts exclusively. 

Thankfully, the theory of workflow organization within a team and, in particular, the theory of sales constantly grow and develop so modern sales or marketing department structures have long acquired a bit more advanced format. 

Core Roles Within Sales Teams

Up to date, apart from sales specialists, a fully-formed sales team also includes such positions as an HR manager, sales coach, administrator, SDR (Sales Development Reps), marketing representative, account manager, and client support as well as marketing specialists. Let’s go through each occupation in a bit more detail. 

HR

An HR manager is an employee per department that handles selecting and developing in-house workers. Considering that the primary responsibilities of an HR manager lie in human resource management, this expert is certainly important for adjusting the proper and efficient interaction between the sales team members as well. HR should be able to build systems for growth and efficient performance of other experts. 

Moreover, an HR expert should possess expertise in social psychology and team building, focusing on individual employee opinions in the context of reaching common company goals. Recruitment, personnel performance assessment, personnel training and development, salary system, compensation and benefits, corporate culture and internal communication – that’s a nearly full list of HR responsibilities. 

Sales Trainer

A sales trainer is a specialist that is responsible for boosting the company staff’s and management’s qualification. The main goal here is to teach employees not to simply sell goods but do that faster and overall better than competitors. 

This expert can train both staff newcomers and existing employees. A sales trainer should be able to provide new, more efficient buyer interaction methods for personnel, as well as staff managing techniques for company management. In the long run, these efforts result in boosted profits and individual efficiency of workers. Here’s a small guide on doing the right thing on this position.  

Administrator

Usually, an admin works with many other functional company subdivisions apart from the sales department. Primary admin responsibilities include working with deals, preparing commercial offers, specifications, presentations, translations; analyzing and managing databases of competitors, goods/services, and clients; preparing managers’ performance reports, etc.   

Sales Development Reps (SDR)

SDR is a specialist that focuses on the initial sales funnel stages instead of on closing sales (they are also responsible for cold calls and email newsletter). As such, this expert has to work with an extensive client database, passing ‘warmed up’ clients to less experienced sales for closing deals. 

Note that certain experts consider that this position becomes gradually obsolete. 

Sales Representative

A sales rep is a worker that presents, promotes, and sells a certain group of company products, most frequently to wholesale buyers. They go through sales outlets offering goods, conducting negotiations, making deals, as well as visiting the stores where company products are already on sale to simply check up on the progress. 

The primary responsibilities of a sales rep also include consulting clients in terms of product or services, working with an existing client base, searching for new clients, demonstrating products or services, establishing contracts, and reporting on the work done. See more details here

Account Manager

Occupying a position of an account manager, one gets to work on boosting the loyalty of existing customers. An expert has to be able to eliminate certain customer pains, come up with an individual approach to each client, support the established business relationships, and offer new product or services. 

Customer Service

A customer support specialist is the one to directly interact with clients, answering their requests and helping to solve issues related to the purchase or exploitation of a company product or service. The main goal of this expert is to build long-term relations with clients by providing prompt, competent assistance in figuring out anything related to the company services. 

Marketing

A marketer is an expert responsible for inspecting the buyer preferences and boosting the sales turnover in the company. The overall success and level of sales in terms of a promoted product depends heavily on such specialists as they translate the consumer opinion to the manufacturer. 

A marketing expert should also be able to analyze competitor offers, inspect competitors’ ad projects, as well as consumer opinions considering direct competitors as a whole. With the analytical data thoroughly gathered and analyzed, a professional marketer develops an individual company marketing strategy directed at the utter target audience satisfaction. 

Types of Sales Team Structures

Perhaps, you already have a separate department dedicated to sales. In that case, as your product or service grows in popularity and demand among consumers, the department will have to be gradually expanded. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t simply hire more and more new sales experts. Think through the most proper way to scale carefully. Right now, we can take a look at the three most common sales team structure models.

sales meeting

The Island

This sales team model implies that each team member is responsible for their particular clients and competes not only with other companies but with in-house colleagues as well. This is quite an ‘aggressive’ model as specialists are on their own in handling forming of potential clients’ databases, managing and closing deals. I.e., one, basically, works for oneself while their profits directly depend on the individual performance instead of collective efforts. 

The pros of this model include:

  • autonomous performance of separate team members;
  • multipurposeness of each team member;
  • maximum adaptation to the business with a relatively small number of customers.

The island model cons, in turn, include:

  • issues with managing processes of the sales expert-client interaction;
  • an ability to properly position a brand on the market only with a thorough approach to gathering a sales team;
  • challenging monitoring of the overall efficiency & particular drawbacks in the performance of each employee.

In practice, this model has shown great success in the real estate and highly-expensive equipment commerce where a personalized approach and knowledge of major pain points of particular clients are crucial. 

The Assembly Line

As opposed to the previous one, this model is quite resource-intensive to implement. However, it allows turning sales processes into the production en masse. Particularly, in order to integrate this model, you’ll need to segment your team into several levels, each of which will be responsible for a certain sales funnel stage. The ‘basic package’ of employees for such a team includes lead generation specialists, sales development experts, client support experts, as well as sales managers. 

The pros of this model:

  • sales processes become highly predictable;
  • the in-house staff becomes much easier to scale;
  • issues & disadvantages of the employed sales strategy are easily identifiable;
  • the overall performance of such teams is usually quite high.

The cons of the assembly line model:

  • relatively expensive model implementation;
  • conflicts within a team may impact sales success;
  • certain employees’ performance becomes dependent on other team members (due to the narrow specialization of each worker).

This model is most fruitfully deployed in the business connected to the complex products retail – e.g., different kinds of software or outsourcing services. 

The Pod

The Pod model is a more advanced interpretation of the two previous models. It is a perfect choice for established companies that strive to cover new market segments. In fact, the main goal here is to create smaller groups of narrow-profile specialists, each of whom has to work for the sake of the final result (i.e., the deal closing and client retention) instead of the sole process (which is the Assembly Line’s feat). 

The pros of the Pod team:

  • teams work hand in hand with seldom (as a rule) inner conflicts;
  • team members adapt to the changing sales strategies fast;
  • employee turnover is reduced. 

The cons of this model:

  • forming such a team is quite time-consuming;
  • forming groups in an inefficient manner (i.e., getting more less experienced specialists and fewer experienced members) may result in the extra high workload for certain employees, which, in turn, leads to the professional burnout.

Decentralized vs. Centralized Team Structure

A centralized team structure is based on key decision-making by a single person. Usually, such a sales team organizational structure is employed in smaller companies that don’t have affiliates and main decisions are made by either a sales department head (if there is one) or a company owner. 

If you plan to distribute a product or service intended to cover as wide TA as possible, this type of team organization wouldn’t really be reasonable to employ. Alongside the further scaling of your staff, it will be that much more difficult to pick local managers and redistribute responsibilities between employees.   

sales team structure

Alternatively, decentralized organizational structures imply that key business decisions are made by several responsible persons at once, each of whom handles their dedicated sales funnel stage. In such a way, you provide an ability for locally working groups of sales experts to perform autonomously and establish optimal conditions for the further scaling of the staff. 

Marketing & Sales Team Structure

Now, let’s define the ideal sales team structure you can pick for your particular business or project:

  • Strategic thinkers. A strategic layer of marketing and sales departments, formally, doesn’t cover any particular positions, top management is responsible for it. A company owner is the one to form the major company ideology, goals, and vision. Nonetheless, the participation of marketers in lead generation is always reasonable. In particular, they can be responsible for creating market positioning strategies for a company by defining target markets and forming the so-called roadmap; 

 

 

  • Tacticians. The tactical layer of the same departments handles the promotion of products or services throughout the initially selected target markets. On this layer, databases of potential clients willing to purchase the offer are formed and analyzed. This segment always includes such specialities as Market Analyst (who researches target markets as well as collects and analyzes info that’s crucial for the next operational team level), Product Manager (who analyzes product requirements and forms manufacturing plans), Pricing Expert (a qualified economist or financial expert usually fits the role), and marketing communications expert (who plans ad campaigns, presentations; defines the manner of content in newsletter, and manages public relations);

 

  • Operators. This marketing and sales department layer covers all the efforts directed at establishing deals and passing the sold products on to certain clients. It includes Sales Managers, Business Analysts, as well as Technical Consultants

 

How to Structure a Sales Team

Choosing the most effective sales team structure for your particular case depends more on the complexity of the product/service you distribute and its price than on the scale of your company and the volume of your sales. Obviously, the more complex and expensive a deal with a potential client is, the less responsibility should be assigned to one person and vice versa. 

how to structure a sales team

Tips to Manage & Improve Your Sales Team

And now for a number of universal tips on managing your inside sales team structure so that your overall client approach is optimized and, thus, commercial relationships are improved.

 

  • Recruit passionate employees. An image of a salesperson that is ready to sell goods or services by any means and at any price necessary has long become obsolete. The modern psychology of a ‘straight’ sales expert lies in the full self-realization of all the advantages a client gets from a purchase and definition of their pains during the initial stages of the sales funnel. 

 

  • Boost your employees’ knowledge about the product. There is nothing worse than a sales expert that doesn’t completely know what they’re selling in the first place. Potential buyers can ask loads of questions so your task is to protect yourself as well as your sales from any extent of confusion in the matter.

 

  • Teach your sales to create efficient presentations. Many sales specialists claim that a salesperson that has personal charisma, is goal-oriented, and is able to speak properly can sell practically anything. However, today, when absolutely any existing business niche is sufficiently loaded (if not overloaded) with competitor offers, all that may not be enough. It’s important to be able to present the sales object vividly and efficiently in order to shatter any client’s hesitations whether they need that product or not.  
  • Prioritize honesty of employees. Long-term client relationships are possible to establish only with full transparency and honesty. This means that you have to be transparent in passing any info about the product and be ready to admit some mistakes. 
  • Competency & confidence before persistence. It’s crucial to prioritize all the right values in your team. Thus, excessive persistence of a sales expert isn’t a thing most customers are really satisfied with. Currently, there are countless possibilities to go through product or service reviews online and most people prefer basing their decisions on public opinions rather than on the sales’ loud promises.  
  • Don’t forget about reporting. You should be able to get data on the current level of sales, growth dynamics, and individual employee performance at once. A thorough vision of your in-house activities will help you forecast proper steps towards further development and select the most proper strategy.  
  • Organize regular corporate events. Morale is as crucial for the sales department as it is for all other corporate branches. For instance, newcomers should always be treated carefully and with the most pleasure so that they’re gradually eased into working with a new team. 
  • Don’t neglect the specialized software. Last but not least, a properly organized team always has a ‘pillar’ (some specialized software, like CRM) that helps automate certain workflow aspects and keep all the important data at hand even during intense client inflows. 

 

 

 

Which Team Structure Is Better for Your Business?

In order to make the right decision, you have to understand that your choice will aid you in reaching the following major objectives:

  • maximum sales department performance;
  • adherence to the company’s corporate values.

Another thing that helps is the knowledge of how your competitors’ sales teams are organized. Keep in mind also that the properly organized structure is the one that implies utterly accessible and cost-efficient scaling in terms of your business niche.

Startup Sales Team Structure

In the case of companies that are only starting out on the market, organizing a full-blown startup sales team structure with all the mentioned specialists involved will be pretty challenging and costly. A two or three Sales Manager along with a reliable, scalable CRM that would take up a good share of responsibilities for efficient interaction between the sales department and clients may be more than enough. 

In particular, we’d recommend testing out Nimble CRM and see for yourself that such products can be of precious help for your yet-to-expand project. 

 

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