When you think of Nascar, your immediate thought goes to the driver by himself in the car doing what he can to win. What you don’t see is the mechanics who built the engine, the world class pit crew in the ear of the driver and assisting at pit stops during the race. Your sales team should be functioning in a similar way. But where do you start? As you’ve learned, a great idea isn’t enough to build a great company. What it takes is a team of talented people.
Now what? Where is the handbook on how to set something up? As a founder or department head, it’s your responsibility to select and build an organizational structure that fits your business and your culture. Below you will find an outline on how to set your team up to truly let them shine.
Part 1: Your Structure
The first thing you need to do is figure out how to staff your sales team. What model of staffing makes sense for your company. A few different factors come into play for this:
- What does your company offer?
- Is it service based or product based?
- How big and where is your market?
- How many actual bodies work at your company?
- Can you afford to hire more team members or is this the team you are moving forward with?
- How large is your industry?
- Do you need to focus specifically on companies
Danger Alert: Picking the wrong model can result in consequences that can cause you to “miss” numbers. Luckily, that means that there are KPI’s that act as red flags so you can adapt your system to meet your goals. In the word of Peter Thiel, a bad plan is better than no plan. This couldn’t be truer than with sales.
(Note: The expectation is you edit your plan not to be bad as you are going along)
- Customer Attribution
- Below Average Win Rates
- Sales Rep Turnover
- Fewer than 2/3 reps make quota
- Loss of market share
- New product launch failures
Option One: The Conveyor Belt
Most companies tend to drift toward the assembly line model, and in most cases, it will work! A lot of the complexity of a sales cycle is reduced because of the focus on one particular part of it and allows you to increase efficiency (especially when onboard / scaling your team). By dividing your cycle into specific and specialized groups, you are making sure you have a dedicated team in each part of your customer’s journey. This is the real power of this model – establishing a reliable/repeatable process for each part of the cycle with various metrics they are responsible for.
The Conveyor Belt Structure
- Part 1 – Lead Generation:
- Responsible for cultivating leads, gathering contact information, and making sure your team is continuously stacked.
- Part 2 – Qualifiers:
- Responsible for reaching out to prospects and “qualify” them by focusing on customer needs, identify the “players,” and identify the actual decision-making process itself
- Part 3 – Closers:
- Responsible for closing the deals. They follow up personally with qualified leads, help create and give demos, manage objections or pushback, take deals and move them forward.
- Part 4 – Account Managers:
- Responsible for the post “closing” relationship with your client or customers. Focused on account management, customer happiness, lifetime value, and upsell of more or higher priced options.
(Image Credit: Close.io)
- Allows for specialization amongst team members and more ownership of roles
- Allows predictability for your business
- Each step of your sales funnel has a dedicated team focused on JUST that specific part of the funnel’s effectiveness and therefore can be held more accountable to specific metrics
- Easier to isolate bottlenecks and fix accordingly
- Difficult to split up parts of funnel into four (4) sections when sales team is smaller (workforce issues)
- Friction between sales teams can be more prevalent and harmful as each has different metrics playing into one overall sales goal
- Specialized roles can lead to disconnect if communication in company is not set in stone
- Specialized roles may result in disconnect from OVERALL business goals of the company
Increases focus on personal metrics or numbers for personal incentivization
Option Two: The 2 Party System
The two (2) party system is a little more “traditional” but sets your team up for a Big win or Big loss. There is very little structure that is needed to dive into this model. This is typically used by smaller teams with 1-2 sales team members. In this structure, each sales team member manages the whole “selling” process by themselves. They take a warm lead passed to them, qualify them, then also convert them. The best example of a traditional sales team using this approach is a real estate agency. The agent will represent a larger real estate agency but will promote their own listings. While they may not be the person finding prospects, they are the person who is handling touch points, running open houses, and closing the deal. This model is best for high transaction sales processes with low complexity, where simplicity is better.
- The Lead Generation Team
- Learns and targets specific markets
- Focus team to go after the right accounts within those markets
- Focuses on how accounts make purchase decisions
- Fills the funnel with REAL sales opportunities
- The Sales Team
- Win MORE deals and BIGGER deals (Faster)
- Channel Optimization
- The Support Team
- Account Management Team
- Design team
- Product Marketing Team
- Not much managerial oversight needed so very friendly to small teams
- Ideal for sales teams that use an agency or third party for lead generation
- Good for simple sales processes with a “call-to-close” model
- Good for companies looking to establish a model, coming from “Cold Call” method
- Creates an aggressive sales environment that is based PURELY on incentivization tied to deals
- You lose control over brand reputation in the market and tie it to individual salespeople
- It is harder to keep track of key sales metrics and benchmarks, making it harder to see where in your funnel is broken
- More Difficult to maintain transparency because your entire process is beholden to the buy-in of ONE salesperson
- Not ideal for startups in non-established markets
Option Three: Pods
Pods are primarily a collection of multiple “conveyor belts.” These are used in more established companies with large sales departments, or companies that are scaling their departments that already use the “conveyor” model (matured start-ups). The pod model is comprised of multiple “pods,” composed of team members that play different roles. For example, each “pod” would have someone who handles leads, someone who handles qualifying, someone who handles closing, and someone who handles acct management. One major thing to understand is that pods trade efficiency for versatility.
Ways To Divide Pods
- Industry Vertical: Organized by particular industry type
- Geographical Based: Split between territories
- Product Specific: Organized by what product the team is selling
- Pods cultivate dedication to the entire customer journey across the whole pod while instilling ownership over one specific piece
- Imparts better communication and less friction on the sales team
- Creates flexibility and agility within the pod
- More accountability from team members for specific assignment
- Harder to incentivize individual performance
- Less opportunity for internal growth and less competition to push each other to excel
- Less specialization on specific roles