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Sales Team Structure: Organizing Your Team to Scale Quickly

Maintaining growth velocity while still achieving your ambitious business targets is an intimidating challenge. Without the right processes in place, it’s impossible.

You need a solid sales organization structure if you want to continue scaling your efforts, or the cracks will soon begin to appear – threatening not only your growth, but your bottom line and profitability too.

However, it’s not uncommon for sales leaders to prioritize short-term tactics and quick fixes while putting longer-term business needs on the back burner. Sales professionals constantly have to meet the immediate needs of customers and hit sales quotas.

Every fast-growing business will suffer the growing pains that come with expansion and business development at one point or another. Too many sales teams make the mistake that hiring yet another rep will soothe these growing pains and magically improve sales operations. However, without a considered sales team structure and a clear sales process, that extra sales team member will prove to be more of a hindrance than a help.

That’s why you need to get strategic about scaling your sales department.

Fast-growing sales teams have three main areas that they need to address when it comes to optimizing their sales department structure:

  1. Onboarding and process adoption

  2. A simple and effective sales process

  3. Structuring your team to facilitate growth

Table of contents


Build an onboarding plan to ramp new hires faster than ever

“Employee orientation centers around and exists to help the individual employee, but it is the company that ultimately reaps the benefits.” Michael Watkins - Professor, International Institute for Management Development

A strong induction and onboarding process will help you set clear expectations for every new team member from the offset. Good habits and a consistent, high-quality approach should be established from day one with a uniform training program.

If you don’t invest in a comprehensive training program for new reps, you’ll never get the most out of them – not to mention a clear sales organization structure. You’ll find yourself caught in an ongoing cycle of refining goals and revising forecasts to account for slow progress.

A simple, easy-to-learn CRM will help you onboard new sales development reps fast. Even with the most carefully streamlined processes and enablement in place, clunky and complex tools will be met with resistance. New hires need a tool they can get the hang of in hours, not weeks or months.

A solid induction process and intuitive sales tools will have your new reps ramping fast and hitting targets at the rate you need to scale quickly.

Download Your Guide to Managing Teams and Scaling Sales

The blueprint you need to find a team of superstars and build a strong foundation for lasting sales success

Setting the right sales goals to boost team morale and motivation

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.” Mark Twain

To sustain success in a scaling business, you need to both trust and inspire your team to reach their goals.

Easier said than done. It’s hard to know exactly what your sales force needs from you to succeed. And it’s even harder when you have multiple sales teams and a complex sales department structure to contend with.

Finding the right level of motivation, incentives and healthy competition that works for all your sales representatives can be a delicate balancing act. Perhaps what works for one team won’t work for another. One team may be driven by competition, another by sales compensation (e.g. competitive salary, commission or rewards) and another by collectively achieving team goals.

As sales managers, it’s important to apply the right amount of pressure to motivate without driving stress and pressure into your reps. But it’s just as important to recognize if and when the competition is becoming demoralizing for your teams.

Pipedrive Professional's Team Goals allows you to assign the right goals at a team level to drive your sales force towards success. The Team Goals feature helps and encourages reps to work together and take collective responsibility for sharing knowledge, supporting each other, and celebrating individual and team success.

For more detailed advice to help you keep your team strong and focused, read “Chapter 4: Motivation and Morale” from our in-depth guide to managing multiple sales teams.

Team Goals also allows sales managers to easily track how the team is progressing towards their goals. The visual overview allows you to compare individual and team performances to spotlight (and celebrate) strengths and identify the reps who are experiencing setbacks or loss of productivity.

This visibility means that when obstacles arise, and they inevitably will, you can have a proactive plan in place to change the course of action to overcome them.


Set action-oriented goals to focus your team on their process

One way to prevent these setbacks from happening in the first place is to think about employing an action-oriented method to set goals that your team can consistently achieve.

Jason W. Womack, author of “Your Best Just Got Better”, compares setting goals to running a marathon. Running a marathon can be daunting, so it makes sense to break your training into smaller units and work your way towards the big run.

In sales, you can't control the results, but you can control the actions and the inputs of that process. If you turn your goal into a series of manageable tasks, taking action becomes much easier.

Shifting your approach from results-based selling to activity-based selling will help your team to win back control of their sales and keep your reps on track throughout the year.

This approach also involves acknowledging smaller activity-based goals and milestones like upsells or client anniversaries. These goals will encourage your reps to close the right customers for your business and focus their attention on nurturing customer relationships, rather than simply celebrating the biggest deals.

Giving your teams a clear and aligned focus means your reps can invest more time in actually selling. And having the right tools and workflows in place helps you to monitor their progress more effectively and continue optimizing your sales process.

For more on getting goals right, read “Chapter 3: Setting goals and finding focus” of our in-depth guide to managing multiple sales teams.


How to structure your sales team to align your reps for success

"Mission defines strategy, and strategy defines structure." Peter Drucker

The right sales force structure boils down to what works best for your business and your salespeople. You may not get it right straight away, but it’s worth going through a little trial and error if it means your company can scale faster in the long run.

As your sales team grows, you may find that having reps with a general all-round focus is impacting your results. This is not uncommon. A team of ‘generalists’ quickly becomes inefficient in a scaling business. Inconsistencies creep in and reps begin to compete over job title, prospects, leads and deals. You need to assign specialized roles to refine your processes and allow your reps to master and own their niche.

You could consider structuring your teams by product, market or industry. These pod models allow your teams to refine their approach with a specific focus and become genuine experts, especially as you release new products and expand into new markets.

Many sales managers find success by assigning teams to each stage of the sales lifecycle. This approach to sales team management is called the Assembly Line Model. Depending on the size of your team, this could be the most effective solution to facilitate fast, sustainable growth for your business.

The assembly line stages often include:

  1. The lead generation team. The Hunters. Responsible for finding leads and gathering the relevant data to pre-qualify them.

  2. The sales development team (SDRs). The Nurturers. Responsible for qualifying leads. This usually involves reaching out to the prospect and asking the right questions to determine if they fit the desired customer profile.

  3. Account executives. The Closers. Account execs are all guns blazing to close deals. They deal with product demos, objection handling, and any actions necessary to nurture the prospect and close the deal.

  4. The customer success (Account Managers) team. The Farmers. This team steps in when the deal has been closed and focuses on extending the lifetime of the customer, reducing churn and securing upsells.

When each step of the sales cycle has a dedicated team it makes it easier to streamline processes and hold each team accountable for the results they’re responsible for. It also reduces the intricacies of your sales cycle, making it easier to identify and resolve hurdles early on.

While the assembly line model works well in many instances, it also has a few downsides, including:

  • If not planned carefully, your teams can experience friction during handoffs

  • It's likely too complex for startups and small businesses with only one or two salespersons

  • It can slow down sales performance if communication and alignment issues arise

Smaller businesses can start with the island model instead, where every sales rep is responsible for every step of the process. However, this sales model does not scale well as you grow, so make sure to have a transition plan in place before you bring on a steady stream of new customers.

The best sales organizational structure for your team is one that establishes a repeatable and reliable sales process that allows you to scale quickly.


Don’t let your sales process stand in the way of your results

You don’t want your fast growth to start impacting your stellar sales results. Building a concrete sales department structure that will allow your sales teams to grow and multiply is essential to keeping up momentum. This involves a simplified and repeatable sales process, action-oriented team goals and a solid team structure. It also involves finding the right CRM.

Our Professional plan should help you to achieve your goals with more pace and vigor than ever, so you can maintain the growth velocity you need, all the while motivating your teams to strive for greatness and drive sales success.

Download Your Guide to Managing Teams and Scaling Sales

The blueprint you need to find a team of superstars and build a strong foundation for lasting sales success

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