The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

The Expert's Guide to a Successful Sales Organization Structure

Experts Guide to Sales Structure

Sales organizations have evolved over the years, and the old hierarchical structure just won’t do anymore.

A successful sales organization structure allows you to maximize your profit. This article will help you get started.

How to Know if You Have a Structure Problem

How your sales organization is set up can affect everything from how regularly and how reliably you receive leads to the conversion rate on every sales interaction.

The key is understanding exactly how sales organizations typically work and then pinpointing any problematic areas. If you stick with a sales organization for too long without changing the fundamental way they operate it will eventually result in sales stagnation and customer dissatisfaction.

Effective sales organizations build structures that support the efficient operation of the company providing many benefits. Sales organizations must maintain a positive working relationship with their top customers, which generally results in better deals for both parties leading to client retention. Additionally, hierarchical organizations allow for better monitoring of employee effectiveness, which in turn leads to improvements in employee morale and productivity.

However, what we see are managers who focus on managing people and the overall processes that employees follow, and they're failing.

Here's how to fix it when thinking about how to structure your sales organization, think about separating the responsibility of managing clients and generating leads Who is responsible for lead generation?

Do You Have a People Problem or The Wrong Sales Structure?

A Solid Management Framework Leads to Growth

To be successful, your sales organization needs to be realistic—and scalable.

All too often organizations are created with the hope that some innovative CEO will figure it out, but the reality is the management of different departments by their respective managers is just as important. Take some time to really decide what you want your sales organizational structure to look like.

  • Who is going to take the lead?
  • How will each member of the team be helped toward building their strengths and improving their weaknesses?

Organizing a promising start-up is difficult, but not impossible. However, once you have a solid framework in place it becomes much easier to shape an organization that will grow.

4 Tips When Planning Sales Structure

Restructuring is a scary proposition, but if you want to be successful with your team, you have to change your sales structure. When you're thinking about restructuring, make sure you do the following four things first.

1. Identify Needs

Once you identify what's most important and where your team is struggling, then determine how you can help them and set them up for the job that you need them to do. Do you want your team to make more sales? Gain more leads? Once you identify those goals, figure out what they need to do and give them the tools to help accomplish that goal.

Is Your Current Sales Structure Designed For The Results You Want?

2. Alignment

It's important to create alignment so that all of the sales processes are accounted for. By creating roles and outlining duties, you're able to move prospects effectively through the sales pipeline.

3. Management Structure

When beginning a new sales process consider having a new manager to oversee it. If you're installing a lead generation system, it's important to designate an employee to oversee the implementation. If you're in the middle of implementing a new process with your sales team, it's also important to identify someone who will be responsible for managing.

4. Give it Time

No matter what organization or sales team you're in, there will always be challenges along the way. One of the most difficult is time: It takes time to see results. Any structural change takes time. So have patience and give it time.

Why Old Sales Models Don't Work Anymore

Sales departments often rely on old sales structures and proven tactics because they're comfortable with their current sales and revenue level.

These tactics are not a guarantee for future success and can bring many challenges, especially when the only constant is change. Traditionally, salespeople have been defined as those who are experts at prospecting, selling, and collecting.

But today’s salespeople also need to be engaged in digital prospecting and gathering digital assets. Sales teams need to adapt to these changes in the modern digital landscape. 

Top Challenges Media Sales Departments Face

Lead Generation

Every sales campaign depends on some type of lead generation.

If you want to achieve consistent growth, you need to begin by having a steady stream of leads entering your sales funnel. Before the age of the internet, this was typically done through trade shows where cards were filled out with a person's contact information and then handed to the sales team.

Today though, there are many more methods of lead generation, including various forms of digital marketing and this alone can be a full-time task. 

When a company faces underperforming sales teams, the first thing to be cut is reaching out to potential customers. This puts more pressure on salespeople who are already struggling to close deals.

Lead Generation Management

Lead generation stays successful if managed properly. When you waste time with the wrong lead generation strategy, you will lose potential leads.

In the digital world, this can be more than just an inconvenience. It's damaging to your business. The more time you waste on conversion attempts or poor online marketing, the fewer customers you will attract and the greater your odds of failure.

The secret to a successful sales process is to use a dedicated and properly managed lead generation team to generate leads. This is the first and perhaps most important part of managing the sales pipeline.

Is Lead Generation a Top Business Objective?

Breaking the Cycle Down Into 3 Stages

The IMPACT Sales Leadership System divides the sales cycle into three stages:

Lead Generation — A sales team or an inbound marketing agency that will help you identify new prospects, set appointments, and generate inbound leads.

Selling Solutions— Account Executives are those who nurture leads created in other departments and turn them into direct sales. This can include needs analysis meetings, creating proposals, presenting, and closing the sales.

Serving Clients — This group or department exists to fulfill contracts, agreements, or services the needs of a current client.

Client Retention Management

Many companies get distracted with attracting new customers and forget about taking care of their existing ones.

Here's a secret marketing activities for the sake of attracting new customers will cost you 5xs more than marketing activities that focus on making your existing customers happy.

An effective sales organization makes the customer a key part of its business. It keeps them coming back for more. Effective sales leaders develop a relationship with each client that is lifelong. The ultimate goal of a successful sales organization is for every client to achieve results that justify their investment, a dedicated manager for client retention can help to achieve this.

The most successful sales consulting firms rely on these four factors to drive client retention.

1. Providing customers with up-to-date sales training resources  that help improve sales performance is a must-have. The tricky part is finding the time to develop content. Some firms have the resources to do it on their own, while others outsource.

2. Establish a consistent common language an example of this is the use of an account list management system that classifies accounts by spending level and assigns employees to specific levels.

3. Discuss best practices and use real-world examples it's always a good idea to explain proven practices and share success stories to motivate your team.

4. Combine training with selling for example, your sales training might teach staff about creating proposals. This is a concept that they should apply to real-life at the company. You could set an initiative to have them create several proposals to customers and track which ones are successful.

Realign Your Priorities With an Account List Management Strategy

An Incentivized Goal-Based Structure

The best sales process is one in which employees are rewarded for generating leads and closing deals.

Each member should have a set of goals and incentives, which they can accomplish by generating leads and closing deals. It should reward leadership, teamwork, and decision-making. The structure should reward people for diving into tasks right away and helping others.

Effective communication helps employees understand the value of each new lead they generate, and they continually update each other as necessary to maintain the momentum of their sales efforts. Organizations that successfully implement an incentivized goal-based structure have a significant advantage over their competitors. They aren’t spending time trying to recruit salespeople; they are spending time getting deals done. 

Challenges When Changing Sales Structures

Some companies have been making adjustments to their organized sales structures for years based on research that shows these changes deliver measurable benefits in how much revenue and how many sales a company makes over time.

In other words, it's not a matter of if you should change your sales structure but rather of how big of a change you should make. One of the biggest challenges when changing sales structures is trying to figure out where the change will come from and whether it will make you more effective as an organization while also decreasing costs and increasing overall revenue.

Getting the Help You Need: Sales Structure Solutions

Sales teams are vital to any business. If they’re not organized, it’s a lot harder for everyone to work together and get the job done. The better organized they are, the more revenue they will bring in. If you're having trouble closing business, try changing your company's sales structure.

Changing your sales structure is a long-term investment in the future of your business. The IMPACT Process Pyramid is our model for helping you determine if you have a sales organization problem, how to solve it, and build a new effective structure.

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Topics: sales structure sales leadership