9 Smart And Effective Ways To Structure Your Sales Team

Your business is only as good as its people—and your salespeople are a particularly important part of your business development efforts. That being said, a team’s efficiency and productivity isn’t only improved by the people you hire; it also matters how you choose to structure that team.

As a business owner, it’s your job to create a balanced team and distribute responsibilities appropriately. To help, we asked Forbes Business Development Council members to share what method they use to organize and structure an effective sales group. Their best answers are below.

Forbes Business Development Council experts give their best advice for building a balanced and effective sales team.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Specialization

Organize your sales team by specialization to highlight your employees’ talents and create an efficient unit. Whether you divide your group based on skills in prospecting, technical knowledge or negotiation, you’ll get the right people in the right roles to create a balanced team. Your employees are more likely to enjoy their work if they’re contributing to increasing sales numbers. – Christian Valiulis, Automatic Payroll System

2. ‘Setters’ And ‘Spikers’

I encourage having a strong analytical person on every sales team who can speak to the executive with a strong CFO background, while also having a strong charismatic sales person who can speak to the enthusiastic or emotional CEO. The contrast of talents will close more deals. At times, one is the setter while the other spikes or visa versa. It is teamwork at its best. – Don Markland, MoneySolver

3. Hybrid Supervisors

We have implemented a hybrid supervisor role that allows for a front-line salesperson to take on supervisory responsibilities, but also continue individual production with that role. The hybrid allows for a career path for individual contributors who also want to dip their toes into management, and also disperses managerial work and creates a talent pipeline for future leadership roles. – Jen Tadin, Gallagher

4. Pods

I’ve found that the most effective sales teams are structured in “pods” or “swarms,” with account executives, solution specialists, customer success representatives and technical salespeople all working together on a set of accounts. With this structure, teams have shared responsibility for their overall success, and learn to work effectively with the strengths and challenges of each team member. – Katie Tierney, Symphony SUMMIT

5. An Outside-In Client-First Structure

Too many companies build sales teams with an eye toward what works internally, not what works for clients. Think about your product or service from a prospect’s perspective: What barriers do clients face when getting buy-in? What do they need from you? What’s their buying process? To meet their needs, think from the outside in and structure your department in a way that makes sense externally. – George Donovan, Allego

6. Carefully-Chosen Managers

It seems like a normal progression for your top salesperson to become sales manager when the opportunity arises. A word of caution—just because someone can sell, does not mean they can manage people. This can create a double tragedy in your organization, as you will have the wrong person managing your sales team and you will lose the production of your strongest performer. – Tyler Harris, Consolidated Assurance, LLC

7. Utility Players Plus Technical Experts

In the ever-evolving technology industry, agile and adaptive players are essential to a sales organization’s core. Pair these “utility infielders” with focused technical sales experts, diverse in tenure and role. A team well-rounded in perspective and experience is inherently balanced, and its individuals grow out of the collaboration. – Elissa Livingston, CloudCheckr

8. Diversity Of Experiences

Successful sales teams are comprised of individuals from all walks of life with diverse experiences. Try taking a moment to identify individual strengths and weaknesses prior to assigning responsibilities as opposed to being fixated on the traditional “job duties.” Placing this concept at the forefront of building the team and assigning responsibilities will truly maximize results. – Aven Hauser, Hanszen Laporte, LLP

9. Adaptability

Organizations that build an efficient and effective sales team focus on the people. It’s important to hire the right people for the right positions and empower them to make decisions based on their position within the team. In some cases people will need to be shifted around to ensure the team thrives. Keep your eye on the people and empower them to be the best they can and you will win. – Bobby Marhamat, Stealth Startup

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