The top 3 sales team structures for building a high-performing sales organization

Successful teams don’t happen by accident – they are made, not born. The same principle applies to your sales team, which means that a lot of planning needs to go into its structure.

You might argue that hiring the right sales talent and letting them do their thing would be good enough, but a Harvard Business Review study can prove otherwise:

50% of high-performing sales organizations have well-documented sales processes that are explicitly structured, compared to 28% of underperforming organizations.

Studies aside, take it from the experts at SalesWorks – we’ve been in the business for 25 years (and counting) and have seen first-hand what a well-structured team can achieve. Putting together a solid team structure will do wonders for the scaling of your business – which is ultimately the goal here.

We’ll tell you just how to do that in this article, so read on!

Getting to know the different types of sales structures

Getting to know the different types of sales structures
Image: Pexels

Otherwise known as a sales organization structure, a sales team structure is the segmentation of your sales team into different roles or departments.

There are two ways of looking at it: external and internal operations. It’s important to pin down what your external sales organization is so you can decide on what would work best internally.

External sales organizations

  • Geographical sales structure: Sales teams and reps are divided by territory.
  • Product and service line: Sales reps will be assigned to a particular product or service instead of an all-encompassing role (where they handle multiple products).
  • Industry and vertical structure (or market-based structure): Sales reps are deployed to serve the industry that they specialize in.
  • Account-based selling: This structure is typically utilized for custom onboarding experiences. Individual accounts are served by both the sales and marketing teams to offer tailored solutions.

Internal sales organizations, a.k.a your sales team structure

Nailed down your external sales structure yet? Brilliant, we can now look at the best internal organizational structure for your business!

There are two things to look at here:

  1. How you arrange the workflow and assign tasks to each and every single sales representative within your organization.
  2. Whether your organization relies on a centralized structure (where a single point person makes major decisions for the team) or a decentralized structure (where more people are involved in making decisions and strategies).

Keep in mind that sales teams come in all shapes and sizes and that there is no one-size-fits-all structure or one that is better than another.

Take the time to experiment with the different approaches through trial-and-error, before deciding on which one would suit your organization.

How to determine the best setup for your sales team

Three key factors can help you determine the best setup for your organization and team, namely:

  • Sales capacity: Do you have the right amount of sales capacity to cover all your target markets?
  • Ramp time and attrition: It’s important to hire with ramp, so that attritions won’t disrupt your team.
  • Territories and target markets: The size of your business directly affects the number of sales reps needed to cover your target areas.

The top 3 sales team structures

There are various sales team structures that you can potentially explore and experiment with, but these are the top three (and most recommended ones), complete with their pros and cons for your reference:

  • The Island
    The top 3 sales team structures
    Image: Highspot

    A more traditional and basic structure, this is the model that most sales representatives operate on. Your team will be provided with training, a range of products that they can sell, a commission structure, and perhaps an office.

    Pros: Very little management is needed, suitable for simple sales processes

    Cons: Aggressive sales environment, no control over brand representation (as it depends on the sales representative’s style)

    Perfect for: Companies in established markets with high levels of competition; not recommended for start-ups

  • The Assembly Line
    The Assembly Line
    Image: Highspot

    This is the model responsible for catapulting Ford to success and driving the Industrial Revolution – in other words, it arranges production processes for maximum efficiency.

    The assembly line typically breaks down a sales force by function into four different groups: lead generation team, sales development representatives, account executives, and customer success team.

    Pros: Creates predictability for your business, possibilities of isolating and solving problems, and room for specialization

    Cons: Not great for teams with one or two sales reps, high possibility of customers dropping off through the funnel, and may cause members to feel disconnected from the greater goal

    Perfect for: All kinds of organizations, even startups as it helps to make the sales cycle less complex

  • The Pod
    The Pod
    Image: Highspot

    Similar to The Assembly Line, but a lot of customer-centric, each “pod” comprises team members that play different roles.

    Pros: Focus will be on the customer journey, more agile and flexible, promotes better communication within pods, and minimizes tension

    Cons: Less room for specializations, fewer opportunities for competition and growth

    Perfect for: More mature startups and established companies aggressively looking to expand

Build a strong and solid team structure with SalesWorks

We understand that building an effective sales team structure isn’t a walk in the park, which is why SalesWorks is here to help. Chat with us regarding sales strategies, customer acquisitions, and more, and let’s figure out the ways your business can hit your sales target!

Connect with us, and let us see how we can work together!