Sales organizational structures for success: models, tips and best practices (2023)

Sales success does not arise in a vacuum. Behind every bestseller is a carefully organized sales organization that enables the units to perform at their best.

When you proactively think about how and why your sales organization is set up a certain way, you not only ensure that you are making strategic hiring decisions, but also enable the development of your sales force.

To help you build a great sales team from the ground up, we cover everything you need to know about sales organization structure, including:

  • How is the sales organization structured?
  • What does the sales department do?
  • What types of sales organizations are there?
  • How do you build a sales team?
  • What is a sales support team?
  • What do sales support teams do?
  • How do you organize your sales support team?
  • Best practices for building strong sales teams

How is the sales organization structured?

The structure of the sales organization means the division of the sales team into specialized groups. How you organize your sales team depends on the regions you serve, the number of products and services you offer, the size of your sales team, and the size and industry of your customers.

The structure of the sales organization is important because it prepares the sales force for success. After all, you wouldn't put a new hire at the top of your company ledger; Similarly, a representative with extensive healthcare experience may find it difficult to sell in the technology sector. By thoughtfully designing your sales organization, you can capitalize on individual opportunities and experiences while ensuring the right salespeople are targeting the right customers.

What does the sales department do?

Your sales organization is responsible for generating revenue for your business by convincing buyers to buy your product or service. For merchants to close deals effectively, they must focus on sales-critical activities. However, most salespeople will tell you that they often outsource activities that are better suited to sales operations or sales support functions.

This is often due to constraints such as budget or misunderstandings about the seller's role. However, if you work with a given goal in mind, you should be able to easily separate the core business of the sales team from other supporting functions such as B. to distinguishsales activitiesLubenables the sale.

Here is a quick overview of the differences between these roles:

  • It interacts with buyers to close deals and generate revenue
  • Handles administrative tasks such as expense reports and CRM data entry
  • Participates in outreach and training to develop skills
  • Manages the day-to-day operations of the sales organization, such as B. Forecasts and tool management
  • Develops and analyzes the sales strategy
  • Tracks and reviews sales performance metrics
  • It prepares sales reps to engage customers through training and onboarding activities
  • Manages daily communication with sales and other teams entering the market
  • Manages the organization and strategy for sales content

As this table shows, sales teams need to be supported by roles like sales operations and sales enablement to do their jobs effectively. However, they cannot be required to carry out these tasks alone. Ensure the success of your sales team by carefully defining their roles and responsibilities within your go-to-market team—and invest as needed in the support capabilities they need to grow.

What types of sales organizations are there?

There are three main models for sales teams: conveyor, pod, and island. Each structure has its advantages and limitations.

assembly line

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In the assembly line model, also known as the Hunter Farmer model, sales teams are organized by each person's position. The name derives from the similarities between sales flows under this model and production assembly lines: in both cases, specialized employees perform a specific task - and in sales, the task is to guide buyers through a specific aspect of the customer journey.

Typically, account or business development reps generate pipelines or nurture marketing-qualified leads. These leads are ultimately routed to the account manager who then closes the sale. After the contract is signed, customers are handed over to a Customer Success Manager or Account Manager who nurtures the relationship throughout the customer lifecycle.

  • Maximizes operational efficiency through specialization
  • It deepens the agents' knowledge within specific sales movements
  • Quickly guides customers through the sales process
  • This creates the risk of silos and misunderstandings in teams
  • Risk of poor customer service due to multiple referrals
  • There are additional costs due to the specialization of the tasks


Sales organizational structures for success: models, tips and best practices (2)

In the island model, every provider is a generalist: a single representative takes care of a single customer from research to implementation. This means that the rep generates, qualifies and closes leads themselves. While this method gives salespeople a high degree of autonomy in building and developing customer relationships, it also puts a lot of pressure on performance. For some companies, this is a plus as it creates a highly competitive sales culture.

Because of its simplicity and emphasis on individual success, it's often used by companies with smaller sales teams looking to achieve higher productivity per customer. employees, or where individual customer relationships are valued, e.g

  • It creates an individualistic, competitive culture
  • Improves the customer-seller relationship
  • Maximizes single rep performance
  • It describes the challenges of managing multiple accounts at different stages of the customer lifecycle
  • For him, individual success takes precedence over cooperation
  • Doesn't fit the scale


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This model combines elements of both the island models and the assembly line model. Similar to the island method, a single capsule works with the customer from the moment of customer acquisition to the implementation of the solution. But like an assembly line, each capsule has representatives who specialize in a specific aspect of the customer journey, including an account or business development representative, an account director, and an account manager.

The pod model is preferred by larger companies that want an easy way to segment their sales team. That's because management can easily assign (and reassign) pods to specific product lines, regions, industries, etc., as needed. Pods can also be used for account-based selling as a single pod can successfully target a target account.

  • Reduces silos between roles and functions
  • Enables smoother lead generation with improved collaboration
  • Enables management to make agile changes in the sales team
  • It inhibits the motivation of the individual
  • Allows weak players to hide behind successful teammates
  • It highlights any friction between individuals in the same group

Additional model segmentation

You can further segment your sales teams based on additional factors such as:

  • geography/territory
  • Offer of products/services
  • customer size
  • customer segmentation

One or more of these segmentations can be combined with any of the three models discussed previously. For example, an organization using an assembly line model can replicate this structure for each geographic area that it serves. Alternatively, an organization using the pod model can allocate a pod to each of its product lines.

Sales organizational structures for success: models, tips and best practices (4)

Keep in mind that as your business grows, further segmentation will be necessary to ensure salespeople develop the specialized skills they need to serve specific markets or target specific customers.

How do you build a sales team?

Finding the right structure for your sales team depends on many factors. First, think about the following:

  • Your budget:With a larger budget, you can invest in a larger, more specialized distribution model, such as a capsule or assembly line model. Smaller companies may find that the island method works to maximize production per year.
  • Their customers:Where your customers are located, what products they buy most, and their size can not only determine your sales model, but also the level of segmentation you need to use to be successful.
  • Their culture:Each distribution model has its own unique culture; Consider whether a collaborative team structure better aligns with your company's values, or whether you prefer something more competitive.

Be aware that what works for one business may not be right for your business. The key is finding the right segmentation model and structure for your business—and remember, as your sales team grows, you may need to adopt a different model.

Finally, it's important to remember that your sales team doesn't exist in a vacuum. Your sales structure is also influenced by supporting functions such as sales enablement and sales operations and vice versa. Consider how you want these key organizations to function within your chosen sales model—and how you'll structure them to ensure they're equally effective.

What is the Sales Support Team?

Sales enablement is designed to make sales teams more effective by providing sales reps with the training, guidance, and content they need to succeed.

This has become increasingly necessary as modern sales cycles are more complex and buyers are more informed. Previously, the buyer had to rely on the seller to educate them about the product offering; Today's modern buyers engage in conversations with sellers after doing extensive research themselves. In this new world, customers expect sales reps to provide deep insight and guidance they can't get anywhere else. This shift shifted the salesperson's role from "teacher" to "trusted advisor."

Successful companies are now investing in sales capabilities to ensure their sales teams are prepared to enhance every customer conversation and fully meet buyer expectations.

What do sales support teams do?

The sales enablement organization will fulfill its mission of increasing sales effectiveness by focusing on key impact areas:

  • training and implementation
  • content and tips
  • analysis and intelligence

training and implementationensures sales reps know what to know, say, show and do in every conversation with a customer. This deep, ongoing learning begins the day a rep joins the company—and with the support ofsales platform) should continue to be part of their daily workflow. Sales enablement teams achieve this by onboarding new hires, managing coaching and training, and integrating microlearning into their sales enablement platform.

content and tipsrefers to the process of creating, managing and distributing sales content. Sales content is critical to educating buyers and closing deals, but strategic investment in managing and delivering it has historically been low. Sharing professionals can maximize the impact of sales resources by first making them visible and second by strategically placing keywords next to content.

analysis and intelligenceis the basis for optimizing the success of the sales team. An in-depth analysis and business analysis of how content is being consumed, whether training is being used, or whether an effective sales promotion is being conducted enables sales teams to make strategic decisions to leverage their strengths and overcome weaknesses. By tracking and monitoring this data, support specialists play an important role in the continuous improvement of their sales organization.

How to organize your sales support team

As more companies implement sales support solutions, the ideal structure for building a support team has emerged. Here are the key roles you need to make your implementation team successful and why.

Chief Enablement/Revenue Officer

Your Director of Support is responsible for leading the sales support team. Sometimes this role is also filled by the Chief Revenue Officer, who not only enables sales but also leads sales, sales operations and other go-to-market teams. This role is important as management commitment is critical to sales success. Without a dedicated leader committed to your cause, it will be difficult to justify investments to support sales or successfully launch programs. Look for someone with extensive work experience who is skilled at leading strategic teams and communicating with other leaders.

Vice President of Sales Department

The Vice President of Sales Support is responsible for ensuring that the sales support strategy aligns with other go-to-market initiatives. In smaller companies, this person may also serve as the enablement director, communicating the enablement strategy to other leadership teams. When filling this position, place special emphasis on communication skills and strategic thinking.

Director of Sales Activation

This role manages your sales support strategy and oversees the daily operations of your sales support team. You will also act as a bridge between sales and marketing, working closely with product marketing and field sales managers to ensure effective support activities. This role is best suited for someone with experience leading successful sales teams.

Sales Enablement Program Manager

Your Sales Support Program Manager is responsible for establishing and executing strategic sales support activities. Program managers can be generalists or segmented to work with specific teams (e.g. account development), budget permitting. You may also consider hiring a program manager specifically for implementation and training, as these activities take time. You are looking for someone with sales experience for this role.

Sales Services Specialist/Coordinator

Sales Support Specialists manage specific elements of your sales support program such as: For example, creating sales leads, managing the day-to-day maintenance of the sales support platform, or collaborating with the marketing department to create sales content. This is an entry-level position best filled by graduates or those with similar sales experience.

Best practices for building strong sales teams

Now that you fully understand how to organize a sales team and what the key elements to success are, let's take a look at how to start building a team.

Invest in the organization

Before you actually sell anything, it is imperative that you do some preliminary work to think about how you want your sales team to be organized. Otherwise, you risk further reorganization that can lead to confusion, wasted time, and a poor customer experience.

First, take a look at your product: this will give you an idea of ​​the sales process and therefore the most suitable model for delivery. For example, industries like real estate and finance tend to rely heavily on supplier-customer relationships, so a multi-message model is not appropriate for building lasting partnerships.

This foresight ensures that whatever distribution model and segmentation you choose, you are entering a market that is organized and ready to serve customers.

Invest in simplicity

With so many ways to segment teams, it can be tempting to overcomplicate the structure of your sales organization. However, it is important to focus on the current state of the sales team. How can your structure best accommodate today's approach?

While scalability is important, it should not outweigh current needs. If you have a small number of salespeople and a limited budget, investing in an assembly line model can actually hurt sales team performance and stunt growth. Additionally, the simple structure with little segmentation gives you more flexibility to make changes as your business grows.

Finding ways to simplify the structure of your sales organization ensures that already complicated sales processes don't become more complicated.

Invest in your employees

Investing in people is a surefire way to ensure salespeople grow according to their role. As your sales organization evolves (and inevitably reorganizes), salespeople will likely assume increasingly specialized roles that require unique skills.

To prepare your salespeople, develop a “skills roadmap” that outlines how you think your salespeople are evolving and what core competencies they need to be successful. For example, if you're growing rapidly, try monthly training sessions on new markets and upcoming products. Once established, your sales reps can benefit from work-based learning that will help them grow as individuals.

A significant investment in training your sales team is critical to give them the tactical know-how they need to grow no matter how sales structures change.

Invest in opportunities

Activating sales will be an important element in maximizing the above investments. A strategic approach ensures your salespeople have the tools and skills they need to meet any challenges that arise.

As you begin your successful sales journey, make sure you provide your support team with the right sales enablement platform. Look for a provider that offers a top-notch seller experience, efficient content management, and in-depth analytics. These features will lift your spirits and won't hamper your sales efforts.

Don't hesitate to invest in sales support - the sooner you start supporting your teams, the better you can grow your business.

Invest in your culture

It's hard to sell. From frustrating customer inquiries to frequent rejection, your sales team works tirelessly to make your business a success, often without thanks. That's why a sales culture is so important – it builds morale and enables employees to do their best work.

You can ensure your sales culture remains competitive and not homicidal by embedding the values ​​of compassion, support, and open communication into your company's guiding principles. Also, make sure your managers, especially those on the sales team, live these vibes every day.

This way, you ensure that your sales reps feel part of a larger team even if they are separated by geography, pods, or something else entirely.

Organize your sales team for success

With the right sales structure and segmentation, your teams have what they need to not only push boundaries, but crush the competition.

Start your journey to sales success withlatest SiriusDecisions researchabout winning in our new virtual sales environment.

Team Highspot

The Highspot team works to develop and promote the Highspot sales enablement platform, which gives businesses a powerful sales advantage to have more relevant conversations with buyers and meet their sales goals. With AI search, analytics, contextual training, targeted selling, and 50+ integrations, Highspot delivers an enterprise-ready selling experience with a modern style that sales reps and marketers love.

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