Types of Sales Organizational Structures (And How To Use Them)

Just as in a traditional manufacturing assembly line, the strategy is to move through the sales cycle from lead generation and nurturing to close by passing off tasks to a different sales member at each stage. In other words, one person might focus on identifying leads and another on nurturing or closing them.

Sales organization structure refers to the segmentation of your sales team into specialized groups. How you organize your sales team will be determined by 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.
  • Functional Structure.
  • Geographic Structure.
  • Market-Based Structure.
  • Product Sales Force Structure.

7 sales organization models for your organizational structure

Types of sales team structures

Choosing the right type of structure for your sales team will depend on your organizations size, needs and sales positions. Here are the three most common types of sales structures in use today:

Assembly line model

The assembly line model, also referred to as the “hunter-farmer model,” is one of the most common sales structures among small and midsize businesses. Specific members of the team perform specific tasks to move a sale through a predictable assembly line-like path. Business development representatives generate leads and hand them off to account executives to complete the sale. After the sale is closed, the account executive hands the account over to an account manager to maintain and grow those customer relationships to build long-term clients.

This model’s benefits include:

Pod method

The pod structure, a modernization of the assembly line method, is often used by larger companies. Different team members still curate leads, pitch products, sign deals and maintain client relationships. What differentiates this model is that instead of acting as one team, they work in pods—or smaller units—targeting specific types of clients.

Effectively using a pod structure involves a considerable amount of teamwork. For this reason, sales managers must consider how each individual works with the other members in the pod when adding someone to the team.

Here are three examples of how companies organize pod structures:

This model’s benefits include:

Island model

The island sales structure is very straightforward. A sales manager or executive leads a team of sales representatives. Each sales representative is an island—they work independently, completing all stages of a sale on their own. Each island generates leads, gives demos to prospective clients, closes deals and manages customer success.

This model works well in industries that thrive on independence and competition. If your product or industry requires teamwork, consider choosing a different model. However, if each salesperson can effectively handle all aspects of a sale, the island model may work well for your team.

This model’s benefits include:

What is a sales organizational structure?

In general, a sales organizational structure refers to how a company or department organizes and prioritizes its workflow. For sales teams, team structure is important because it is likely to affect productivity and efficiency as well as workplace culture and climate. It can help set them up for sales success, show them who they report to and who they should go to if they need assistance.

How to choose the best model for your team

Here are five steps to help you make the best choice for your team:

Roles within a sales team

As you consider the right model for your sales team, you may come across different titles for different members of your sales department. Here is a list of sales-related positions and typical duties. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on each national average salary link.

Primary duties: Sales specialists support sales by developing proposals and giving demos. They explain the details of the product offered and answer in-depth questions for clients. This role does not close deals.

Primary duties: Sales development representatives are inside sales reps who research and reach out to prospective clients to build relationships and find leads. They make cold calls or contact warm leads to create a contact list for sales representatives to use.

Primary duties: A sales representative primarily pitches products or services to prospective clients. They assess needs and typically relay those needs to an account executive. In certain situations, a sales representative may also close deals and manage existing client relationships.

Primary duties: A sales trainer prepares sales representatives with company- and industry-specific knowledge. They equip their team members with skills to engage with clients and close deals.

Primary duties: Customer success managers oversee ongoing revenue and ensure the satisfaction of existing customers. They are responsible for maintaining professional relationships with customers and offering additional products, product upgrades and renewals to clients.

Primary duties: A senior account executive works with clients and all members of a sales team. They are primarily responsible for closing deals. They may also manage existing client relationships if the organizational structure requires it.

Primary duties: A senior sales manager is the leader among sales representatives. They offer guidance and help focus their team by prioritizing deals and tracking performance.

FAQ

What are the 4 types of organizational structures?

The four types of organizational structures are functional, divisional, flatarchy, and matrix structures.

How do you organize a sales department?

7 types of organizational structures (+ org charts for implementation)
  • Hierarchical org structure.
  • Functional org structure.
  • Horizontal or flat org structure.
  • Divisional org structures (market-based, product-based, geographic)
  • Matrix org structure.
  • Team-based org structure.
  • Network org structure.

What is the organizational structure in sales and distribution?

Set up a product-based sales structure by appointing or recruiting sales representatives with good product and technical knowledge. You can also organize your sales force to specialize in different market sectors. Analyze your customer base and highlight any sectors that represent a large share of your total sales.

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