Structuring Sales Teams

Goals

To understand best practices for building a sales team to enhance both customer experience and customer retention.

Early Findings

Sales Team Models

LucidChart and Spotio both outline three sales team models, explaining the strengths and weaknesses of each: The assembly line, the island, and the pod.
  • The Assembly Line model includes a lead generation team, a sales development team, an account executive team, and a customer success team. This model may be best suited for startups or smaller companies by allowing team members to specialize in certain parts of the process. However, it limits the customer ownership that happens with a dedicated sales representative.
  • The Island model is so named because each sales representative is responsible for all tasks involved in the sales cycle. This model is best suited to companies where the founder remains the primary salesperson. It promotes a relationship between the customer and sales rep, but it may also promote customers church if the sales team turnover is high.
  • The Pod model involves small groups of sales representatives, melding concepts from both the assembly line and island approaches. It works well for larger organizations. This model allows for better communications and transitions, but it decreases specialization.
  • Spotio also notes that sales teams can be centralized, with team members all in one place, or decentralized, with team members spread out over various locations.
  • Decentralized teams expand a company's reach and improve customer service, while centralized teams often involve the primary decision maker, often the owner, and reduces ambiguity.
  • An article at Forbes outlines seven ways to optimize a sales teams, including organizing the team around the customers, rather than business functions or products, because it builds intimacy.
  • The Forbes article also advocates for hiring both generalists, who "develop personalized customer relationships," and specialists, who provide expertise.
  • It also suggests hiring agile people who can adapt to changing needs, as well as caring managers who know how to offer constructive criticism.
As Concordia Plan Services is an insurance company, we looked into ideal sales team structures in the insurance industry.
  • An article at Agent Pipeline suggests that the Pod model is best for insurance companies," with account executives, solution specialists, customer success representatives, and technical salespeople all working together on a set of accounts."
  • It also suggests that hybrid supervisors, those who act as both front-line agents while taking on some supervisory roles, are a good option for insurance companies.
  • Design the sales team with an eye toward the beneficiaries' needs.

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