A sales team is a critical element of the company it represents; a good sales team can be the difference between financial success and failure.
The hierarchy of your sales team is just as important as the people you hire, because the structure keeps everyone both accountable and engaged. A solid sales team requires clear goals and responsibilities for each position.
Different Positions and Roles
While the structure of the sales department will vary from company to company, many roles are recurring in most sales teams. These common roles are representative of a typical sales team structure and are listed in order of rank:
VP of Sales
Not all companies or sales teams have a VP of Sales, but if they do, this title is generally the highest-ranking sales position. The VP usually isn’t responsible for managing sales teams or pursuing sales themselves, unless the company is rather small. In most companies, the VP of Sales sets broader, long-term sales goals and is responsible for projecting and delineating the company’s overall sales strategy.
The VP of sales should have a solid sales background, leadership experience and should feel comfortable reporting to the VP of Marketing and the CEO directly.
The sales manager is the leader and coach of the actual sales team. Sales managers usually report to the VP of Sales if there is one; if not, then they interact directly with the CEO. The sales manager is responsible for overseeing operations, including setting quotas, assigning territories, and training, hiring and firing salespeople. They should give the team members the tools they need to effectively sell and offer guidance when possible.
The sales manager should not be promoted into their position based on numbers alone; when hiring a sales manager, you should consider leadership skills, knowledge of the industry and a deep understanding of the region or demographic being targeted.
This position can also be broken down into a more intricate network of managers depending on size of the company. The sales manager position can be expanded to include a National Sales Manager, a Regional Sales Manager and a District Sales Manager, each overseeing their respective areas and reporting to the manager above them.
The main goal and contribution of the sales manager is to motivate salespeople and get them to produce results, generate more customers and create a profit for the business.
Sales Training Manager
A sales training manager oversees the training and development of the sales team. The sales training manager typically focuses on teaching team members the basic sales skill set, including cold calling, giving presentations, developing pitches and more. A good training manager will also utilize problem-solving skills and their own sales experience to help the team learn how to think on their feet and interact well with clients.
The training manager may consider giving a Sales Training Assessment to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the team to develop the correct training program for specific individuals.
The sales training manager is vital because they ensure that the team has the right skills and knowledge to be more productive and have better relationships with clients.
Often, at larger companies, the sales department will be broken down into teams. These teams require a team leader. The team leader, usually a high-performing salesperson within the smaller group, is also often called a sales supervisor and is mainly responsible for opening lines of communication between the different levels of the sales hierarchy. They must develop leads and praise salespeople, serving as management over their subset team.
The team leader is vital in ensuring smooth operation of multiple teams, allowing upper management to have a point person to refer to and communicate with concerning the performance of each team.
The account manager is a salesperson who works mostly with existing accounts at the company, ensuring clients’ needs are met and occasionally pursuing new accounts themselves. In some cases, they are responsible for managing the larger, more important client accounts and will only manage a handful at a time. They may also be responsible for managing the sales of specific products or product lines.
The main contribution of the account manager is the retention of clients. It is very important that, once sales are made and clients are attained, they are happy and continue to return to your company for business.
Salespeople are the employees who take care of the day-to-day management of the sales cycle, including contacting potential clients, generating leads and leading sales meetings. These team members are usually broken down into inside sales and outside sales.
Inside salespeople are based in the office and primarily contact potential and current clients through phone calls and emails. Outside salespeople are based in the field and usually spend their time visiting clients and having sales meetings.
While a lower-ranking member at a company, salespeople are in some ways the most important members of the sales team, since they are the ones responsible for actually connecting with and engaging customers head-on.
Keeping a tight structure with thoroughly developed positions will help your business manage sales and keep employees responsible for specific tasks. Your sales team will ultimately be more productive when they are held accountable for their responsibilities and contributions.