Chief Strategists Discuss Organizing Sales Teams at Scale
A common challenge for companies across industries and markets is how to organize a sales team at scale. In a local market—one with a geographically limited radius—it’s relatively easy to connect the people selling your product with the people building it and telling its story. But as an organization grows, establishing centers of gravity and keeping sales reps supplied with expertise becomes increasingly challenging.
Outthinker Strategy Network chief strategy officers (CSOs) held a forum to discuss the issue. They covered a range of topics, from macro-level organizing frameworks to micro-level team structures. What follows is a summary of tips that emerged from their conversation.
Two Key Questions to Answer When Organizing a Sales Team at Scale
Question 1: Should you organize your sales team by geography or by industry?
When organizing a sales team, you must decide whether reps will specialize in understanding the nature of the industry or in understanding the nuances of a specific geographic zone. The chief strategy officers’ consensus: It depends. Neither is intrinsically superior; each should be deployed under certain conditions.
Of course, the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Selling in rural Ohio is different than selling in downtown San Francisco, and geographically-structured sales teams will also need industry expertise. But one will be the primary organizing principle while the other comes secondary.
Question 2: How do you keep your teams flexible while retaining necessary expertise?
The strategists discussed a secondary, nuanced challenge. How can you organize sales teams to be dynamic enough to adapt to unique sales scenarios while retaining the formal expertise required to sell? Two suggestions that our CSOs discussed are:
Assembling a sales team at scale is both art and science. These guiding decisions can help orient the team-builder in early stages, but each leader will have their own nuanced decisions to make along the way.