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How to structure a sales team

There comes a time for every sales leader when you start questioning what exactly is preventing you from attaining your objectives. You know something’s wrong, yet you can’t identify the reason.

This can indicate the need to reorganize the structure of your sales force.

Having a powerful sales force is crucial – it solidifies and supports the whole business. But it’s important to know that a sales force is a complex structure that can’t be optimized by reviewing the recruitment method or training plan only.

When to restructure the sales team

First, let’s look at a few warning signs which indicate that your sales force should be restructured, and then on how to proceed.

Complacency among salespeople

A lack of process, or an insufficiently developed one, creates a flaw in the sales structure. This often results in complacency among the representatives.

The business manager and sales managers blame themselves for the lack of success with their salespeople. They fault poor communication, lack of support or coaching, while the poor performance is rather due to a defective process. Getting off easy, the representatives take the opportunity to blame the company for their failure.

That’s when complacency and lack of commitment take over and undermine the morale and performance of the entire sales force.

Time to integrate a new representative

The integration of a new representative can provide a good idea your process’s clarity. One only has to observe the new recruit’s integration to the team. Is it effective? Does the representative know their objectives? How long does the integration process take?

If we discover that the integration period is very long, it probably means that there’s a deficit in the process and structure.

Ineffective reporting

The state of the reporting may indicate that your sales structure must be reviewed. Take these two examples: the sales leader notices that the submitted reports don’t provide the desired information, or he or she fails to identify the source of good or bad work from their representatives.

Of course, there are other signs than those mentioned above. In case of doubt, you can always contact us for an evaluation of your sales force.

Structuring the sales team

The sales force is near and far the set of elements in a company that contribute the most to sales performance: from recruitment to the remuneration of representatives, all the way through training, the process to follow for each opportunity, as well as the indicators of performance defined according to the sales objectives.

When you’re thinking of restructuring the sales force, you must be aware that you’re tackling a big chunk and if you’re small or mid-sized business, you can’t simply copy/paste the sales structure of Apple, Nestle and other large companies.

That’s why the process is divided into several steps, depending on the priorities.

Steps to structure a sales team

  1. Evaluate the sales team;
  2. Review the sales process;
  3. Define objectives and sales forecasts;
  4. Tackle the sales team structure;
  5. Redefine expectations;
  6. Review all internal sales systems and processes.

The restructuring can begin after the evaluation of the sales force (you can conduct a free preliminary evaluation effectiveness of your sales force here). In general, we then begin by reviewing the sales process, which governs how to treat each opportunity, from prospecting to closing. This is fundamental in that it allows representatives and managers to speak the same language.

We then proceed to define the objectives and the sales forecasts, as well as the performance indicators. With the latter, we’ll be able to measure the results of the representatives’ sales activities according to the established objectives and forecasts.

Once this is done, the architecture of the sales force may be tackled, which is the structural organization of everyone’s role. Everything must be thought of. For example, roles must be defined between salespeople: hunters, farmers or account managers.

Expectations must also be redefined, an element often neglected. What are the organization’s expectations towards its salespeople? What’s a good performance level? What’s acceptable or unacceptable? The list of questions may be long, but having clear expectations is essential to building a structured sales force.

In the end, all systems and processes of the sales organization must be reviewed. Here are some examples:

  • Coaching process;
  • Motivational process (goals, plans);
  • Accountability process;
  • Recruitment process (hiring, dismissal, performance plan);
  • Growth process (employee development and training).

How long will it take to see results after restructuring the sales team?

Know that it doesn’t take place overnight but requires between 2 and 3 years of work. Thus, it’s a gradual and constant evolution that allows us to define all the processes in the sales organization.

In general, the steps followed are roughly the same, but it all depends on the circumstances. Depending on the situation experienced by a company, it’s possible that one process is prioritized over another. Some aspects are also dependent on others: for example, architecture must be defined before moving on to remuneration.

However, rest assured that you’ll see the first results appear well before 2 years!

Why restructure your sales team?

It’s a relatively long process that requires a lot of work, but there are many benefits. As the steps are undertaken, the structure will become more robust and the sales manager will feel more in control.

As for the representatives, the restructuring influences their motivation as well as their mobilization. Indeed, the sales force is more motivated and committed when the structure and objectives are clear.

In the end, a powerful sales force allows the company to have a solid structure, a more cohesive and motivated team and, therefore, to obtain exceptional sales results.


As with any major project, restructuring the sales team requires good planning. Before we can develop a strategy, we need to start by analyzing the initial situation. It’s important to start at the beginning, otherwise the efforts invested may be in vain.

In this sense, the first step is certainly to evaluate your sales force. By accurately portraying your reality, with its strengths and weaknesses, it’ll clearly show you the elements that are blocking the growth of your sales, be it at the level of the sales processes, managers or representatives. You’ll then have the necessary foundation to begin the process of restructuring your sales force.