What’s the right outside and inside sales team structure?
I recently had a conversation with an exceptional sales leader I work with. We discussed the growth trajectory of his company (which has been fast and furious) and the challenges he’s facing. In particular, one thing he mentioned was they needed to restructure the organization to bring in more management.
I asked why and he replied, “Because we’re bumping up against that magic number of sales reps to managers (around eight to ten) and, in some cases, we have gone over that.” I told him it was smart to be thinking about this right now because when sales managers start managing twelve or more reps, their effectiveness as a manager starts to wane. They lose sight of their team’s performance, can’t coach the way they need to, and can’t spend quality one-on-one time.
As a result of this lack of one-on-one time, the best salespeople tend to leave because they’re not getting the attention they need. And if their performance is starting to drop as well, that’s a perfect storm of defections. Thus, pay attention to this magic team number if you don’t want your growth to stall.
Outside and Inside Sales Team Structure: The Magic Number
For most organizations, that magic number for an outside sales team is around eight to ten (you can go up to twelve depending on the size of the territory, the amount of travel that has to be done, and the experience level of the team).
For inside sales, you might be able to have more depending on how you’re structured. However, I’ve never seen a highly functioning inside sales manager with more than fourteen people on the team. And that’s in an environment where all fourteen are in the same office working side by side.
Set your managers and reps up for success by paying attention to those magic team numbers!
2 responses to “The Right Outside and Inside Sales Team Structure | Sales Strategies”
I agree with your thoughts on the 8-10 sales people. Is somewhat dependent on the amount of physical territory needed to cover.
Hi Colleen, enjoy reading your articles.
If a sales manager coaches their external sales team and the team is competent, 8-12 direct reports work well. However, if the sales team is inexperienced and or new to the company, a 6:1 ratio allows the sales manager to provide the attention they need. Regarding coaching, I refer to a sales manager being with the salesperson in their sales territories and not ‘coaching’ from behind a desk. With thanks, Kurt