Sales force Design Mistakes Good article here, Five Common – and Avoidable – Mistakes in Sales Force Design, by ZS Associates. We have summarized theses mistakes and added our take.

  1. Role pollution – Sales people are involved in too many support and non-sales activities. Peak’s Take: We see this a lot, particularly from sales managers that weren’t themselves top sales people, and sales people frequently complain activities that interfere with their ability to sell. It serves companies well to review selling methods and look at ways to streamline processes and remove non-critical tasks and/or automate repetitive activities.
  2. Non-strategic focus –  Sales people spend too much time pursuing non-strategic and small opportunities. Peak’s Take: In many organizations, the commission plan inadvertently incentivizes reps to chase non strategic opportunities. Sales managers need to regularly review sales team member’s activities and comp plans to ensure that they create incentives for the right behaviors and deals. As the article points out, deals that are below the threshold for desirability should be sent to a channel if one exists.
  3. Fragmentation across key or strategic accounts – The sales team takes a disjointed approach to selling into key accounts. Peak’s Take: Many sales organizations lack a standard selling approach that includes best practices, rules of engagement and cross selling protocol (particularly in smaller companies) and internal competition between functions (especially in larger organizations). Senior management must take an lead role in driving the adoption process and collaborative key account selling across the organization.
  4. Sales force size and effort allocations made without using analytics. Sales management relies on intuition or make decisions based on incomplete information and ratios. Peak’s Take:  We see many sales organizations still in the dark ages when it comes to sales data and analytics in spite of the fact that it is so easy to collect with today’s sales force automation and CRM tools. Sales leadership needs to make sure to look at territories and plans bottom up and top down to test assumptions and to make sales plans based on conclusive evidence.
  5. Sales territories or account assignments are out of balance. Sales territories have far more demand than the available or assigned resources can reasonably capture. Peak’s Take: Sales leadership needs to review territories and assignments to make sure that there are either sufficient or the load of accounts and market demand to achieve sales goals given available resources.

We were disappointed that ZS’s top 5 did not include “organizations failing to fully understand  sales role requirements” as this has contributed to significant amounts of effort being wasted in hiring and developing unqualified sales reps, which in turn has had a huge impact on the ability of many sales organizations to achieve sales targets. On the assumption that ZS viewed this as outside the scope of sales force design, we will give them a pass. To read what is otherwise a strong article, click here:  Five Common – and Avoidable – Mistakes in Sales Force Design

image courtesy of jscreationzs |


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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