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11 Sales Team Structures: Types and How To Choose

Every sales team is a proprietary blend of sales team structure models. These models are designed to best serve the organization, product, sales cycle, and industry. 

In this blog, we’re exploring eleven distinct sales team structure models. We’re also sharing the insights we’ve gathered from working with thousands of companies to build and grow their sales teams. You’ll find everything you need to know to get familiar with high-performance sales team structure models to align your team with your goals. 

5 Key Factors to Consider When Deciding Which of the Sales Organizational Structures Is Right for Your Sales Team 

  1. Industry: We have seen some startups find success with inside sales while others lean towards outside sales. Tailor your sales approach to the unique demands of your industry. 
  2. Budget: Your budget directly impacts the size of your sales team and the resources available to them. Understand your financial constraints and work your sales team structure around them.
  3. Company Size: Adjust the complexity of your sales organizational structures to make the most efficient use of your sales team. Smaller organizations may benefit from simpler structures. Larger organizations might require more specialized structures.
  4. Sales Goals: B2B companies should remember that their specific sales goals and target audiences will require unique sales strategies and team structures. Choose the structure that will make achieving your goals as effortless as possible. 
  5. Organizational Structure: Evaluate how your sales team integrates into the overall organizational framework and existing hierarchies. 

11 Different Types of Sales Team Organizational Structure Models

#1 Island Sales Team Structures

In industries where a high level of intimacy and familiarity would benefit each customer, the island sales team’s organizational structure provides dedicated attention and a strong sense of accountability. 

In this sales team structure, each sales representative takes on the entire sales process for each client — from prospecting to closing, onboarding, and beyond. What the island sales team structure lacks in collaboration, it makes up for in creativity. Flexibility and motivational autonomy are also features of the island structure. 

#2 Assembly Line Sales Team Structures

If your sales team requires individuals to develop extensive expertise and experience in their respective roles, an assembly line sales team structure could be a fantastic fit for your company. If your company has a clear B2B sales plan, this approach can help your sales process. 

Done well, the rigidity of this structure can help streamline the sales process and ensure that clients are moved from one phase in the sales process to the next. Troubleshooting and improving sales outcomes in this structure can be more accessible in this structure since each sales professional has such clearly outlined responsibilities. 

#3 Pod Sales Team Structures

Pod sales team structures are known for their collaborative and agile nature. Each pod in a sales team operates autonomously and cross-functionally. Within a pod, you’ll typically find several types of sales professionals, such as representatives, marketing specialists, and customer success experts. This structure works well when you need groups dedicated to specific goals, customer types, or products and services. This structure is also an excellent pick for markets that endure a lot of change, as the team can respond quickly, amplify creative solutions, and follow a customer journey from beginning to end.

#4 Outside Sales Team Structures

The outside sales team structure is particularly effective in B2B sales where face-to-face interactions are required to close sales. Outside sales teams often travel to client offices for meetings. SaaS sales that require on-site demonstrations or long sales cycles that demand a high-touch challenger approach might benefit from the personal relationship building that an outside sales team structure fosters. In this structure, trust is vital to success. 

#5 Inside Sales Team Structures

An inside sales team is an effective model for industries where face-to-face sales are unnecessary. They are also good for companies who want to constrain costs by eliminating travel and on-site sales. Inside sales teams require more digital-savvy sales talent than the outside sales team structure, as this sales model leverages technology and uses phone calls, video conferencing, and email to build meaningful and profitable client relationships. 

#6 Geographical Sales Team Structures

Where many sales teams focus on roles and goals to determine their team structure, a geographical sales team structure, also known as a territory organizational structure, divides salespeople regionally. This allows salespeople to learn the local industry and culture intimately. 

Local expertise is particularly important when a product or service could be used differently in different regions. Companies that use a geographical sales team structure are also able to track results by location easily and determine which regions are most profitable. 

#7 Product or Service-Specific Sales Team Structures

Communicating the value of a service or a product is always a crucial component of sales, but in a product or service-specific sales team, value gets an added emphasis. Salespeople in this structure are each dedicated to deeply learning a specific product or service so that they are experts in the nuances of that sales process. If your company has a wide range of offerings, this structure may be highly beneficial. 

#8 Key Account Sales Team Structures

Some companies emphasize a select group of high-value customers or clients in their sales process. If this is your organization, your sales team’s organizational structure should reflect the priority status of these relationships. A key account executive team focuses on managing and growing these accounts. 

#9 Hunter-Farmer Sales Team Structures

Common in B2B sales, the hunter-farmer sales team assigns salespeople with unique sales talent, skills, and approaches to sales into respective roles. Hunter sales types handle more lead generation, cold leads, and sales that require an aggressive approach, while the farmer sales types nurture very warm leads, onboard new clients, and upsell current clients. This balance keeps new clients coming in and existing business growing. 

#10 Matrix Sales Team Structures

If your company is a large organization with complex product lines, a matrix sales team could be a great fit. In a matrix organizational structure, salespeople report to both a functional sales manager and a product or geography-specific manager. This dual reporting process keeps authority within a hierarchical structure and relies less on the employee’s autonomous decision-making abilities. 

#11 Specialized Sales Team Structures

When tracking very specific metrics is important to an organization, the specialized sales team structure excels. In this organizational structure model, sales teams are divided based on roles. This increases efficiency, leading to high-performing sales teams since, for example, everyone in lead generation is focused only on their internal goals and what they contribute to them. Specialized salespeople can focus better when they are not distracted by sales goals they can’t control.

5 Most Common Team Structure Mistakes Sales Managers Make 

  1. Taking a One-Size-Fits-All Approach: Creating your sales team structure isn’t as simple as picking one model and running with it. Any sales team structure should be thoroughly designed and tailored to your company’s unique needs and goals.
  2. Ignoring Market Changes: When changes in your industry or the market you’re selling occur, some companies will get ahead while others fall behind. Failing to adapt your structure will leave you playing catch up. 
  3. Convoluting Communication: Team roles, responsibilities, and expectations are often left to ‘assuming’ instead of being clearly outlined, communicated, and understood by team members. 
  4. Overcomplicating Team Structure: Complex structures can hinder efficiency and create confusion. As you customize your team structure, keep simplicity in mind.
  5. Underutilizing Technology: Failing to leverage technology and data analytics leads to an uninformed and under-optimized structure. 

8 Ways to Ensure a Successful Sales Team Structure

High-performing sales teams are positioned for success long before their achievements result in tangible outcomes. To help your team succeed and grow, remember these tips when combining sales structures to create your own model. 

  1. Set Clear Objectives for Your Team: When you know what you’re trying to accomplish, clarity on your sales organizational structures will emerge. And no matter the structure you decide on, clear, measurable objectives will help you keep your team focused.
  2. Invest in Team Training: When you decide on the structure of your sales team, look for opportunities to grow the sales skills of your team that are most relevant to your structure. For example, training for an outside sales team could include public speaking and relationship building.
  3. Use Technology to Increase Efficiency: Leverage CRM and sales enablement tools to streamline your chosen sales organizational structures and improve your processes. 
  4. Measure and Analyze: Define your KPIs and gather data on these regularly. Taking note of your team’s performance not only shows areas for improvement but it also can signal a need for a structural reevaluation.
  5. Regularly Review and Adjust Your Structure: As market conditions and company needs change over time, you’ll want to remain agile in your sales structure. Assess your team on a regular basis and be prepared to pivot. 
  6. Foster a Collaborative Culture: A successful sales team structure maintains a healthy balance of friendly competition and collaboration. Pay attention to ways you can make information-sharing easier within your team. 
  7. Provide Ongoing Feedback for Ongoing Improvement: It is the sales manager or sales leader’s job to take in the big picture and address gaps in the sales team. Providing regular feedback can keep your sales organizational structures cohesive while fostering growth.
  8. Incentivize and Motivate Your Team: Get to know what motivates and inspires your team. Use this insight to customize and implement an effective compensation and incentive plan. 

Whether you’re looking to add structure to your sales team or just need to fill specific roles within your structure, we’d love to help. Contact us today to gain access to our global network of top talent and get your sales team success journey started.   


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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.