Would you like your sales team to sell more and cost less?

We thought so.

In that case, I’ve got one word for you: S P E C I A L I Z E.

By having field sales reps focus exclusively on face-to-face selling and by expanding and upgrading your inside sales and client support teams, you’ll create a team of specialists who will sell more.

This team approach can be far more efficient and effective than the traditional sales structure.

In this post, I’ll describe the new sales structure and show how it can increase revenue while reducing sales costs.

The Old Model Isn’t Working

The traditional sales structure is primarily, if not exclusively, dependent on highly compensated field sales reps. These reps are responsible for every phase of the sales cycle from generating leads to managing client relationships.

This model no longer works. There are two reasons:

  • The buying process has changed.
  • The model is extremely inefficient and expensive.

To sell more, let’s first look at the buying process. Buyers no longer need sales reps to learn about a company’s products and services. That information is readily available on the internet.

As a result, buyers want to meet face-to-face with sales reps much later in the buying process, if ever. Inside sales reps can now play a role previously filled by the field sales team much more efficiently.Juggling Sales Reps Don

Then there is the field rep system. At many companies, the field sales reps look like the figure on the right: juggling multiple tasks. They generate leads, cultivate prospects, handle face-to-face meetings, negotiate deals, and manage the overall relationship with the client once the deal closes.

This system is inefficient. Studies suggest that field sales reps spend only 40% of their time actually selling.

The system is also very expensive. Field sales reps are often among a company’s most highly compensated employees.

New Sales Roles Designed to Sell More

Justin Roff-Marsh and other sales experts advocate a different sales structure, one far less dependent on expensive and inefficient field sales reps. In the new structure:

  • Field Sales Reps now focus exclusively on face-to-face meetings and closing larger deals. They no longer have an end-to-end relationship with the prospect and client.
  • Inside Sales takes on an expanded role: supporting field sales by developing leads and cultivating prospects plus selling to larger accounts and managing relationships with existing accounts.
  • Sales/Client Support Specialists handle routine customer service but also support the field sales team by preparing presentations and proposals and ensuring that the field sales team has the necessary sales tools.

The grid below shows how the new model might work in a company with a 10-person sales organization. The field sales team would shrink and the inside sales team would expand dramatically.

Each team’s responsibilities are highlighted in the chart. Note how the field sales reps’ responsibilities have been reduced. Their former responsibilities are noted with a “x.” Their current responsibilities are highlighted with red blocks.

New More Sales Model Changrs

Below are two grids with revenue and sales costs under the Old Model and the New Sell More Model.



New More Sales Model

Old Model

  • Field Sales
    • Compensation – $200,000 + $50,000 in T&E.
    • Revenue Responsibility – 95%+.

New Model

  • Field Sales
    • Selling time increases from by 75%, from 2 days a week to 3.5 days a week.
    • Revenue per rep increases 50% in revenue per rep to $3 million from $2 million.
    • Revenue Responsibility – 75% of company revenue.
  • Inside Sales
    • Headcount increases to four from one.
    • Upgraded skills and increased selling focus result in 50% increase in revenue per rep.
    • Revenue Responsibility – 25% of overall (up from < 5%).
  • Overall Revenue – Increases by $1.5 million or 14%.
  • Sales Costs
    • Sales costs drop by $95,000 to 13% of sales from 16%.
    • Field Sales drop by $575,000 – lower headcount and lower per rep. compensation – $150,000 + $75,000 in T & E.
    • Inside Sales – $400,000 increase in cost due to increase in headcount and 50% increase in per rep compensation.

Getting Started with the New Sell More Model

Don’t expect to accomplish this sell more transition overnight. You’ll need to expand your inside sales team and shrink your field sales team. The entire process could take one to two years.

The first step would be to beef up your inside sales team. That alone could take a year.

Restructuring the field sales team will be tricky. You need to reduce the size of the team and individual compensation.New Sales System = Pot of Gold

As you strengthen the inside sales team, consider letting the lowest performing field sales reps go. Alternatively, if a
field rep leaves, you could decide not to replace him or her.

Expect your overall sales costs to go up for at least a year and maybe even two years. You’ll need to carry the field sales reps at their current compensation for a while. And you may need to pay severance.

However, once the transition is complete, you should have a sales team that produces more and costs less.