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Field Sales vs. Direct Sales: How to Structure Your Sales Team

July 27, 2022

A good sales team is at the heart of every successful business. They bridge the gap between customers' needs and the business's product or service that can fulfill their needs. Building a powerful, carefully constructed sales team is crucial to their success. The elements of a productive and successful sales team are the same, whether it's field sales or direct sales teams. Let’s explore what they are!

Elements of a Successful Sales Team

What do field sales reps do?

What do direct sales reps do?

3 Types of Sales Team Structures

The Importance of Company Culture to Sales Teams

Elements of a Successful Sales Team

Sales teams may be made up of individuals, but it's not a solo act. When putting together your sales team, you have to know what it takes to make a good sales team. Finding qualified people is the first hurdle. There are other essential elements they will need to have to be a successful part of your sales team. They must:

  1. Possess natural energy and charisma
  2. Effectively communicate
  3. Possess excellent time management skills
  4. Genuinely invest their time with customers
  5. Deliver on promises they make 
  6. Hold themselves accountable to their goals

An additional key element to a successful sales team is the leader. Without a good leader who supports their team and encourages them to push to meet their goals, the team will have a lot of fractures.

What do field sales reps do?

The role of a field sales rep is to have face-to-face interactions with prospects and customers. Field sales reps are generally used for business-to-business (B2B) and wholesale organizations' products and services. Leads generally come from prospects that contact the company or from contracts with businesses. In-person visual methods such as samples, demonstrations, and displays enhance the buying experience for the customer, making it more personal. Field sales processes rely strongly on relationship-building and long-term contracts. 

What do direct sales reps do?

The role of direct sales reps relies on finding and following up on leads, qualifying potential customers, and using various sales techniques through all phases of the sales process to convince people to buy certain products. New clients are found using various techniques, including cold calling, canvassing, customer referrals, and leads generated by other employees. Direct sales processes rely on selling products directly to the customer. 

3 Types of Sales Team Structures

  1. The Island - A single representative manages their prospect through the entire buyer's journey. Smaller sales teams frequently use this structure. Pros - Creates a competitive culture and maximizes individual output. Cons - Managing many accounts may be stressful and prioritizes individual success over team effort.
  2. The Assembly Line - Sales teams are organized according to job titles. Leads are handed off between specialized teams, like in an assembly line, to move prospects through the different sales cycle stages. Pros - Promotes specialization. Sales Representatives are experts within their respective fields. Cons - High risk of poor customer experience due to many handoffs. 
  3. The Pod - A combination of the island and the assembly model. Sales teams are divided into small groups of specialized representatives for each sales cycle stage. It is primarily used by large business organizations. Pros - Fosters smooth handing off leads and allows sales teams to be adjusted according to skill. Cons - Poor performers ride successful teammates' coattails, making individual motivation more challenging. 

The Importance of Company Culture to Sales Teams

Company culture affects operations from top-level executives to front-line team members. For sales teams, company culture can affect internal competitiveness, ethics, team dynamics, and the quality of customer relationships. Teams that are collaborative and see each other as partners, not competitors, are more successful overall. Organizations that give bonuses only to high achievers could be creating an individualistic and competitive culture. Focusing more resources on team-based metrics ensures everyone has a stake in the sales team's success.

There's a lot to consider when building a successful sales team. How you structure your team depends on your business model and the product or service you offer. Your company culture has a huge impact on sales teams, so it's important for leaders to promote a healthy company culture that fosters teamwork and growth.

Give your sales reps the tools they need to be the most successful in the field.

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