Without defined inside sales team roles, any sales team will find its own organizational dynamic as it grows.
The inside sales reps will recognize their own top performers and fall in line behind. Most will keep their heads down and manage their tasks with little optimism or engagement.
The Inside Sales Manager must organize teams into functioning systems showing the ability and desire to win. Still, all teams need the clarity of individual roles and common purpose. A recent repIGNITE article examined role differentiation at its simplest. Here, we want to strengthen that understanding as applied to a more complex organization.
Picture sales team roles
PQR Valve, Inc. manufactures, sells, and distributes hydraulic valves. Some valves are small enough to hold in your fist; some are large enough to walk through. The valves have myriad applications and sell individually and in volume.
Customers approach this imaginary company through catalogs, online, word-of-mouth, print advertisements, referrals from architects and engineers, and more. The sales of some unique products flow steadily, but there is competition for other products. Inside Sales Representatives sell most items B2B. Outside Sales Representatives sell and service large singular orders in the field.
Structure sales team roles
Because the simplest products have some complexity, PQR Valve values continuity among its salespeople. The company wants to keep turnover to a minimum and believes the desired loyalty comes from strong leadership, motivating compensation, and clearly defined roles.
In this specific instance, all deals depend on the accessibility and input from sales engineers for specs on application, product line, and product interface.
In this case, compensation will also reflect skill, size of the sale, and functional participation. But, these remain broad illustrations, and we want to look at the team dynamic.
Titles are probably important, but we are more interested in the functions represented.
Here are most important sales team roles:
The Team Leader (or whatever label you use) has to meet agreed upon numbers. Additional responsibilities include placing and retaining high-potential performers, developing underperforming sales reps, and managing administrative duties. Compensation must reflect these people-performance issues as well as the sales outcomes.
A business like PQR Valve has an inventory of inter-related products, highly sophisticated versions, standard basics, and a core book of returning customers. These interests need tending and nurturing. The reps assigned to this inside sales role build and sustain relationships, working to solve existing products and help roll out new ones. Their job focuses on getting customers to say “yes,” again.
Because a company cannot grow on existing business alone, it needs sales team roles focused on finding and winning new business. In a firm like PQR, that puts people into the field visiting sites and securing territories. They bring the business to the customer, and with sizable deals at stake, they depend on immediate support from folks inside. These might be labeled Account Executives or Account Managers, but their job is to locate needs of size and link solutions.
At its best, Marketing presents a mass of information, but the information does not create leads until the data is understood. Finders, prospectors, or cold-callers, our scouts prepare leads. They identify, develop, and acquire new prospective clients while they manage the team/department’s customer pipeline.
Every team needs internal support. A large and complex unit may need Inside Sales Specialists to do the legwork. They prepare presentations, trade show supplies, contracts, and more, so teammates are prepared with material and resources to function at peak performance.
Layering compensation, bonuses, and other incentives to reflect these differentiated inside sales team roles remains a challenge. But, absent the role differentiation, the team lacks direction and an organizational dynamic. Absent the role differentiation, metrics are difficult to frame and apply.
Admittedly, the roles described here and the team structure assumed does not fit every B2B situation, but they should be enough to continue and open our discussion on inside sales team roles.