It doesn't matter if you have the most amazing lead generation ideas in the world. They won’t work without the right team structure in place. Prospecters should prospect, and closers should close.

Exactly how you specialize your sales team is up to you in making it work for your specific situation. The underlying principle is about helping your people focus and do fewer things better, because when salespeople multitask they’re doing many things poorly.

For example, to have a successful, durable prospecting team, the prospectors need to prospect. They shouldn’t close, respond to inbound leads, or act as part-time telemarketers when Marketing’s trying to fill events. However, when you do need prospectors to juggle tasks, try to have the non-prospecting work account for less than 10 to 20% of their time. The same is true of new business closers -- other kinds of work should take up a only small percentage of their time.

While every team is different and creates different flavors, there are four basic specialized roles in sales:

  1. Inbound lead qualification
  2. Outbound prospecting
  3. Closing new business
  4. Post-sales (account management/customer success) 

We realize some of you still need help convincing your team to go "all the way” with specialization. It can be daunting to take a sales team that has been closing and managing its own accounts, and change, well, everything.

Here are four compelling reasons to specialize that might prompt you to change:

  1. Effectiveness. When people are focused on one area, they become experts. 
  2. Farm teamHaving multiple roles in Sales gives you a simple career path to grow and promote people internally. This creates a cheaper, less risky, and better way to recruit than relying too heavily on outside hires. A rule of thumb: Over the long term, grow two-thirds of your people internally and hire one-third externally for new ideas and blood.
  3. InsightsBy breaking your roles into separate functions, you can easily see and fix where the bottlenecks are. When everyone is doing everything, it’s like having a tangled ball of yarn you can’t tease apart.
  4. ScalabilitySpecialization makes it easier to hire, train, measure, grow, and promote people across the board.

However, there are also some significant concerns sales leaders struggle with when it comes to specialization. Here are the two most common. 

1) Relationship Ownership

Doesn’t passing a prospect or customer off from one person to another create problems? Shouldn’t the person who builds a relationship from day one also own and maintain it?

No -- not if you have simple, thoughtful ways to hand off customers, and set their expectations appropriately. In fact, customers get much better service from a specialized sales team. With specialists at each step of the way, prospects are always getting the right answers fast. It’s hard for a salesperson who’s working on proposals to drop everything and follow up with a new inbound lead right away, address an urgent problem at a current customer, or to focus on much of anything important that’s not getting them to their quota this period.

So by specializing -- in a way that makes sense for your business -- you’re actually doing customers a favor.

2) “Those roles don’t fit us.”

The four core roles named above are not absolute requirements, but merely a template for you to adapt. 

Don’t be afraid to implement the principle behind specialization -- focus -- in your own way. Give people fewer, more important things to do. 

In summary, specializing your salespeople is the most important thing you can do to create predictable, scalable sales revenue. Want to learn more? Check out "Why Salespeople Shouldn't Prospect."

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the upcoming book The Predictable Revenue Guide to Tripling Your Sales, and is published here with permission. 

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Originally published Mar 10, 2015 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017


Sales Organization Structure