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The lowest hanging fruit for sales force effectiveness optimization is sales performance management and sales process improvements such as mapping the seller’s process to the decision making process.  Any sales force resource planning should be done after first understanding how the existing sales force benchmarks against world-class companies in key sales force effectiveness drivers.  The point is that there are many variables impacting performance and sales leaders should not look at any one improvement area in isolation. Resource planning is core to having the optimum hours of selling capacity in the field to reach your revenue objectives.


Approach to Resource Planning – Sales Force Sizing Optimization
The first step of resource planning in evaluating sales force sizing is to conduct a series of tests.  Each test provides an insight from a different vantage point that when analyzed together can be viewed for trends.  The key is to look for key trends across the multiple tests that converge together collectively to tell a powerful story.  The following are the main tests to rely upon in your resource planning to determine the optimum sales force size: 



The Morale Test
A company’s sales force morale is impacted by improper sales force size.  A sales force that is too large will result in complaints centering on lack of opportunity and lead to high turnover of your top reps.  Running a team that is too small will lead to unsustainable workload where reps are missing opportunities to cross-sell and earn commissions while the company is losing out on growth opportunities.  Both produce strong indicators of a sales force size imbalance leading to lost revenue for the company and turnover of top reps. 


An employee survey of the sales force or an assessment from front line managers can provide great insight into the morale of the sales force. 


Sales teams can suffer from survey fatigue in many companies.  Start by collecting any recent sales force surveys and review the existing information for answers. This gives you the opportunity to shorten the survey as well as sharpen the survey to get insights into questions that help you drill deeper into root cause. 


Your questions should align closely with your established goals and objectives for compensation and work-life balance.


Importance of an Anonymous Survey
Candid response is necessary for valid results in an internal morale survey.  It’s important that the survey be offered so the sales reps can take it anonymously where individual responses are not connected to a specific person.  Some representatives may not be trusting and still be wary to respond candidly, but the majority of reps will respond candidly and provide the necessary trends to draw insights. 


Sample Questions – Starting Point for Your Morale Test
To provide you a good basis and starting point to build your analysis of morale, you can download a template survey. Download this PDF to receive the Sales Benchmark Index recommended foundation questions.


Start with analyzing the key trends that are reinforced across multiple responses.  Gain additional insights by “cross-tabbing” or selecting the specific respondents from a single point of view to find commonalities in the subset of that perspective.  When you’ve completed your analysis, ask your front line sales managers about what they are seeing and look for supportive trends that validate the findings from your analysis. 


The Morale Test is a foundation element of solid resource planning and provides an incredibly valuable indicator of sales force size by confirming the absence of morale issues or by identifying key indicators that point to possible imbalance.