The Competitive Test is one of several that can be evaluated and counted on to provide solid data to make informed decisions on sales force sizing.  To hit revenue objectives, sales leaders must have the right size of sales force to provide the level of sales activity required to drive revenue. 


Approach to Resource Planning – Sales Force Sizing Optimization


Effective resource planning requires evaluating sales force sizing through a series of tests.  Each test is unique and provides a valuable insight that when analyzed together can be viewed common themes that converge together.  Looking for trends across the multiple tests provides a complete picture to draw conclusions.  The following are the main tests to rely upon in your resource planning to determine the optimum sales force size:


The Competitive Test


Understanding the size of your competitor’s sales force in relation to their market share provides a valuable piece of the puzzle when evaluating resource planning.  The competitive test itself is very straight forward, yet can be elusive to complete since access to the data is not controlled to the same degree internal data is readily accessible for the other tests.


Depending on the industry, the size of a competitor’s sales force can be researched through public means.  Perhaps the quickest and most accurate read is from employees who know the industry. In general, most companies have tenured personnel who know the industry and can provide an accurate count of the quantity of the sales force.


Market share depends in part, on the “share of voice” that a company enjoys through its sales force size.  Large sales forces maintain a high level of visibility within customer accounts and thus participate in more sales opportunities as a result.  Sales force size can be optimized to maintain market share even in a period of sales force size reductions.  An understanding of competitor sales force size and their resulting market share are key elements to this sizing test.


Steps to implement the Competitive Test


  1. Determine the leading competitors.
  2. Collect market share data and competitor sales force size information.
  3. Construct a matrix of your own market share and sales force size.
  4. For each competitor and for your own company, document the sales force size and the relative market share in absolute dollar terms or as a percentage.


Below is a list of the competitive information required for each competitor:


  • Company
  • Sales force
  • Size
  • Total Sales Revenue
  • Your Company


Value of Competitive Insights


Sales leaders benefit tremendously when they have confidence the sales force is the right size.  Even when undersized, as long as there is objective data supporting this conclusion then expectations can be set for performance.   Invest in resource planning to ensure your sales force has the right headcount to drive your revenue goals.


Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you can make your number? Here is an interactive tool that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the Revenue Growth Diagnostic test and rate yourself against SBI’s sales and marketing strategy to find out if:

  • Your revenue goal is realistic
  • You will earn your bonus
  • You will keep your job