Do you know how many sales heads to add or cut? Most companies lack a scientific approach to determine the right size of their sales force.  Often they peg their sales force size to a constant percentage of sales, paying no attention to market dynamics.  Or, if they hit their quota, companies will keep the same number of reps as the previous year – the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.  Both are tempting, but they fail to realize that most markets are fairly dynamic and a sales force size needs to be evaluated annually. In this tough and extremely competitive economy, a non-decision that maintains the status quo is mostly likely the wrong decision.


Sales Force Sizing


In our last post, we discussed a three-phased, systematic approach to Sales Force Sizing.


The first step to properly sizing your sales force is assessing its current size.  There are five tests typically conducted to evaluate whether the number of heads in your sales team is correct.  The five tests are:


  1. Customer Test
  2. Sales Force Morale Test
  3. Selling Test
  4. Competitive Test
  5. Financial Test


In this post we will cover the second test.


Sales Force Morale Test


The morale of your sales force is a leading indicator for a properly sized sales force.  Every sales team has its whiners, but an effective sales leader listens closely to the complaints of his/her top performers – especially if they are leaving the company.


When a sales force is to large, complaints are mostly about compensation.  Often you hear comments like…


  • “I can’t make enough money in my territory”
  • “Opportunity is spread too thin”
  • “My job no longer excites me”


These types of remarks are indicators that there are too few customers to call on for the number of reps in a given territory.


When a sales force is too small, salespeople complain about workload.  Often you hear comments like…


  • “I barely have time to call on all my leads”
  • “All I do is travel”
  • “I never hit my quota no matter how much effort I put forth”


Of course, many employees will overstate their workload with the supervisor.  But, when your sales force is undersized, the frequency and intensity of the complaints intensifies.  That is why a high turn-over rate can be a red flag that your sales force size is incorrect.


As you Resource Plan for 2012, take an inventory of what your sales force is saying, paying close attention to your A-Players.  Their comments are an invaluable source of insight into the proper sizing of your sales force.


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