The smart sales leader understands the dynamics between proper sizing and performance. Problems can surface if you grow your sales force too aggressively.  New salespeople need time to learn the company’s offerings, markets and selling process as well as establish customer relationships. Adding too many too quick will drive down overall productivity and affect the bottom-line.  On the other hand, if your sales force is too small you won’t close all the sales opportunities that could have been yours with proper staffing.  So how do you size your Sales force for success? A systematic process for correctly sizing your sales force involves the following three steps:  Assess, Determine & Implement.


Three Steps


Assess Current Size

You can quickly assess the current size of your sales force by performing the following five tests:


  1. Customer Test
  2. Sales Force Moral Test
  3. Selling Activities Test
  4. Competitive Position Test
  5. Financial Test


Customer Test – The voice of the customer provides invaluable insight into the proper sizing of your sales force.  One way to determine whether your sales force is the right size is to find out what your customer thinks.  Surveys can be leveraged to measure current customer’s viewpoint and its impact on your Resource Planning.  The table below illustrates common remarks that offer important signals that your sales force size is either too big or too small.



Customer Comments resized 600



A good example of too large of a sales force is the Pharmaceutical Industry.  Physicians have increasingly expressing their annoyance over the amount sales calls they get from pharmaceutical reps.  In a 2007 survey, over 90% of physicians and other healthcare professionals expressed sales rep fatigue.  Some doctors indicated they were visited by more than 20 different reps each day.  Listening to the voice of their customer, companies such as Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly dramatically cut the number of reps (2004-2007) and sought more efficient ways to maximize a smaller sales force for improved interaction with their physician clients.


Are you listening to the voice of your customer?


Next time we’ll look at other ways to assess the size of your sales force.