by Patrick Thorp - October 20, 2020

What are the different functions within a sales structure?

There are two important parts to building a team. First, it is understanding that the structure you have decided on is the correct structure and secondly, assuming this is the correct structure for your size and age of business, what roles and responsibilities are required to make up this team.

For the businesses we help, which are funded anywhere between Pre-Seed and Series C, there are two structures that I favour: the Assembly line and the Pod. The functions exist within both with a couple of differences.

1) Sales Development Representative (SDR) – Assembly and Pod 

An SDR (also referred to as Business Development Rep, Business Development Executive) is the Hunter. They source the leads and are on the frontline for most businesses. Often entry level positions, they play a critical role in the Sales Development and are focussed on filling an Account Executive’s pipeline with quality appointments

2) Account Executive (AE) – Assembly and Pod 

An AE is responsible for taking qualified leads and converting them into customers and can be referred to as the Closer. These individuals have often been an SDR and through good performance have been promoted into the role. They work closely with the SDR at the strategic and tactical level to increase brand awareness and revenue for the company

3) Customer Success Manager (CSM) – Assembly and Pod 

A CSM is tasked with retaining and growing a business’s accounts. They are referred to as the Farmer and want to keep churn low and spend up on an upward trajectory. They form an incredibly important role in the sales process because they convert paying customers into evangelists and are more relationship based than their AE counterparts.

4) Inbound Marketing Manager (IMM) – Pod 

The IMM is responsible for creating content and driving brand awareness, attracting leads into the company ecosystem, nurturing them through Lead to MQL and finally to SQL stage where they become the responsibility of the SDR. Think of it like this, an IMM handles inbound, and the SDR handles the outbound.

Having these 4 roles in a Pod, means that you have a neat Pod of 4 often aligned to a particular product. With the Assembly line, you have SDR > AE > CSM with Marketing orbiting around this linear structure. Not one structure is better than the other, it depends on what and to who you sell.

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