What is the right sales structure for your stage of business?

by Patrick Thorp - February 4, 2021

Here at Sales for Startups, we focus on Seed and Series A funded businesses. As such, a business will change dramatically from having just received their Seed round to their Series A.

They’ll be going through a lot of growing pains as a result, and one of those changes is going to be the structure of the sales organization. If it was right at the Pre-Seed level does that still mean it will be right at the Series A level? Unlikely, but it could be – it will be dependent upon your style of business.

There are 3 structures to think about.

The Assembly Line

This is arguably the most traditional structure because we have adapted to understand exactly what Henry Ford set out to create. This is where you would have a Marketing Team, creating opportunities for the Sales Development team to qualify. This is then for the Account Executives to close, before being handed over to Customer Success to manage and grow.

It is all pretty clear who does what but the challenge is the handover process between these 4 key areas and ultimately to ensure the customer is getting a great experience all throughout the process.

The Pod

This structure is great if you are a product business. All members of the team are to be obsessed with the product and it is a team of 4, including:

  • An outbound individual
  • An inbound marketer
  • A closer
  • A customer success member.

Why this works well is that everyone in the pod has similar roles to that of an assembly line, but they are product obsessed. They all have an interest in converting a stranger to an evangelist in the shortest and most customer-centric way possible. Pod targets/incentives can also be put in place

The Specialist

This is where you have your sales team focussed on entry routes into your company. For example, you would have a team that solely focussed on inbound leads, and then a team that focussed solely on outbound efforts.

This does work very well because the treatment an inbound lead receives is very different to that of an outbound. If you imagine a funnel, an outbound lead is considered a good fit, but then the pain needs to be established. Whereas an inbound lead has pain, but then is to be qualified to understand if they are a good fit. Very different talk tracks. This structure is more appropriate for larger businesses.

Perhaps a better way of thinking about it would be to use the Assembly line for when you are starting out, perhaps when you are still Founder led sales. MRR around £0-15k. Then you can recruit and graduate into the pod structure to build this out. MRR around £15k-100k. Then once you have achieved the £100k MRR (or over £1m ARR) then it may be time to consider the specialised models.

Point to note: this is not to say that a company cannot cultivate an efficient Assembly line structure whilst making over £100k MRR, far from it. It is dependent on the business and what is being sold, but these 3 structures I have implemented and seen work effectively across a number of different Seed and Series A funded businesses.

Further Reading

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