How Many Salespeople Should Report to a Sales Manager?

Dave Kurlan is a top-rated keynote speaker, best-selling author, sales thought leader and expert on all things sales and selling.

Objective Management Group has evaluated nearly 10,000 sales forces. Each time, we must ignore titles and focus on roles of each individual in the evaluation. After all, a sales manager without salespeople reporting to him is really a salesperson. A VP without sales managers reporting to her is really a sales manager.

It begs the question, how many salespeople should report to a sales manager?

Sales team size is variable but a front line sales manager should not have more than 10 people reporting and the optimal size is 6-8.

A Regional Sales Manager should not have more than 10 sales managers reporting up and the optimal size is 6-8.

A VP should not have more than 10 Regionals reporting and again, the optimal size is 6-8.

Then you have to consider quotas. Quotas are probably the most screwed up performance requirement I’ve ever seen.  As a rule of thumb, in order to optimize quotas, you must identify all of the variables like:

  • Size of the territory
  • Number of potential accounts/deals
  • Average deal size
  • Rep’s length of time in the business
  • Competition and Resistance
  • Length of the Sales Cycle

After the variables have been identified, consider the performance of only your A players, select only A players and set your quotas accordingly. Lowering quotas to the level of your salespeople is like lowering the requirement to graduate high school based on how the graduating class applied themselves for the previous 12 years!

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