Resizing your Sales Force: Is the Juice worth the Squeeze?

February 26, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Resizing your sales force can be an exact science.  There are several best-in-class Sales Force Sizing methodologies that accurately match selling capacity (total # of available selling hours of your sales force) to market dynamics (actual demand for your product in the marketplace).  In previous blog posts, I have covered several of these: Activity Method, Pipeline Method and Return per Call Method.  The output of these sizing methodologies is a defined number of reps to deploy into a given geo or vertical.   

resizing your sale force

Determining accurate headcount is the first step in a sizing project; the next step is often the most difficult: How do I decide to go forward?  We can easily quantify the metrics - adding reps equals $xx in additional revenue; cutting headcount equals $xx in cost savings.  What is hard to measure are the risks and effort inherent to disrupting the current sales force.  Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Recall the Change Management Formula: Effectiveness = Quality x Adoption.  Changes to headcount are disruptive and to be successful must include a Change Management Plan.  Your implementation plan must identify and list potential adoption challenges and include a clear strategy to overcome them.

Here are some challenges to consider…

Push-back and Turn-over:  Because changes to sales force size effect territories (patch is either reduced or expanded), reps frequently greet the proposed change with resistance.  Comfort and complacency yield little appetite for hunting new logos in an expanded patch or giving up accounts in reduced territories.  Disgruntled reps will often leave the company.

Onboarding & Training: In addition to the usual disruptions, adding headcount requires sourcing, hiring, onboarding & training the new reps.  These consume not only HR’s time, but sales manager bandwidth.  A change management plan must consider the effort consumed in taking on additional headcount.

Key Takeaway:  A sizing model measures exact headcount, but it doesn’t quantify the effort to implement the changes to the sales force.  A successful implementation plan identifies the downstream impact of increasing/decreasing the number of reps, and develops a strategy to overcome the obstacles.

In my next blog post, I will cover some key strategies to overcome a few of the typical challenges.

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Topics: Sales Force Sizing, Resource Planning

Posted by George de los Reyes

George de los Reyes
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