Sales Force Sizing: Do I have Enough Feet on the Street?

July 18, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Q3 is fast approaching.  Soon, sales leaders will be given their revenue targets for 2013.  That’s when things start getting interesting!  If you want to hit your number, you need to figure out where you should allocate your people, money and time in 2013.  The question Sales Force Sizing answers is around people: “Do I have enough feet on the street?”

In our work with clients we often find them implement what we call the “peanut butter spread” method of allocating headcount.  This is how it works:

  • Mr. CEO gives his VP of Sales a revenue number for the year
  • The VP of Sales divides that number by the average Rep Quota from the previous year
  • Presto, you have your headcount number

Peanut Butter Spread resized 600

Sound familiar?  Take this approach and you will most likely miss your number in 2013.  Why?  Because this way too generic approach inevitably results in uneven, unpredictable and insufficient quota attainment.   At this point, not only the CEO is calling the sales leader, but the CFO as well.  In his eyes, your Revenues don’t justify your Cost of Sales; and talk of a reduction in force starts to circulate.

Fortunately, there is a better way to determine headcount.  Here are two…

Top-Down Approach: Territory Market Potential

A top-down approach is based on Territory Market Potential and aligns headcount accordingly.  This approach considers the following:

  • Number of territories
  • Number of prospects within those territories
  • The revenue potential those territories represent based historical spends of other customers that look like those proposects
  • Specific dimensions that determine what is required to work the given territory (Ex: geographical density, facility size, rep workload)

Bottom-Up Approach: Workload Analysis

The bottom-up approach, sometimes called the workload analysis method, augments the top-down approach by considering inputs such as:

  • Number of Target Accounts
  • Call frequency
  • Annual Call Volume
  • Rep Capacity

Together, these metrics help a sales leader properly size their sales force to match market potential.  The infographic below illustrates how the Workload Analysis works.

Bottoms up Approach resized 600

Call to Action

It’s not too early to start thinking about 2013.  Do you have enough feet on the street to meet the market demand?  Accurately answering this question is critical if you want to hit your revenue goals.

Want to know how your peers are allocating their people, money and time in 2013?  Register for SBI’s 6th Annual Make the Number tour here.

Make the Number resized 600

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Topics: Territory Design, Sales Force Sizing, Resource Planning

Posted by George de los Reyes

George de los Reyes
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