How Sales VP’s are Maximizing Span of Control in a Virtual World

November 30, 2012 at 7:00 AM

78% of Sales VPs during our research tour asked us the same question.  “What is the optimal Span of Control for their sales managers and themselves?” They are under pressure to perform in today’s virtual world.

Determining span of control is different today.  It requires some new fundamentals to properly calculate it. But before we can address the new virtual world, we should review the 5 basic fundamentals that directly affect SPOC (Span of Control):

 sales rep span of control

Measuring and improving these 5 fundamentals will allow you to properly determine SPOC.  And the implications from this data will help eliminate unnecessary tasks.  This is the garbage that reduces selling time.

But what should you now do about the burdening task of managing all these sales people virtually?  Take the 5 fundamentals of understanding the proper Span of Control and add three more:

sales rep manager span of control

“Ok, I understand how to measure the fundamentals of SPOC.  But how do I execute on them?” Determining your Span of Control in your business requires two separate approaches:

  1. Assessment Approach - This requires a test through 4 lenses:  Customer, Field, Competition and your Executives.  These 4 enable commonality to be identified.  This is the qualitative part of the approach.
  2. Workload Analysis- This analysis measures the time managers  take to complete all activities.  It is structured around the definition of a sales managers role:
  • Sales Manager’s Hours worked
  • SM’s work constant between sales people
  • SM’s work varied between sales people
  • Annual work tied to the Amount of Sales People in the Sales Force
  • Annual work tied to the number of Customers

This quantitative analysis helps understand SPOC through a simple calculation.  It also identifies non value add tasks that can be eliminated from a SM’s role. 

Download a sample workload analysis to help get you started.

Now you combine the assessment and workload approach to determine an optimal SPOC.  Factor in the fundamentals mentioned above and you can roll out new SPOC’s.  This will increase productivity while reducing costs.

Call to Action:

  • Understand how to measure these fundamentals in your virtual sales force. 
  • Apply the two test methodology described to know what your optimal SPOC is for the sales force. Incorporating all divisions (Inside, Commercial and Strategic) will maximize productivity while saving cost.
  • Rollout the new SPOC considering certain qualitative factors.  Talent, tenure, history and accounts all play a part in the timeline.
  • Benchmark your competitors and peers.  What are their spans of control?  Can you beat them with less management yet more focus?

Having trouble understanding how to figure out the SPOC?  Seems complicated?  Email me for help.  We can help benchmark your peers/competitors, provide worksheets for the tests and recommend a SPOC for your company. 

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Topics: Sales Force Structure, Talent Management, Sales Leader, Director of Sales Resources

Posted by Dan Perry

Dan Perry
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