You are in the process of rolling out your FY13 Sales Plan and you might be wondering, do you have the right number of first line sales managers (FLSMs)? What is the right number? In most sales organizations the FLSMs handle some of the most important tasks and thus have a significant impact on the success of the sales force. They help recruit, on-board, train, coach, develop, co-sell, and performance manage the front line. They manage internal communications. They may also manage critical customer relationships. So do you have the right number of them? If you have too few, the ones you have are spread too thin and unable to effectively carry out all these duties. But too many is costly. Trim down the number of FLSMs a little and you easily fund several more reps, increasing your sales capacity.
The average FLSM has 8 ½ direct reports. But, the range is huge, stretching from as few as two to as many as thirty-eight. Here are five factors to consider when determining the right span of control for your FLSMs:
Here is a quick guide for B2B sales organizations based on the above factors and the Alexander Group’s benchmark database:Keep in mind these are guidelines and while helpful, the best answer will depend on your unique situation. The amount of experience the FLSM has is also a factor. More experienced FLSMs will be able to handle a larger span of control. And, some sales organizations use a “player/coach” model where the FLSM has a hybrid role both managing reps and also carrying an individual quota. This approach requires a lower span of control.
FLSMs spend an average of 16% of their time coaching. That’s only 4 hours in a 40 hour work week. Best practice is nearly double that figure at 28%. This delta is driven primarily by internal factors such as operational efficiencies and effective sales enablement. Where does your sales force stand? Contact the Alexander Group to learn how to benchmark your sales force against the market and best practice. We can also help you determine the right investment in FLSMs!
Original author: Paul Vinogradov