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How Do I Staff My Sales Team?

How to avoid burning out your top salespeople.

How many salespeople do you have on your team? Do they all sell the same amount, or are one or two folks responsible for being the chief rainmakers? Most CI businesses rely on their owners to sell most of the new business coming in the door while some have successfully transitioned to moving the owner away from selling and into, you know, running the business.

Salespeople – Getty
Getty Images

My company, Livewire, is between two worlds right now. I don’t sell nearly as much as I did in the beginning, but all we’ve done is shift that same mega burden onto the shoulders of two key people. That’s not fair to them. It’s created a stressful environment that’s all come to a head over the last few months as burnout and months of stress have taken their toll on our team. We’ve decided to chart a different course. Just because someone can sell nearly $2 million a year on their own doesn’t mean the company should count that amount in its annual forecasting. Instead, we’ve decided to adopt a new plan where our salespeople are free to sell as much as they want, but we’re going to staff based on a baseline commitment vs. their max.

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I’m hoping our new strategy will help relieve stress for our top performers while at the same time bring in some new talent into the organization. If no one person is accountable for more than $1 million per year, that means we’ll have to look at our headcount a little differently. We’ve benefited tremendously from the talents of our $1 million+ guys, which has simultaneously given us a bit of a blind spot when it comes to adding headcount.

As we look toward the back half of 2021 and ahead to 2022, it’s apparent we’ve got some work to do, including recruiting some junior salespeople who may take a year to get up to full speed. Where will we find those folks? I’m hoping as we continue to mandate time in the field for new hires that we’ll see candidates emerge from the ranks of our installation and service teams who want to try something new. I realize this might mean we take another look at how we pay our junior sales talent as we try out this new way forward. We’ll need to add our new team members in a way that’s profitable for them and the company’s bottom line.

Here’s an illustration of how a 2022 forecast might look using this new model:

2022 Example Sales Department
Title Baseline Goal
Senior Sales Consultant $1,000,000
Senior Sales Consultant $1,000,000
Senior Sales Consultant $1,000,000
Junior Sales Consultant $500,000
Junior Sales Consultant $500,000
Junior Sales Consultant $500,000
Junior Sales Consultant $500,000
Total $5,000,000

If one of our senior sales staff wants to sell $2 million, no problem! They can continue to have no comp limits and the company can staff in a way that distributes the load and gives us a much more solid foundation.

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The biggest win here is quality of life for our key people. It’s not right that we’ve expected so much from them for so long and staffed to redline the engine. For that I’m truly sorry and humbled to work with such great people.

If you have one or two people generating most of your revenue, are you worried about burnout or turnover down the road? Why not get rolling today with bringing a junior salesperson on board and investing in their success?

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.