How to Structure a National Accounts Sales Team

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Corporations with national clients often need to create a national accounts sales team to service them. This is a group of highly skilled sales professionals with proven ability to bring in the company's sales revenue. Assembling the right team is critically important to the success of the company's sales machine, and ultimately, its profitability.

  • Interview candidates for the position of Director of National Accounts. Ideally, these should be individuals with at least 15 or more years of relevant experience in sales, either in the specific industry or an industry whose sales protocols mirror those required. This person should be a natural salesperson who likes the challenge of managing people rather than processes. Authority to hire the sales staff will fall to this individual who is the Captain of the team. It is important that the person has had experience managing the numbers of people that will be a part of the team. This person usually has a senior vice-president (Sr. VP) or executive vice-president (VP) title.

  • A high level Sales Operations Director executive acts as the go-between between the Director and sales managers. The Sales Operations Director will be a VP-level hire who works with sales managers to ensure that appropriate strategies and tactics are employed to assist sales managers in making their individual sales goal numbers.

    The Sales Operations Director is responsible for establishing the sales territory and assigning managers to handle clients in those territories.

  • Hire the foot soldiers of the national account sales team who are the sales managers. These are the people who have the day-to-day job of calling on clients, communicating the company's product offering, as well as writing up and submitting contracts internally. Sales managers are usually given cars and travel expenses, as they spend a great deal of time on the road.

  • Determine the philosophy for assigning managers territories. Usually a company will assign its best sales people to the most profitable geographic accounts. This philosophy, while protecting the revenue stream of the company, doesn't always work to improve the morale of sales managers stuck with poor performing territories, with little chance of making it to the top of the sales achievers list and the big performance bonuses.

  • Hire a competent Administrative Assistant to ensure the smooth operation of the Sales Operations office. This individual manages the calendar of both the Director and the Sales Operations Administrator.

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