You hear it within any sales organization structure: AE…SE…BDR…SDR. What are all these sales titles, and what do they even mean?
If you’ve ever found yourself walking in circles trying to understand what makes up a sales team, what each role does, and what all these different acronyms stand for—you’re not alone.
The sales organization structure can be complex at first glance, but once you have a better understanding of the typical roles that make up a sales organization, you’ll soon understand how they work together to build sales pipeline and keep money flowing into the business.
So if you’re new to sales or are just curious about what a successful sales team structure looks like, read on as we take you through everything you need to know about a sales organization structure.
- 1. What is a Sales Organization?
- 2. The Roles Within a Successful Sales Organization Structure
- 2.1 Customer Facing Sales Organization Roles
- 2.1.1 Account Executives
- 2.1.2 Sales Development Representatives
- 2.1.3 Solutions Engineers
- 2.2 Support Roles within a Sales Organization
- 2.2.1 Sales Operations
- 2.2.2 Sales Enablement
- 2.3 Management Roles within a Sales Organization
- 2.3.1 Sales Management
- 3. Creating a Sales Team that Works Together
What is a Sales Organization?
With buyer behaviour changing and competition rising, sales team members are expected to adapt by becoming specialists who are experts at one or two things.
When multiple specialists are put into a team, it forms a sales organization. This kind of organization is responsible for bringing revenue into a business.
The Roles Within a Successful Sales Organization Structure
The sales organization structure can be broken down into three core groups:
- Customer Facing
Customer Facing Sales Organization Roles
Let’s start off by going through the most common customer-facing role in a business-to-business (B2B) sales team: Account executives.
There are many names for an account executive: trusted advisor, business development manager, territory manager, and sometimes even VP of sales. At the end of the day, it’s all the same job.
Account executives (AEs) typically meet with potential clients to do the discovery, demo their product or service, project manage the deal, and negotiate the terms.
The role of an account executive is to be a trusted advisor. I try to understand the problem, assess it, and then find the solution. I want to be an extension of my customer’s team.
Stephanie BritoSoftChoiceTerritory Sales Supervisor
Sales Development Representatives
Sales development representatives (SDRs) are often interchangeable with business development representatives (BDRs). However, there are organizations where SDRs handle outbound leads and BDRs handle inbound leads.
If this is the case, outbound SDRs use a mix of cold calling, emailing, LinkedIn messaging, and video prospecting. While inbound BDRs handle prospects who reached out to the company themselves.
SDRs and BDRs can make upwards of 150 calls a day and sometimes have to deal with getting hung up on by prospects. It’s a tough job, but it can be really exciting when the opportunity strikes to have that conversation.
That said, SDRs and BDRs have the same goal: Qualify their prospects, and if all are in agreement, book them a meeting with an AE.
Solutions consultants (SCs) or solutions engineers (SEs) are less common and often associated with more technical things. The role, however, is not uncommon in SaaS sales.
SEs typically focus more in the trenches with sales representatives (sales reps) or AEs. They build up the demo or proof of concept that’s presented to whoever the decision makers are.
SEs are usually brought in when there’s already been a connection made and take them from their initial interest to a deeper dive to discover and understand their goals and challenges.
Support Roles within a Sales Organization
Now, let’s go behind the scenes of the sales world: The support roles.
Sales operations (sales ops) tend to work like the engine of the sales organization—they keep the revenue team running. Without sales ops, the sales train will fall apart and malfunction. Nobody wants that!
On the data end of things, sales ops looks at where the sales team is trending, what they’re currently doing, and if there
’s anything that needs improvement. The rest of the role focuses on tech stacks. Sales ops aims to ensure that all the different tech tools used by the sales team are used in a way that talk to one another.
In a sales ops role, you have to be strategic and think about the go-to-market strategy that best fits the company. It’s not uncommon that sales ops also have to know the finance numbers as they can take part in the budgeting, spending, and ROI.
Another critical support is the sales enablement role. By working with sales leadership, sales ops, and the marketing team, they take a look at what skills sales reps have or what skills they don’t have that they’ll need to succeed. Sales enablement also looks at how these sales reps use the sales team’s tools to achieve optimal productivity.
Sales enablement support includes:
- Product and positioning updates
- Learning resources
- Intel about competition
When you’re in sales enablement, you want to be thinking about scalability and effectiveness of your team. Make sure they feel supported to bring your solution to customers all over the world.
Kevin O’HearnMcGraw HillDirector Sales Training and Enablement
Management Roles within a Sales Organization
The management team structure will usually depend on the size and maturity of the sales team. Still, there tends to be several managers who report to a director of sales.
The goal of sales management is to ensure they can grow the company. This means they need to find enough new customers to hire a sales team and have them close deals.
Key thing is balancing how many salespeople you need to grow the business and close enough new customers to bring in new revenue for the whole company.
Dan WardleVidyardVP of Revenue
On smaller teams, management might take on some of the supporting roles like sales op or enablement. While larger teams might have the management team focused solely on managing the sales organization.
Sales management roles usually focus on the following:
- Setting goals and budget
- Evaluating tools and software
- Providing coaching and training
- Managing relationships with other departments
- Setting expectations
It’s the responsibility of sales management to be crystal clear of what the sales team can do. This means ensuring everyone on the team is aligned with things such as sales forecasting and costs. After all, the rest of the company makes decisions based on the information shared by the sales department.
Creating a Sales Team that Works Together
And just like that, you now know everything about a sales organization. Everyone in the ecosystem of the sales team plays a key part in keeping the money flowing into a business.
If you want to scale your team’s sales strategy even more, and haven’t had the chance to adopt video yet, then what are you waiting for? Take your team to greater heights and start convincing your sales team to start using video.