Just as in basketball, the top players on your sales team wouldn’t be able to perform their best without support players backing them up. And, according to research by consulting company McKinsey, about half of the people in top-performing sales teams are in support roles.
McKinsey analyzed sales data from 40 tech-related companies to determine the optimal number of sales support and management — from sales operation and administration to customer-facing support.
The findings, which were reported in a Harvard Business Review article, revealed that the top 25 percent of companies had a sales ROI twice the amount of the bottom 25 percent. It also revealed that these high-performing companies had a 30 percent higher level of sales support than the other companies in the study.
The McKinsey report concluded that the balance can’t swing too low or too high. It recommended that companies dedicate 50 percent to 60 percent of its sales employees to support functions. In comparison, most companies with lower sales ROI devoted less than 30 percent of their sales staff to support roles.
Too many support roles can also have negative consequences: Companies with 60 percent to 80 percent of their sales team dedicated to support roles were in the bottom 75 percent of sales ROI.
The researchers also find that it was important to focus on the composition of the sales support team. The top-performing sales organizations had about the same percentage (30 percent) of customer-facing support as other organizations. However, they had twice the percentage of operations and administrative support as other companies— 27 percent compared to 12 percent.
There were discrepancies with managerial roles as well. The analysis revealed that the top-performing sales teams had a 8:1 non-manager to manager ratio compared to non-manager to manager ratios greater than 10:1 or lower than 5:1 among the other organizations.
The McKinsey research also noted that using digital solutions to streamline the sales process also was an effective tool in boosting sales ROI.
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