line staff sales organization

Line and Staff Sales Organization: Definition, Pros, and Cons

What is Line and Staff Sales Organization?

Line and staff sales organization is the combination of line and functional organizational structures that has been set to achieve a balanced success between the chain of command and functional specialists. Top executives/managers are mostly based on setting sales plans and staff (specialists) are responsible to bring it into reality. This sales organization structure best fits large and medium-sized firms.

When firms start growing in terms of substantial numbers of sales personnel, divers& product lines, wide geographic area coverage, there needs a group of specialists such as:

  • Experts in dealer and distributor relations.
  • Experts in sales analysis.
  • Experts in the sales organization.
  • Experts in sales personnel management.
  • Experts in sales planning, sales promotion, sales training, services, traffic, warehousing, and similar fields.

These professionals assist top sales executives in conserving their time and freeing them from overly intricate tasks. These staff specialists assist in boosting the department’s effectiveness if the top executive does not have prior training knowledge to address certain challenges.

By delegating problem analysis to staff executives, the top executive saves time for planning and dealing with higher-priority matters. Only the top-level executive has the authority to provide orders or directives to the salespeople on the ground. The top sales executive receives staff recommendations. If such recommendations are approved by the top sales executives, the staff sales execution transmits necessary instructions to the line organization.

Structure of the Line and Staff Sales Organizational Structure

Structure of Line and Staff Sales Organization

In this sales organization structure, the general sales manager, advertising manager, and manager of marketing research submit their reports separately to the vice-president or in charge of marketing.

All six subordinates submit their individual reports to the general sales manager. These reports are forwarded to the vice president in charge of marketing. Here, the assistant general sales manager is the only one line executive. The director of sales training is the sales personnel director, the sales promotion manager and the directors of dealers and distributors are the four to shoulder responsibilities in their specialized fields.

However, the assistant to general sales manager is a staff executive who is given more general assignments, other four assistant specialists are assigned line authority by the immediate boss. The assistant general sales manager also performs assignments of a line nature.

Sales personnel work under branch sales managers and the latter ones are responsible to district sales managers. All these three are under the assistant sales manager.

Suitability of the line and staff sales organization:

  • It is widely used in large and medium-sized firms since the line and staff functions are correlated in this type of sales organization structure.

Pros and Cons of Line and Staff Sales Organization

Pros/Advantages/Strengths

  • It focuses on specialization.
  • The chief sales executive can take a broader view of the department because he/she is relieved from much detailed work.
  • Specialized sales executives present appearing problems with a clear vision that pave a good path for solving these problems correctly.
  • A pool of experts advises and assists the general sales manager in their respective specialized fields that help in the sales planning and developing sales policies.
  • It helps to subdivide and apportion planning activities to staff members that certainly assist sales planning.
  • The top executive gets the opportunity to concentrate on the control and coordination of subordinates.
  • Staff members also try their best to solve problems in their areas.

Cons/Disadvantages/Weaknesses

  • Since the work of the staff specialists must be coordinated, this organization becomes costly.
  • If the number of staff executives is not kept in line with departmental needs, other administrative expenses certainly increase.
  • It is difficult to prevent some persons from evading unwanted responsibilities if staff people issue instructions directly to line executives.
  • The time between problem recognition and corrective action tends to widen because staff executives are given time to study problems before making recommendations to decision-makers.
  • When salespeople make decisions from different sources, confusion may result as to whose instructions to follow.

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