How Many People Can a Sales Manager Manage?

The Executive Board says 8. But is that number right for you?

The number 8 has a lot to do with how sales managers spend their time, according to the Sales Leadership Council. The study shows that most sales managers are able to set aside 8 hours every week for coaching. Since the standard for adequate coaching is 3-5 hours per rep per month and there are 4 weeks in every month, managers should have time for 8 reps.

Not so fast, though. The last thing you want to do is risk sacrificing the quality of your sales management. Here are the variables at play that could lower the number of reps you can manage effectively:

Variable #1: How you prioritize sales coaching

According to a study by Sales Benchmark Index, sales reps who report receiving more than 3 hours of coaching per month exceed their goals by 7% on average. Reps who are coached for 3 hours or fewer each month underperform by a significant margin.

Find the balance between spending enough time coaching your reps so they hit their goals, and leaving time for the rest of your activities. If that means managing fewer than 8 reps, then reorganizing your team could be worth it.

Variable #2: Whether your team uses CRM or a data analytics tool

Sales teams that use these tools work much more efficiently than sales teams that don’t. When reps are able to track and analyze opportunities themselves using CRM and data analytics, they can work more autonomously and your 1:1 coaching meetings will be much more high-level.

These tools also help you measure your reps’ activities and performance – the better you are able to track these numbers, the more sales reps you will be able to manage.

CRM services like and data analytics tools like InsightSquared give you that time back to invest into coaching your team, improving your sales process, and making high-level decisions.

Variable #3: How much training you’ve had as a sales manager

It’s simple – if you’re a new sales manager, your capacity for managing sales reps is lower than a much more experienced sales manager. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a big team if you’re new to the game – instead, hone your coaching skills with fewer than 8 reps to start, and gradually work your way up.

We think 8 is a great maximum number of reps for an experienced sales manager using CRM and data analytics. But make sure you’re leaving room to give much-needed time to advancing your reps’ professional development through coaching and educational tools. After all, that’s the biggest part of your job description!

How many reps do you think sales managers can handle? What other variables do you think are at play?