ID's 2017 Salary Report - Sales & Sales Management

As this third and final part of our series, see the Sales/Sales Management respondents' survey results and analysis from ID's 2017 Salary Report, which shows salary and compensation levels among our readership, and how those respondents feel about it.

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Industrial Distribution is excited to once again share our annual Salary Report, based on the results of our survey we conducted of our readership in June. It’s one of ID’s most popular and discussed content items of the year, and serves as a benchmark for the market for data on salary and compensation.

Our report funnels respondents’ data into three separate pools based on their job function — Executives (Owner, Chairman, CEO, CFO, CIO, COO, President or Vice President); Non-Sales Mid-Level Management (Product, Operations, Branch and/or Purchasing); and Sales Representative/Manager. Respondents’ companies range from small, family-run shops to large distributors on ID’s Big 50 List. For the results of each write-in question based on salary and benefits, obvious outliers that would significantly skew the overall result were omitted. All financial figures are in U.S. dollars.

With more than 330 respondents, our 2017 Salary Report is ID’s biggest turnout since we began the feature, and more than 20 percent bigger than 2016. Our 2017 split came in at 33 percent executives, 28 percent mid-level management and 39 percent sales rep/sales manager. Eighty-nine percent of respondents were male.

Online, we're posting this report as a three-part series. See the results of our survey's sales & sales management group below. See the results of the executive group here, and our mid-level management group here.

Like the mid-level management group, our 2017 sales/sales management group surprisingly is considerably older than in 2016, bucking the stats that suggest Millennials and Gen X employees are comprising a growing percentage of distribution jobs. The amount of our 2017 respondents who are at least 60 years old grew 11 percentage points year-over-year to more than 28 percent, while those aged 50-59 years old ticked up about 1.5 points to 33 percent. Only 17 percent of our sales respondents are under the age of 40 — down six points from our 2016 survey. While this has to be a sense of pride for those long-time industry veterans, it’s also a sign of concern that more than 28 percent of our respondents are at or near retirement age. That’s a lot of shoes to fill fairly soon.

Not meant as a put-down, but our sales group is typically the least educated out of our three pools, and this year’s results validated that fact further. The amount of our sales respondents who say they have no college education has ticked up steadily in recent years, from 8.5 percent in 2014 to 11.5 percent this year. Forty percent of this year’s group doesn’t have a college degree, down a point year-over-year. In comparison, only 33 percent of our 2015 group didn’t have a college degree.

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Some other demographic stats from our 2017 sales group:

  • 87 percent are male — this is identical to our 2016 survey, consistent with 2014’s 88 percent and shows that 2015’s 97 percent male statistic was more or less a one-year anomaly
  • The largest chunk — 39 percent — work for companies with at least $500 million in annual sales; 23 percent are at companies with less than $25 million in sales; 23 percent are at companies with $25-100 million in sales; and 14 percent are at companies with $100-500 million in sales
  • 31 percent are located in the Midwest; 28 percent are in the South; 19 percent are in the West; 17 percent are in the Northeast; and 4 percent are outside the U.S.

Travelling is synonymous with most salespeople, in almost any industry. Our survey indicates this year’s sales group travelled more often than the past two years. Fifty-five percent of this year’s group say they spend at least 20 percent of their job time travelling — up 10 points from our 2016 survey. Thirty-five percent travel 20 to 50 percent of the time, and more than 20 percent travel more than 50 percent of the time. The amount who say they don’t travel at all has declined steadily in recent years, from 17 percent in 2014 to less than 10 percent this year.

The amount of sales respondents who work on commission has increased steadily over the last four years, from 49 percent in 2014 to 55 percent this year. Ninety-four percent of our sales group respondents say they receive a base salary, and of them, the average salary is $90,000 — up considerably from 2016’s $75,000. That $90,000 figure may seem high, but keep in mind that 39 percent of our sales respondents’ companies do more than $500 million in annual revenue. Ninety-five percent of this year’s group say they receive additional compensation, with the average amount being $25,500. But when eliminating two major high outliers, that average comes down to $19,400 — which is still a good bump from the $17,600 of our 2016 group.

The amount of this year’s sales respondents who say they faced a salary or benefits cut — 20 percent — is identical to the year before, while the amount who didn’t receive a raise in the past year took a 12-point drop to 40 percent.

The amount of sales group respondents who say their job demands increased in the past year dropped 14 points year-over-year to 66 percent from 2015 to 2016, but that figure jumps back up eight points this year to 74 percent. On the bright side, 61 percent of this year’s group feel they are faced with adequate job growth opportunities at their company — up nine points from the 2016 group.

Only 60 percent of our 2015 sales group said they feel fairly compensated, but that figure grew two points the next year and more than four points this year to top 66 percent. That stat’s recent high was 72 percent in 2014.

More than half of the comments from our sales group indicate they should be compensated more. Here’s a collection of what this group has to say:

  • “New title, more hours of work and away from home and job responsibility and no increased compensation.”
  • “I am paid on performance. They have given me the tools and I am managing to perform.”
  • “Wish I had more base for added security. Market swings make for a stressful environment.”
  • “It's the old story — too much work, too little time for too little money.”
  • “I am paid a fair base and a fair bonus structure with a company car and good benefits.”
  • “Someone of my experience and expertise should be making approximately double what I make.”
  • “10 years without any form of a pay raise. Would you feel fairly compensated?”
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