Ah yes, spring has finally sprung.  It’s the time of year when a sales person’s fancy turns to thoughts of…compensation.

You’ve wrapped up the first quarter, and you now have a pretty good sense of your progress and of your prospects for 2011.  Fortunately, for many of us the recession has begun to recede, and buyers have begun to buy.   But that still does not answer the question, “How am I doing??”

There are lots of assumptions and maxims concerning sales compensation.  For example, we believe that top sales professionals should be making more money than their managers.  We’re pretty sure that sales people generally earn more than the people to whom they are selling.  And we know that everyone resents having to pay sales people – from senior management on down.

To examine some of these assumptions, I’ve extracted statistics from the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Report.  Here’s what I found:*

Type of Sales                Avg. Annual Comp        Avg. of Top 10%

Insurance                              $45,430                              $113,930

Wholesale & Mfg                  $51,330                              $106,040

Tech & Scientific Prod.        $73,056                              $150,577

Computer Sys./Related       $80,060                              $165,032

Sales Engineers                 $83,100                              $136,770

Securities, Commodities, Financial Svcs.

$68,680                               $172,000

Real Estate Agents              $40,150                                $101,860

Real Estate Brokers            $57,500                                $140,000

Ad. Sales Agents                 $43,440                                $ 93,600

Non-Tech. Mfg. Sales Mgrs.

$68,100                              $136,180

Tech. Sales Mgrs.                $97,260                              $162,000

Retail Sales Mgrs.               $35,310                               $65,170

Average individual income in the U.S. (2006, men and women) – $40,206

So what do all these numbers tell us?  First, it seems that our assumption that sales people make more than the average guy is generally true.  Reviewing the Average Annual Comp numbers, sales folk are almost always making more (and often dramatically more) than the average American.

Second, it also appears true that top sales people make more money than their managers.   In every case, the top 10% of sales performers are out-earning their bosses.

Perhaps this income disparity explains why senior management is so grumpy about paying y’all.  Because you can’t say it to them, I will:

Repeat after me: “NOTHING happens until somebody sells something, and somebody buys something.”  It’s simple really.

The best-conceived products in the world will collect dust on a shelf until someone figures out how to drive people to your Website.  Fantastic ideas will remain…ideas…until a sales person crafts a vision and allows your customers to share your passion.  Yes, your products must be good.  But market presence, market penetration and market share will all be driven primarily by your sales organization – the one group of people you can never do without.

As for you sales people, check out the figures listed above.  If you’re not in the top 10% of your industry, give me a call, and I will make sure you get there!