This is how I felt when I finally figured out how much I was going to end up paying a good sales person.
And then I remembered a scene from one of my favorite Simpsons episodes.
LOU: Gee, chief, all those gears and motors must have cost a fortune!
CHIEF WIGGUM: Well, you gotta spend money to make money, Lou.
*sips coffee cup*
But in all seriousness, it takes money to attract really spectacular sales guys. In my earlier article on base salary plus 7-and-7, I glossed over the topic of salesperson’s salary giving only a range from $30,000 to $55,000. Which is a pretty huge range and deserves a little more attention on my part.
There are so many variables, like experience, location, cost of living, etc. that can cause salary expectations to range widely. With that said, there are ballpark figures to help you come up with a salary package that will attract superstar sales guys. Our experience has been that good salespeople expect a base salary in the range of $30,000-$45,000. In Atlanta, you will see many technology salespeople with base salaries around $50,000-$60,000.
But our experience is isolated to one market segment. I know there can be a wide range when setting base salaries. The U.S. Dept. of Labor shows the annual mean wage for sales reps in computer and design services in the $70,000-$80,000 range. On Quora, the going rate for sales guys in startups is suggested to be $80,000-$120,000 in big cities like New York and San Francisco.
The one mistake I’ve seen in many small companies is trying to get people at bargain prices. You have to remember: a really good salesperson can make upwards of $500,000 per year at a large organization. Luckily for you, a lot of sales guys don’t like to work for the big corporate empires, but they do want to make that kind of money. They would prefer making a decent (though smaller) living at a small corporation where they feel like a team member with the ability to have an impact in the company. But if you aren’t paying them enough to begin with, they will move on quickly, and you probably won’t get them in the first place.
I know there is a lot more at play in sales compensation packages than just the base salary. Most sales professionals earn the real money on commissions. But base salary is an important stepping stone to get your sales team where it needs to be so your company can grow. Indeed, you gotta spend money to make money.
For more helpful reading on setting sales salaries check out this article from Entrepreneur.com.