Holding steady. That is what responses to our annual Sales Representative salary survey show in 2019. Total compensation has ticked up slightly, and experienced sales reps remain in very high demand, but as mergers and acquisitions reshape the industry, sales reps have grown more cautious about seeking out new positions.
Respondents to this year’s salary survey report total compensation increased on average to $117, 872 — $808 more than last year. Despite abundant opportunities to move up, sales reps are “waiting to see how things shake out,” said Jessica Crowley, business development manager and senior recruiter at Copier Careers.
Because it takes time for mergers or acquisitions to affect day-to-day operations, Crowley said it’s too early to know the effect on individuals. “They want to see how it’s going to evolve and how it would affect their position and compensation. It’s creating uncertainty.”
Even with churn in the industry, the market for sales reps is red hot. With more jobs than top sales candidates, dealers are enforcing non-compete agreements and making counteroffers more frequently, said Paul Schwartz, president of Copier Careers.
“It’s just a very tight market, right now,” Schwartz said. “That’s actually a good place to be, because it creates opportunities to advance, especially for experienced sales reps.
2019 Sales Representative Salary Survey
Over the past 17 years, Copier Careers, the only nationwide recruiting firm devoted exclusively to the Copier Channel, has conducted annual salary surveys for key positions in the industry, including service technicians, service and operations managers and sales managers. In 2011, we added a salary survey for copier sales representatives. This year 10,676 Copier Channel sales representatives from across the industry participated in our survey.
Copier Sales Representatives by the Numbers
Responses to this year’s survey show that sales reps self-identified across seven job titles in almost the same percentages as in last year’s survey. The largest number work as MPS/Solutions sales reps (36.3 percent), Named Account Managers (18.7 percent) and Account Executives (18.7 percent).
Even with some uncertainty about what to expect after mergers and acquisitions, the industry continues to expand, dealers have found niches for their products and services that give them a solid client base. But to keep up with organic business growth — and to continue to expand the business — staffing needs will have to be met.
“With all these industry mergers and acquisitions, if you’re not growing, you’re dying,” Schwartz said. “So, when we find a rock star sales rep, a dealer would be absolutely remiss not to talk with that person, because rock stars can make a big difference in a
dealer’s bottom line.”
In 2019, base salaries, commissions and quotas were slightly higher than those reported in last year’s survey. At $49,600 the average base salary of 2019 survey respondents compares favorably with the average salary ($48,380) of sales reps across the country, as reported by payscale.com.
Sales reps who identify themselves as Major Account Managers, Government Account Managers and National Account Managers have an average base salary of $59,492, which also compares favorably with the average base for technical sales reps ($60,777), as compiled by payscale.com.
Compensation Ticks Up Slightly in 2019
In this year’s survey, respondents reported that their base salary and total compensation increased slightly over last year, making it the fourth consecutive year that compensation has remained steady or increased for sales professionals.
- The average base salary across all job titles was $49,600, up $508 from last year
- The average sales rep commission was $68,271, up $129 from 2018
- The average total compensation was $117,782, an increase of $808
“For now, those incremental increases seem to be fine with many sales reps,” Crowley said. In recruiting calls, sales reps tell her that they are happy where they are right now. “Unless something happens in their current work situation, a sales rep isn’t going to return a phone call about a new opportunity.
“If there is a management change, compensation change, territory change, those are scenarios why an individual would be open to making a move,” Crowley said. But she noted that some longtime employees uncomfortable with recent cultural shifts in their organizations also may be or may become interested in moving on — as long it is a good fit for them and financially feasible.
“There is some frustration for sales reps about whether their company has really evolved and truly embraced selling solutions.”
In the current marketplace, Copier Channel sales reps are taking their time and carefully considering their options. Beyond mergers and acquisitions, they are looking for companies that are truly evolved in the IT sphere. That means their company and
quota aren’t focused on selling hardware but on selling solutions.
“If a sales rep has a quota of $30,000 of hardware a month, and if managers are on them to hit their hardware quota, how can they evolve to selling solutions, where the money is?” Crowley said. “There is some frustration for sales reps about whether their company has really evolved and truly embraced selling solutions.
“The margins are so slim on hardware sales. Solutions are where the money is,” she said. “Sales reps understand that if you focus on selling solutions, the hardware is going to fall naturally into selling solutions.”
“What we know for sure is that change is hard, and in the Copier Channel it shows no sign of letting up.”
Another Landscape to Explore
In 2019, the Copier Channel has weathered more than a decade of rapid change in which it evolved into an IT- based industry. It now faces new challenges. With its exponential growth in recent years, this once steady, niche industry has attracted the interest of venture capitalists, and that is changing almost everything.
Recent mergers and acquisitions are transforming every part of selling and delivering services. It has shaken up the industry, where old assumptions, relationships and compensation are being rethought and renegotiated.
“It’s kind of a classic situation. We don’t know how it’s going to turn out yet,” Schwartz said. “What we know for sure is that change is hard, and in the Copier Channel it shows no sign of letting up.
“A lot of people who watch the industry say that the mass of mergers and acquisitions is over, because the kind of entities that were most attractive have been acquired,” he said. “So, there’s less of a pool to pick from, but we are going to see these changes continue.”
Amid all the change, the business of the Copier Channel rolls on. Sales are made and services are delivered, but there is some nagging tension about how it all shakes out for those who sell and deliver services — now and in the future.
“No one knows the end-game for these venture capitalists,” Schwartz said. “At what point do they get tired of owning these entities? What kind of returns are they expecting, and what will happen if they aren’t met? No one has the answer yet. It’s a wait-and-see proposition.”
A Key Partner for Business
“This is an essential industry that continues to evolve and thrive, get larger and create more solutions,” Schwartz said. “It is a key partner in the business market, and that is its strength. It’s not going away.”
That is why Schwartz and Crowley say it’s a great time to grow skills and evolve with the industry, because a talented sales rep will always be able to find a place to thrive. Of course, the “hunter sales rep,” who brings in net-new business is always the top recruiting target, but there is need across the industry for sales reps in every job category.
“Sales reps have to accept new ideas and concepts. It’s not just pushing boxes anymore,” Schwartz said. “Those things have evolved and changed, but the core essence of a good sales rep has not changed.”
And what is the core essence of a sales professional?
“They are money-motivated and success-oriented,” Crowley said. “And to succeed in the current marketplace they need to be open to the next big thing.”
Recruiters at Copier Careers are also focused on success by vetting and finding a great fit for experienced candidates or a fabulous sales rep for an evolved dealer or organization.
“We know where the opportunities are, and our deep knowledge of the field helps us find great candidates,” Crowley said. “But dealers need to know that with scarce candidates, it’s really important to hire when a strong candidate is open to offers — because they won’t be available for long.”
“The trajectory is still going up for business growth, solutions and profits.”
Thriving in a Time of Constant Change
As the industry collectively takes a moment to see what comes next, it’s also the perfect time to take stock and adapt. For sales reps, it’s an opportunity to evaluate their needs, identify their goals and prepare for changes in the industry.
“Sales reps are at a spot where they’re not ready to make a move, because the changes are still happening,” Crowley said. “Now more than ever, it’s challenging to find individuals open to discussing a new opportunity.”
With demand this strong, it’s an ideal time for sales reps to move up to a dream job, because dealers are seriously looking for talent. Instead of resisting or dreading change, this is the time to embrace it and ride the wave of growth in the industry.
“If you are evolving as a sales rep or as a company, this is an exciting to time to be in the business, because the trajectory is still going up for business growth, solutions and profits,” Schwartz said. “This industry just keeps growing, and that’s a very good thing.”
Certainly, mergers and acquisitions are reshaping the industry, but the Copier Channel has navigated rocky terrain before and come out a winner — and in a better place. It has evolved into an industry that most businesses can’t live without. Mergers and acquisitions won’t change that. The industry is on solid ground and continuing to grow.
One online poll respondent summed up what motivates many in the industry, even in a time of change. “Accomplishment is motivation. It is a team effort to make all this happen. And when you are part of team and not out for yourself, great things happen.”
Indeed, the Copier Channel is a place where great things continue to happen. -CC
Our Other 2019 Salary Surveys
In Case You Missed It
- 2019 Copier Tech Salary Survey
- 2019 Sales Manager Salary Survey
- 2019 Service & Operations Manager Salary Survey
Copier Careers® is a recruiting firm dedicated exclusively to helping Copier Channel employers find experienced service techs, copier sales reps, sales managers, service & operations managers, controllers, back-office staff and MPS/MNS experts. Learn more about our commitment to the Copier Channel at CopierCareers.com or call 888-733-4868 to talk with a recruiter.