It now seems like a distant memory, but it was only a few short years ago that MPS came onto the scene. And those early days were tough on sales reps. Comp plans were mind-bogglingly complicated and earnings were unpredictable. Back in 2011, only 26 percent of copier channel sales reps said they were happy with their compensation plans, and many struggled to keep their clients happy as their organizations worked through the financial and technical challenges of providing MPS and MNS services.
What a difference five years makes. MPS and MNS have matured to the point that they are now the undisputed foundation of this industry, and copier channel sales professionals have never been happier with their compensation or more satisfied in their careers. They are making excellent money, enjoying long-term relationships with their employers and their clients, and anticipating continued success in an industry that shows no signs of slowing down. We’ve said it before, and we’ll undoubtedly say it again: now is an incredible time to be a copier channel sales professional.
The 2016 Sales Representative Salary Survey
For the past 14 years, Copier Careers—the copier channel’s leading recruiting partner—has conducted detailed annual salary surveys for service technicians, service & operations managers, and sales managers. In 2011, we added a fourth salary survey for copier sales representatives. This year, 10,259 copier channel salespeople participated in our survey—a new record.
The survey’s respondents work at organizations of all types and sizes. Together, they comprise 1,938 Account Executives; 1,962 Named Account Managers, 1,020 Senior Account Executives; 1,009 Major Account Managers; 406 Government Account Managers; 303 National Account Managers; and 3,621 MPS/Solution Sales Representatives.
Incomes Still Healthy Despite Increased Competition
Over the past year, average annual base salary for copier sales professionals was $48,892, an increase of only $90 since 2015. Average commissions weighed in at $68,042, a decrease of $25 since our 2015 survey. That brings average total compensation to $116,934, for a year-over-year increase of only 1/20th of a percent. Since 2013, average overall compensation for copier sales reps has increased by less than .6 percent.
Across individual job titles, compensation has been similarly flat. This year, Major Account Managers reported the highest average income ($131,298), followed by Government Account Managers ($125,976), MPS/Solution Sales Representatives ($121,852), National Account Managers ($121,423), Senior Account Executives ($118,370), Named Account Managers ($109,741), and Account Executives ($89,880).
Given how little compensation has changed, it’s not surprising that quotas haven’t budged either. Account Executives report average monthly quotas of $37,649, a $6 decrease since last year. For MPS/Solution Sales Reps, quotas were $45,820 (an $822 increase since last year) and for Named Account Managers they were $59,998 per month (an $886 increase since last year).
“When MPS first came on the market, it had a huge impact on sales compensation in this industry,” says Jessica Crowley, Business Development Manager and Senior Recruiter for Copier Careers. “There were some initial growing pains due to the longer sales cycles, but once people had put in the work and started implementing MPS and MNS contracts, incomes shot up quickly and we saw big gains in 2012 and 2013. Today, reps who work for dealerships that have a good handle on their comp plans—which by now is the vast majority of dealerships—are typically very happy with their earnings.”
As for the slow rate of growth? Crowley believes that increased competition has driven down profit margins slightly, forcing reps to sell a bit more each year to make the same amount of money.
“While incomes haven’t risen significantly over the past couple of years, the reps we talk to are usually very optimistic about their earning potential. I think the overall feeling is that we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg on MPS and MNS, and any rep who is willing to put the work in is going to do well in this industry even as competition continues to increase.”
The Great Recruitment Dilemma
For many copier channel service providers, now would be a great time to bring on additional sales representatives, and many sales managers are attempting to do just that. There’s only one problem: hiring experienced, successful solution sales reps is currently very challenging, for a very simple reason: they’re already employed. They’re happily, gainfully employed, and they’re profiting from ongoing service contracts that they are understandably reluctant to walk away from.
“The people who already know how to sell solutions are currently experiencing phenomenal success,” says Paul Schwartz, president of Copier Careers. “MPS and MNS sales are very lucrative, and existing contracts continue to produce income for reps on an ongoing basis. It’s an ideal situation for sales professionals, and overall it’s been an incredible boost to this industry. As a result, successful people are staying with their employers for much longer than they used to, which is great for retention but challenging when it comes to recruiting. The high-producing, successful reps are just not really moving around right now, which makes it hard for dealerships to add experienced reps to their staff.”
Even in a tight hiring market, however, there are still a few tactics dealerships can employ to grow their sales staff. The first is hiring opportunistically when good candidates come along, regardless of whether there’s a current opening to fill.
“Hunter sales reps have always been a difficult position for employers to fill, but the problem has been exacerbated in the post-MPS era,” says Schwartz. “It’s typically really difficult for employers to find an experienced salesperson to hire at the exact moment they have a job opening. For that reason, we strongly advise employers to hire good candidates whenever they find them, regardless of whether they have a specific position they are trying to fill. We also advise employers to move quickly in these situations. When good reps come on the market, they don’t stay there for long—many get swooped up within a matter of days or even hours. The hiring market is that competitive right now.”
When experienced reps can’t be found, the other option is to hire promising people and train them to sell MPS. The challenge there, for many employers, is bridging the gap between their senior sales staff and their rookies.
“A lot of dealerships are in a situation where their sales teams are made up mostly of seasoned, senior sales staff,” says Crowley. “We’re at a point now, due to the tight hiring market, where dealerships are needing to bring on more junior people, and what some dealerships are finding is that it can be difficult to integrate the less-experienced reps into the culture of the existing sales team. Dealerships need to be able to count on their senior staff to take active leadership and mentoring roles to help the rookies learn the ropes. This can sometimes be a tough sell—senior reps are obviously very busy maintaining their own client relationships and building new ones—but it’s really essential for the overall strength of the team and the future of the organization.”
A Stable Year, a Bright Future
All in all, this year has been a good one for the industry at large as well as for the people who work in it. As solution sales have matured, sales reps have enjoyed continued success, stability, and job satisfaction. While sales numbers have effectively stagnated for the past several quarters due to competition and market forces, sales reps remain in excellent shape financially and are looking forward to a future marked by continued stability and sustainable growth. For both sales teams and individual reps, the challenge now is to stay hungry and continue to push forward into new territories. As always, technology marches on and brings with it new challenges and opportunities; meanwhile, a new generation of copier channel sales professionals is just getting started. With a lot of hard work and a little help from the people who know the ropes, they’ll be on the road to success in no time. -CC