Why Sales People Are the Highest Paid Employees…

I speak with CEO’s and senior executives on a regular basis regarding compensation issues – especially when it comes to paying high powered sales leaders. While some CEO’s truly understand the reasons that successful sales performers should be highly compensated, many still just don’t get it. During this economic downturn, we are now beginning to wind out of, many of our clients are still engaging us on search assignments to find and place proven sales talent that can positively impact the revenue of the company. Let’s face it, nothing happens until something is sold. Good sales people make a lot of money! Period.

Back to my point. In my career, I have seen first hand how a compensation package designed for individual contributors and sales managers can really move the needle on the revenues of a company. There is constant pressure to drive revenue and organic growth, particularly with publicly traded companies who have to deal with shareholders and analysts who expect a return on their investment.

So the question is: Why do some CEOs struggle on paying high commissions and bonuses to those who meet and exceed their sales objectives? I have a few examples I have seen firsthand that just baffle me…

  • Sales People Don’t Deserve to Earn That Much Money: Selling is not hard work (yuk yuk), and sales people don’t deserve to make a lot of money while others are required to deliver goods and services or install products sold by the sales person. The sales guy makes the sale and dumps it in someone else’s lap to deal with and exits the scene. Correct (job well done). So what? Here’s the reality. Many people don’t have what it takes to be a successful salesperson. They wouldn’t even know where to start. Actually, they are better at beating up on those in sales than delivering their own value equation. Beat up on sales. Counterproductive? Jealous? Yep. Pure and simple.

I certainly don’t believe in paying something for nothing. Never. However, successful sales people need to be paid based on the value they deliver. If they over deliver – they should be overcompensated for the extra revenue and profit they created. Plain and simple. And for those who disagree with how sales people should be paid – I have some advice:

  1. Why don’t you try it. Suit up, ask for a territory and a quota and see how well you do. If you are really good, you will see how hard it can be to be in sales and why good sales people earn a lot of money. If you fall on your face, you will likely still find reasons why sales people earn too much.
  2. Get rid of all sales people in your company and just wait for the bottom to fall out. Trust me, it will. Wait. I know. Maybe customers will start calling YOU and begging YOU to sell them your goods and services. Yeah. That should work. NOT!

In the end – in sales, what gets measured gets done. Don’t make the carrot a joke when it comes to compensating sales people. They will figure it out and leave. If they are good – that could spell trouble. Pay sales people what they are worth and for the revenue they deliver, and your company will experience positive results for every employee, shareholder and for your customers. It works! Trust me.

FOT Background Check

Tim Tolan is a partner at Sanford Rose Associates and specializes in Executive Search in Healthcare IT. He's a closer, and you really don't want to call him unless you're ready to bring out the bazooka to bag some big game. When I started Fistful, I checked four references on Tim - his wife, his kids, his pastor and a client. The references were great, even if it sounded like they were reading from a sheet of paper. I just chalked that up to them being "detail oriented" in their feedback....


  1. Paul Hebert says:

    Having been in sales for 10 years and done pretty well I know it’s hard work. Hard, grinding work. If you’ve never been in sales it is hard to understand how you have to be “on” 24/7 with the client – even when you can’t stand them – or they are rude, insensitive, etc.
    But the one thing no one internally really gets is the risk involved with sales. No one has more risk associated with their job than a sales person. They have the benefit of money when they do well – and getting canned when they don’t. And they don’t have to do poorly very long before they are told to hit the bricks. Would anyone internally want that risk? Doubtful.
    Not to mention the transparency associated with sales performance. There are few if any jobs in any company (CEO included) with such transparent metrics on performance.
    Everyone in the company knows who’s selling and who isn’t. I don’t think many folks would like to have their performance review put up on the white board or on the company intranet.
    Sure – there are probably some folks that fall into big accounts or big sales – but those same folks could also be on their butt next quarter.
    It’s kinda like the character in “a few good men” – you want those sales people out there selling – and you want them to take the risk, and put up with company-wide criticism on performance – ‘cuz you can’t handle it.
    Walk a few months in a sales person’s shoes and you’ll understand the pressure, risk and the reward – of doing a very tough, tough job.

    • First says:

      Sales is not the hardest job nor incredibly tough, but I agree there is typically more risk. I don’t quite agree on the metrics that people use for pay in a corporate structure, but it just happens to be part of the ignorance that people develop or allow.

      My experience: UPS Supervisor, Mortgage Loan Officer, Telemarketer, Business Owner, Mechanical Design Engineer, Fast Food Manager, Bar Manager, Casino Cook, and more

      I have cold called, been 24/7 on my phone, and had a ton of risk. In my experience, the most undervalued asset a company has is the engineer. The most overvalued asset is usually the executive board. Next to that are the sales leaders. In essence, it has to deal with negotiation. Wile engineers are intelligent enough to bail when another opportunity comes up, they are not as capable at negotiating or willing to take the risk.

      One place I worked happened to have Application Engineers and Sales People working together. Application Engineers support the Sales people. While the engineers had a bit more job security, they did not get paid anywhere near the sales team. The application engineers were expected to perform in front of audiences while showing the software. This is far tougher than just giving a speech because your brain is working double duty and the preparation is 12 times longer. Engineers typically worked 60 to 70 hours a week while sales people hardly worked the 40 h/wk one would expect. In short, a new sales person worked like crazy until they settled in. The engineers however, continually drove the crappy cars and continually worked crazy hours to help the sales team make sales. It isn’t fair, but life isn’t fair either.

      In fact, it’s all about what you can negotiate and there’s no better way to train that skill than to do sales. Anyways, anybody saying that sales is tough, isn’t doing it right. Sales isn’t tough, it’s a mind game and you’re either good at it or you suffer. See Belefont

  2. Dawn Hrdlica @dawnHRrocks says:

    Working for a sales driven company (direct mail advertising no less)—I can say:
    **Sales is HARD
    **Sucessful sales reps deserve to make TONS of money for the risk they take on. Operative word is successfull…
    **Don’t knock it till you try it…
    **If your C-Suite doesn’t get that—-best look for another place to work because you have officialy fallen into a rabbit hole where up is down and down is up…..

  3. Tim Tolan says:

    Paul and Dawn: I agree! Sales is very hard, risky and not a cakewalk by any means. Companies that don’t get that will always be behind the curve in revenue growth, retention of revenue producing sales professionals and in keeping and market share. Pay ’em well! Always! Thanks for your post.

  4. Thank you.. very well put. I was laid off from my last sales position and when I went for over a year with not finding a new position, I made the bold move to start my own company.
    Here’s what I found: Companies either weren’t hiring sales at all or were hiring commission only sales people. I may be in the minority, but I think companies who don’t pay a base salary to their sales people essentially are discrediting the profession. I’ve been a sales professional for way too long to give my expertise away. Sales is more than “order taking”.. there’s a lot involved in developing and maintaining the relationship, etc.
    My other current “ire” with companies was brought up in a conversation with my husband who is also in sales.. he had a great year last year – one of the top earners. His reward? Being told that he made “too” much money and that the bonus structure was being changed. (Insert Captain Obvious statement here).. well, if he made a lot of money, doesn’t that mean you, the company, did as well??
    I agree, Tim.. all the non-sales folks out there who think our job is easy and overpaid.. grab a territory, go out there & let’s see how you do.

  5. Brian W. says:

    I don’t really see why this argument is only being directed towards salespeople. If you deliver vastly more than your peers, you should be paid vastly more. The department you’re in shouldn’t matter. It just happens that sales performance tends to be easier to quantify than other positions.

    • Alan says:

      You sir, are obviously an idiot.

      • Folwarr says:

        What kind of idiotic reply is that? Brian’s comment is spot on. Here’s proof that you are the fool, Alan. Your post added nothing to the topic and didn’t even challenge Brian’s comment. Some people…no wonder our society is in such a shit state.

    • Garrett K says:

      I partially agree… however, most sales positions are based solely on commission. Most other positions are based on salary or hourly. While I do agree that for the latter position there should be SOME bonus structure set in place, there’s a FAAAAR greater downside with a sales position. Since most other positions ARE structured as salary or hourly rate, there’s a cushion, and, realistically, no downside. For sales positions, if no sales are made… that can mean the difference of a person eating, or not eating. There’s a MASSIVE downside. So if a sales person kicks ass at what they do, they should be vastly rewarded.

      The further point is – without something being sold… nothing happens. Period. As mentioned in the article, there’s a major ripple effect – as something gets sold, it triggers OTHER parts of the business to actually happen. If people aren’t selling, then it creates a massive downside ripple to the rest of the company, and the rest of the departments don’t ‘happen’.

      So the success and failure of the company, essentially, rests on the shoulders of the salespersons.

      That pressure (personal success & failure, as well as company success and failure) resting on the shoulders of a group of a few people… I’d say that deserves a lot greater upswing of pay than most other departments.

  6. August West says:

    I fully agree. Sales is a difficult, at times gut wrenching profession. I don’t disagree with all of the comments above. The only thing I’m curious about is how for years, HR people tell the rest of us that monetary rewards are not the best motivators. Most employees, no matter how hard they work or how much they contribute to the bottom line must be satisfied for 2 – 3% per year.
    What makes sales people, executives and employees in the financial services industries different?

  7. Tim Tolan says:

    Kristen: I too, have seen where sales people did such a great job and made a lot of $$ – the reward was to cut back on their compensation or cut their ability to make good money moving forward. Not smart. Nope! That is a lose-lose proposition.
    Brian: I wrote this article to make a point that in most companies nothing happens until something is sold. I strongly feel that sales people that deliver top line revenue for a company should be highly paid. I also feel that anyone in a company that over-delivers in other departments should also be rewarded for their efforts.
    August: As I stated earlier – the biggest difference in the functional roles in your reply is that sales people deliver revenue – the lifeline to help companies grow and make more profits which benefits everyone else in the company and the shareholders for the financial risks they took by investing in the company. The CEO and other senior executives usually make their $$ on equity as the value of company increases. I still feel the sales team (if they deliver) should make a lot of cash compensation.
    Thanks to all of you for your comments!

  8. Todd Rogers says:

    There’s nothing preventing a numbers-producing sales producer from firing his employer. Most compensation plans I’ve seen have a fine-print clause stating that management reserves the right to change the plan at any time for any reason. Conversely, the rep. usually doesn’t have such leverage. But, if he or she is truly good and consistently produces numbers, then all the rep. needs to do is stare too long at the door and the boss will probably step-up. Maybe not, and said rep. can replace his employer.

  9. Tim Tolan says:

    Nothing wrong with that at all. It happened to me many years ago when I was a Regional VP of Sales for a SW company. Four RVP’s were hired to help turn the company around. We helped take the stock price from $3.75 to over $21.00 in 18 months. After we reached our goal – we were all asked to take a cut in compensation (the CEO started to get greedy). We all fired the company and left withing 60 days. Firing your employer when things like this happen is sometimes the only option you have! Great point Todd.

  10. Ann Bares says:

    Great post, Tim. Those who can’t understand and appreciate sales rewards ultimately and simply don’t get sales.
    As you say, nothing like a couple of months in the sales trenches to take care of that!

  11. Great article! Without sales, there is no business. Period. I agree with some of the comments, that is, if your company does not reward your sales efforts… find another company!

  12. Buildings are quite expensive and not every person is able to buy it. Nevertheless, loan was invented to support people in such kind of cases.

  13. Sales Sucks says:

    Sales is a field full of morons and former college athletes. No salesperson scores over 1200 on the SATs, and they have no tangible skills or qualifications. Salespeople make a ludicrous amount of money to make phone calls and hang out. It’s not work, it’s just conversation. Any middle school student has the “skills” to be in sales, as no education or qualifications are required. It’s just talking. You are a bunch of overpaid goons. You couldn’t do an engineer’s job for a day, but I’m sure an engineer could make a few sales (especially if you are a lease-based company). Ohhhh, resigning an existing customer? How’d you do THAT!? I guess you deserve your company car, trips to Jamaica, and all the other bullshit. Bottom line: salespeople are only as good as the product they are selling and the territory they are assigned. Fungible morons – anyone can do your job!

    • Jenkins says:

      It’s certainly true that an engineer could get along as a sales rep longer than a sales rep could do the job of an engineer.

      The error in your thinking is that this is very relevant to what either makes.

      Supply and demand dictates what sales reps – and everyone else – are paid. The exception being government employees of course.

      What is anything – or anyone worth? Answer: Only what someone will pay for it/him. If someone is paying a sales rep $200K / year then that is what he is WORTH! There is simply no other valuation that means anything.

      But here’s something for you to think about: There are two kinds of jobs:

      One is where you have pile A and it has to be moved to pile B.
      – Engineering is a job like that in general. So is accounting. So is programming for the most part. They give you a workload and your job is to muddle through it and hand it in. If you weren’t there to do it, the guy next to you would do the SAME job. In individual cases where there IS meaningful additional value provided by someone in these disciplines it WILL result in much more pay.

      The other kind of job is where your PERFORMANCE is measured in meaningful RESULTS which are highly variable from person to person.
      – Professional athletes are like that. Sales reps are like that. Movie actors are like that. The results can be SEEN /FELT and MEASURED and are highly dependent upon individual PERFORMANCE. In fact, these results are always tracked and are generally published in some way – either publicly or within an organization which adds a unique pressure to perform well.

      Sales reps are HELD ACCOUNTABLE for this individual performance whether GOOD OR BAD.

  14. KD says:

    Sales Sucks –
    you’re kidding me right? I’m not a Sales Pro and I’d love to say it’s easy – but it’s not… It’s one of the hardest things to do and the best sales pros get what they deserve because without them none of the rest of us – HR people, engineers, etc – are employed for very long… They have to sell to get revenue in the door.
    It’s not easy. Nice rant though….

  15. Tim Tolan says:

    SS: Why don’t you quit your job today and see how well you do in sales? Sales move the revenue needle of companies and allow companies to hire top technical, delivery, finance, operations and others who provide tons of value to the organization. However SS, let’s be clear, nothing happens in a company until a customer buys a product of service. Nothing. Nada.
    Without sales people companies would have to place their products on a shelf and just HOPE someone decides to purchase their products. That’s not going to happen. never.
    In sales, Hope is Not a Strategy – never will be.

  16. “Get rid of all sales people in your company and just wait for the bottom to fall out” – true enough. Get rid of all your operations folks and watch the same thing. Your miracle salesman might make a first sale but she’ll never make the second after the order doesn’t arrive. Or get rid of your finance folks and watch the company fold when vendors don’t get paid.
    Sales is important and yes, sales is hard. That doesn’t mean that it’s the only important job in the company. Sales drives revenue but revenue only one step in the profit equation.
    In my opinion, the resentment toward stereotypical sales compensation is not just jealousy (though there is some). It’s also frustration that the comp structure so often drives bad behavior. I can’t count the number of times I had to fix an over-sold project. Deliverables promised that couldn’t possibly break even much less show a profit. Sales made “as an investment in the relationship” when there was no realistic likelihood of any such thing. Decisions made without regard for the risks and costs being created in other areas of the organization. Salesmen who perpetuate the “revenue is all” myth are a risk to the company. (And that doesn’t even touch the sales made under ethically-questionable circumstances.)
    Of course, telling a salesperson that he’s selling unprofitable deals means admitting that the comp algorithm was poorly designed in the first place. How many managers do you know who can admit that mistake? Easier to use the “making too much money”/market-pay excuse to rebalance the sales costs to the value actually delivered.
    There may be a few companies running a bait-and-switch in their comp plans. I suspect that others just realized they were paying dearly for the privilege of losing money.
    Okay, I know that the post was a good-natured rant. Sales is underappreciated. Get over it. Every department feels underappreciated. And they’re all important. That’s my counter-rant, anyway.

    • Erock says:

      Mike R. I totally agree with your rant. A company is a circle all parts are equally as important. You cannot do anything in the company without all parts of the company working together. Far too often have I experienced the errors you talked about caused by salespeople over promising or giving me the line we have to loose money on some to make money on others or we have to take this at a loss to get any other work from the customer. However if you have a really good salesperson they will never do those things! The mantra I find is that sales attracts sumbags because of the money. They all think they should get these crazy commissions. Something along the line of “Power draws the corruptable” I was in sales for three years and was the number two the whole time which was fine for me. I never was pushy or slimy just laid back and took care of everyone ethically and equally. I can tell you it was easy! Super Easy! I left because of the way consumers are now they have delusions of grandeur and think they are a king/queen and should be treated as such while getting the lowest price. News flash Kings and Queens are not cheap asses they pay for quality and service. Fire the crappy customers and only take work you make money on, you will save on time (time=money) and you will make money on everything regardless. Whoops went into another rant. Sales people come into companies thinking they crap rainbows and should be given pots of gold to start, the time is now to put them in there place they are the same as everyone else. Besides if your a totally online business you don’t need sales people just get high enough on a google search with your web design and people will buy your product! (Hint: web designers are not sales people)

      • Jenkins says:

        “A company is a circle all parts are equally as important.”

        Should the janitor make as much as you then?

        All the jobs are important but the fair market value of the contribution of different PEOPLE in the company are NOT equal and MUST NOT BE PAID EQUALLY.

        Everyone should not be paid equally. They should be paid based on their fair market VALUE.

        Consider the differences between Soviet East Germany vs West Germany, Old China vs Hong Kong, North Korea vs South Korea. Which ones would you have rather lived in?

        These are examples of societies that said everyone is PAID equally vs societies where FREE people are free to bid wages for services – just like you do everyday. You spend your money according to it’s value to you. You don’t give a damn if the people at one company make less than the people at an other – you fork over more money for the things you VALUE.

        Societies of any kind – countries or companies – that violate the free market generate CRAP and the whole thing breaks down and the result is misery for everyone.

  17. Robert says:

    I agree with the 100%… Salespeople are the backbone of a company and few people realize it. Without them, there would be no business!

  18. Good post, it was good enough that I took some notes! Go sales!

  19. Tim Tolan says:

    Robert and Sales Manager Training:
    Most people that have ever run a business understand that nothing happens until something is SOLD. That does not mean that other key people in the organization don’t matter. That’s not the point. However, without sales – there is no business. Period.

  20. Manuel says:

    Hi Sales Sucks:
    I am a sales professional and an engineer. I can assure you that I am not a jock, earned well over a 1400 on my SAT, and earned BS and MS degrees in Computer Engineering from a strong engineering school (Carnegie Mellon) where I graduated near the top of my class. I love engineering and that is precisely why I am in sales. I sell very high end computers that I helped design as a I started my career as an engineer. I want to learn how we can make computers better for the world by immersing myself in client environments.
    I understand where you are coming from and let me assure you that the most successful sales people that I know in technology have strong technical backgrounds. Most customers in technology are straight shooters and won’t give non-technical people the time of day.
    Having said that, sales is not easy and not anyone can be successful. From the customers point of view, you have to be able to synchronize everything from finance, legal, product requirements, support, and get everyone that matters at your client and in your company to want to work with and trust you. There are a lot of things out of your control and there are no hard and fast rules. I am not saying that sales is harder than engineering. I am not saying engineering is harder than sales. They both require different skill sets though.
    At first thought, I would tend to agree that I am relatively overpaid compared to other functions in my company. Really the sales person is nothing without his support structure and product. Having said that, the engineers and support structure don’t get paid if the sales person can’t close the deal. The relationship between sales people and their organizations is symbiotic. In the end though, it is in the engineer’s best interest to have his sales person highly motivated to bring in more profitable revenue so the engineer can be compensated more. Therefore, at a company with limited resources (every company) more compensation is going to go to the sales at companies that are interested in driving profitable revenue (most companies).
    A problem I see is that both sales folks and engineers act like they are king of the world and don’t need each other. My hope is people reading this will develop mutual respect for one another and realize that teaming with one another is the best thing for everyone involved at the end of the day. Check your ego at the door, enjoy learning from one another, and have fun coming up with ways to serve outstanding value to your clients! If you can embed this attitude across your company, it will be successful

  21. Will says:

    Isn’t there a chance that if a bunch of people on the sales team are making large amounts of money, it’s too easy. I understand that there are good sales people, but there are also good products. I worked on the other end. I would buy things for my company from sales people. Most of the time the sales people were useless. They knew nothing about their products. Would miss quote prices and mess up orders. But we still bought from them because they were the only company that offered their services or they were much cheaper than any competitor.
    These sales people could have looked like geniuses when it was really the back office that was keeping the accounts alive.

    • Ray says:

      When you work for an employer, you work to support a business who’s goal is to make a profit. Some positions help companies operate efficiently saving money, and some positions make money for the employer. In some cases the business process employed can contribute to both.
      Sales departments can easily be recognized as on the revenue/make money side of the equation while other departments like service for example can contribute, other departments can either be categorized as cost , operational or overhead and can be measured by the success of their efficiencies.

      Successful sales people recognize what they are selling, what the business impact should be for the prospect (make money, streamline process, improve productivity or save money)

      I have worked with engineers who think they are so smart that they would never talk with or discuss what they are doing with a sales person. These engineers are easily unmasked in the sales process and rarely become obstacles as they are usually viewed and positioned as “dime a dozen” engineers who have very little business sense- who value their contributions in terms of “personal achievements” rather than organizational successes. When these type of engineers say things like “selling is easy” or “anyone could do it” , they usually unmask themselves as an unwilling participant in a measurement system that requires interaction with others in the business, but rather selfish interaction with inanimate computers or software – where the goals of the business is lost in their personal achievements. – and easy fodder to overcome.

  22. Andy says:

    Very biased opinion written by a sales person.

  23. CEO says:

    I am a CEO and am currently paying salespeople more than me and am perfectly happy to do so. However, we are also looking at repositioning our compensation methodology so that everyone in the company who works hard and performs well has the ability to impact their compensation.

    Tim, while sales people are important and probably even underappreciated, I disagree with the ego salespeople have that ‘nothing’ happens until a sale or that revenue is THE most important thing in a company. First, sales people have to have something to sell. That generally comes from an entrepreneur with an idea, which then goes to some kind of ops and marketing team to get ready for the customer. Often, many things happen before the sale.

    Additionally, I would rather be out of business than in a business with lots of revenue (because we have great revenue generators) but no profit. Our salespeople are top-notch, but we’ve had to really work with them to get them to understand the difference between a sale and a profitable sale.

    Finally, I will recognize the risk salespeople undertake if all salespeople will acknowledge the responsibility that comes with being responsible for the livelihood of all the staff and their families.

    Good article and thanks for the post, now…get back to work and sell something! 🙂

  24. Steve Bazdmeg says:

    Just my two pence worth. I’m in sales, have been one of those “high earners” and I’m a member of Mensa. I wonder if that unthinking engineer could qualify for that?

  25. Brett Ferguson says:

    I read with amusement this lively and educated argument about one of the oldest duels in modern corporate times. Being an engineer / project manager for 10 years, and business owner now, at 36 years old in the tech industry, I’ve met lots of fast talking well dressed salespeople who walked the walk and the talk. I worked ‘for’ them most of the time (you can tell they assumed that downstream departments are subjugate… and that’s bad culture, period)

    The power structure of sales having more leeway in most organizations than any other department, is not just encouraged by management to drive revenue, it’s part of the culture of sales *people*. Sales are encouraged to push the company’s products toward where they see the money coming from. That usually happens, not as an effort to evolve the company’s products into better ones, but as a way to sell the products with biggest commission. Think products with monopolies and 50% margin. In my industry it’s Cisco, Tandberg, Printer Toner, AMX, Crestron, etc. In your industry it might be high value cars, or the like. That’s where the ‘best’ salespeople gravitate… tell me if I’m wrong?

    Unless a salesperson’s aims are to build long relationships with repeat clientelle, an unchecked sales force can tear a company apart by chasing the carrot at all costs. From my experience, that includes ignoring directives from management to sell core products that the WHOLE business can support, to ignoring complaints from other departments in an effort to capture more commission, to glossing over due diligence to get more jobs ‘done’ in a given period. I think that’s what annoys most people who have to ‘clean up the mess’ left by overzealous salespeople who don’t consider anything beyond themselves and their next commission cheque. Now that’s not all salespeople, but it’s always a few bad apples that sour the batch…

    I believe sales in general are elevated to a higher place than is deserved. In most western countries it’s not the people who make stuff work that get the best pay (except at Google and in some engineer-entrenched countries like Germany), it’s the people who bullshit about what it can do who get the best pay. It’s the people tasked with ‘selling the dream’. Chasing the almighty dollar has its pitfalls, and the chaos some salespeople leave in their wake has a bad cultural effect on a lot of organisations and even governments (think of the sales pitch any interest group comes at you with).

    Remembering that the short term payoff is only one part of the equation, would serve many salespeople well. There ARE other people involved in your ‘sales process’, and any CEO worth their package, would be well aware of this. These people include:
    1. The designers/engineers who see and fix the oversights made while ‘selling the dream’ (were you awake during the dream?)
    2. The managers who have to act as go-between for all the affected departments, and smooth over the chaos.
    3. The accounting and support personnel who have to deal with angry customers who got sold, nay lied to.
    4. The CEO who you all hate earning more than you, because he/she obviously got to where they are by lying their socks off just like you, and oh wait, that makes YOU the jealous ones.

    Sorry if this is a bit too close to the bone. But hey, go sell ice to an eskimo… I’ve heard there’s good commission in it! 😀

  26. Mike Batton says:

    Yes, without sales people there would be much less revenue. Absolutely. A strong sales team is obviously an important and vital roll to any company, but that isn’t the question being asked, is it? The question is whether sales people are overpaid, and the answer is unfortunately a resounding yes in many cases. To make the argument that excessive wages are deserved because “it all starts with a sale” is disingenuous at best. First, let’s takes at where it all REALLY starts, which is with a vision, provided by the founder(s) of the company. This vision is then organized and implemented by everyone from the executive team to engineering and design to operations and the person that empties out your office’s trash cans at the end of the day. These are ALL key, fundamental jobs in a company, and vital to the existence of any business as a whole. It starts with your sales? No, it starts with the product that you sell, and made possible by the operational team that delivers on the expectations that are set. Sales help a company succeed, yes, product and development are the reason many companies exists. That being said the self-important, prima donna attitude displayed by the author of this article doesn’t surprise me at all, and is all too common amongst sales people.

    So why DO they get paid more? Because of the incentive to overperform and make the company more money. It’s a completely valid reason. The people who are irritated over this are those like myself who work just as hard, not only delivering on their essential duties, but also over performing day in and day out to improve a company’s internal process as well as the value of the product itself, only to be passed over for a raise time after time while the sales team continues to rake in huge amounts of cash. I know from a firsthand basis just how much complexity, tact and creativity goes in to the work I do, and to be continually outmatched in pay by a group of people who barely know how to write a coherent e-mail, let alone do anything technical or imaginative, is very frustrating. Are there intelligent sales people? Of course. But when all is said and done sales person is still an unskilled, easily replaceable position, and the fact that my company is full of absolutely moronic sales reps only helps to serve my confirmation bias. Yes, the job can be very grueling at times, but this is simply the tradeoff for holding a position that just about anyone with opposable thumbs can do. Just ask landscaper. So am I jealous? Maybe a little, but more than anything I’m annoyed with what I see as an unfair allocation of of the budget…c’est la vie.

  27. Zeeshan says:

    A CEO once asked me what I thought his job was. I went on endlessly about growing rev year in and year out, shareholders, acquisitions, vision, mission blah blah….at which point he stopped me. ‘I’m a sales rep’, he declared, ‘with a much bigger quota to hit’. The most down to earth (and true) description of someone that is essentially tasked with selling more to continue increasing revenue for the business.

    Without sales, you have no revenue! Without revenue, the operations people, finance, R&D….NONE of them would have a job. What good is talent and a great product if nobody is buying it? The sales people make that happen; the breadwinners who pay the bills so everyone can continue whining and prancing around in their roles and lives. And if you think it’s easy, you should try it. Seriously, it’s easy money right? Make everyone laugh.

  28. John says:

    What came first the egg or the chicken? Not quite to that extreme but you can use this argument.

    A product can sell it self with simple marketing. The revenue will not be great but a product can still sell itself. There is no argument anyone can come up with against this statement.

    At the same time I do not agree that sales should make a lot less money than they do, however sometimes things need to be adjusted.

    Sales people who keep selling a product that essentially needs to be changed by product development or the operations team has to change its whole process to deliver need to be canned no mater how much revenue they bring. That sale person makes a call sells a “dream” like someone has already mentioned that essentially needs to be created by everyone else in the company. There is the issue. They get their commission while operations and product development is busy reinventing the wheel. But this points out to the obvious flaws in the modern corporate structure.

    Remember, without a product your position does not exist. And no mater how much you would like to think otherwise, a product can always sell it self. A good product that is, thank modern technology and communications for that.

    I still believe that sales are essential, but many sales people need to be humbled. Make all the money you can, but do not forget that there is a team out there that makes it happen for you.

  29. Matt says:

    This is a very biased one sided argument based on opinion. Just saying “that’s a fact” does not make it true.

    There are good salesman and bad salesman, much like any department. See how long you keep that customer if the accounting department under performs. A few incorrect billings or tardiness in sending out invoices could be enough to drive any customer away.

    This article seems to make the assumption that all products and companies are equal and the only difference is the salesman. I would be shocked if anyone believed that.

    I do find the comment in the CEO section amusing. Claiming CEO ego sadly gets in the way of a salesmans earnings potential. To me this whole article is based around ego. Perhaps I should flip the question, if being a CEO is so easy why doesn’t everyone do it?

  30. Marc says:

    In regards to sales people there are different levels of sales. Some require that you grind and sell on the phone, others require a very technical approach, others are more corporate high end sales, with others dealing with smaller companies. So there are “different” types of sales people.

    I work in a commission only role and choose to do so to make more money. The risk is high, the rewards are high and you have to work your butt off to be successful. I work in advertising and there are reps that like to take clients out and spend time picking up their dry cleaning, but I promise you 90 percent of those people will fail if they are new reps, even reps from other industries with experience.

    I am constantly thinking about my next sales looking months in advance and how much I need to bring in and how I am going to forecast that and what trends are hitting in that month. Then I have to deal with internal people that dont have the same drive I have on getting things done, because their lives are not dependant on it.

    Put a person on commission only and you have to perform. Lets see how many people would take that position…..very few I would imagine.

    Every department is important to making things work, but only dependant on their market value. Good sales people are hard to find were as I can find many people that will clean the building or to answer phones. They deserve to get paid, but only what the market deems correct and are also important to making to company cogs work!

    Also sales can be made much easier with a strong product, great idea, or good promotion, but it is not impossible to sell an average product….far from it if the price is in accordance. Then you are selling on price rather than value, which in this market seems easier at times when they just ask for the price to cut costs, even if they are making an error in not seeing the true value.

    Interesting article! Thank you.

  31. Fantastic article. gets straight to the point.

    I actually think sales people are UNDER-paid most of the time, at least that seems to be the trend these days – and those that do get paid what they’re worth likely put up with way too much bitching from the “management” than they should have.

    That is NOT to say others should be underpaid, but I’ve rarely ever seen operations (even crappy operations teams) ever take the fall for a project not delivered on time, or a project not being profitable (despite being sold at an obviously profitable price) – it’s always the sales person that’s blamed because “his job is so easy, all he does is to sit and sell”. And this trend holds especially true for companies in the web design field, which is where a lot of my selling experiences comes from.

    Hmm – I wonder what the guys in execution do – do they stand and execute? 😉

    At the end of the day it’s SALES that brings in NEW projects (remember, new is different from repeat) – and new projects are obviously what any company would prize the most. Sure, repeat business DOES count, but new business that can equate to repeat business also counts just as much, if not more.

    Some of the posters here (not surprisingly mostly from the “operations” side of things) have made the point that they make things work, fix the sales guy’s “overselling” et al. Well, I can say from personal experience that I’ve worked a LOT of times with execution teams that just couldn’t get the job done – despite the project being sold at a decent price, despite the project being EASY to do – and despite the fact that other companies were doing it at a lesser rate – and profitably at that. However, the CEO in all cases ended up blaming sales for it while mollycoddling the operations people through the whole mess.

    Why, you ask?

    Well, because said sales person (read me) could get his job done quickly and efficiently without having to spend a bunch of time in the office (or overtime) while the operations guy spent hour after unsuccessful hour trying to get work done (which he had agreed to along with the sales person in the first place) and usually not succeeding.

    I’ve often been told to “help” the operations guys finish up their work – only problem being, I’m getting paid less than half of what operations is, and I’m doing my job – and operations isn’t.

    Something’s not quite right, eh? 😉 And this sort of thing happens a lot more than most people realize. . .
    And let’s not EVEN get into the case of smaller companies where it’s usually the sales people who are forced to wear many hats (lead generators, marketers, content writers and sales people) – all for a LESSER wage than the so called skilled operations guys. . .And why? Oh, didn’t you know, his job is easy – because he gets it done so fast!

    It’s amazing how some folks still think time spent and results are one and the same thing, but it happens more than you’d care to believe.

    And last, but not least – yeah, all of you that think sales is a breeze, well, let’s see you actually get out there and close some deals as opposed to whining about tech specs, whittling down the proposals to the minutest detail, and doing everything possible to let the customer go so you don’t have to work, hehe. . .

  32. Completely agree says:

    Ah, and don’t EVEN get me started on the CEO ego’s — how DARE a sales person even ask for commissions? How DARE he think of out-earning me?? I could literally write books on the number of times I’ve seen good sales people screwed over on their commissions etc by their companies. . .

  33. Entrepreneur says:

    I’ve seen and experienced it first hand, no sales = no revenue = nothing happens = nada.

    For all the techies or operations people who think that selling is easy, pick up the phone, talk and try selling whatever product you have. If you don’t have the gut to even do it or don’t know how to sell, stop complaining about sales people paycheck. Or if you really want, move to sales department or start your own business, then you will start looking into sales with a very different way.

  34. Pablo says:

    Hello Mr. Tolan;

    A deep debate has arised recently in the company I work for and I would sincerely appreciate your point of view. Sales people make as much as 4 or 5 times as the other employees make. While I agree that the more your bring, the more you should get paid, it is not entirely true to say that the success of a sale is wholely dependant on the salesperson. I work for an engineering firm and most of the contact with the costumer and most of the acceptance is dependant on the engineers that directly work on the project and close with the costumer. Yet, the engineering department gets paid a fixed bonus at the end of the year that is not related to the company profit and the sales department gets a massive bonus largely tied to the profit. It seems unfair to think of every other employee as a “machine” that only builds products and services behind a curtain and the sales person is the brave and shining star that goes out to the world. There are many many people involved directly in the success of a sale that go unrewarded.

    I’d deeply appreciate your comments on this.

  35. Decan Frost says:

    Let me ponder a Question to all. Say you sell sell sell tell your blue in the face. and the customer never gets that product. How much money did that sales rep and the company make?????

    I will answer the question for those of you who cant figure this out..

    ZERO is what was made plan and simple fact!!!!!

  36. Rock42 says:

    I’m an engineer by training. I’ve held both sales and engineering positions. I can tell you that the sales role is BY FAR the harder of the two positions. Why do I do sales now? I enjoy it for one, but all else equal I do it for the potential to make A LOT more money. Bring engineering and sales to pay parity, and I’ll chose engineering any day – it’s easier and frankly pretty fun. But then, who is going to go out and sell for me?

    I’ve also lived in both of these two kinds of organizations: one where sales and marketing is strong and engineering is weak, and one where sales and marketing is weak and engineering is strong. The first always suffered customer sat and product issues, but made a lot of money. The second had really smart people on staff working on things no one cared about and was constantly on the verge of going out of business. I can tell you without equivocation which of the two is better to live in…

    Also, in my experience, when finance is weak someone is about to get indicted. However, without sales and engineering (or your equivalent product / service / function generator), there is no need for finance.

  37. Adam Elder says:

    Sales are the life blood of any organization/company. Without sales all other departments are no longer in demanded. No Food, all organs in the body eventually shut down.

  38. Alan Gehami says:

    Good sales people deserve what they earn otherwise they will go elsewhere and earn what they are worth. Being a sales professional is very similar to being a pro golfer or tennis player, YOU need to earn each and every paycheck.

  39. Justin says:

    Insurance agent here. My pay is fully-based on commissions (no basic salary).

    I’m glad my company knows how to compensate its salespeople.

    Unfortunately the other departments don’t seem to think it’s fair. Oh well…

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  41. CalgaryEng says:

    Just wanted to respond to the comment from an engineer. I am an engineering grad myself who worked both as technical support and as a project engineer. Sales is what I prefer only because I like the adventure and the challenge. Sales is a much harder job and lifestyle, but offers more time flexibility. Sales is far more stressful – rejection, good service, poor service, no reply emails, creative networking, successful coffee meeting, un-happy customer, loss of a customer, new opportunity, taking responsibility, generating leads, negotiating price, negotiating future work, communicating with co-workers what customers want, tell customers what they can and can’t have, getting pity from engineers that I am not an engineer, heading home without any progress, getting a meeting, showing up to a canceled meeting, market research, identifying new opportunities, making sure the right product arrives on time, justifying expenses. By the way, Engineers sell too…….just themselves. People assume sales people do not have technical expertise. Sales people have people skills and the technical expertise to get the sale.

  42. Sales Sucks (I agree) says:

    A sales site for a sales reps as so eloquently stated by “Sales Sucks” college drop outs desperate to get a job and flog crap by over selling. As and engineer I too am sick of half witted sales consultants who are brain washed by spin and sites like this telling them they are a “professional”…..for the record NO YOUR NOT!!!

    Spend a day in the trenches, good point why don’t you, the real trenches not some metaphor what a load of bollocks, how about a soldier that does spend time in the trenches? No money in that.

    However some pin head that cannot “do anything” gets more than a doctor? Seriously you guys are such spin cowboys and that’s why I enjoy tearing away the spin from these unqualified idiots that come in and try and flog products they should be in glass they are that transparent…..twits.

  43. Margarita says:

    These small-scale manufacturing company owner generally require
    devoted manufacturing area of much less compared to 5,000 square feet (commonly as little as 1,000 sq.
    feet), use tidy technologies (assume laser device cutters), however
    require budget-friendly, devoted industrial/production area.
    The renters are mainly regional professionals developing items for
    the regional market, but at producing levels.

  44. John says:

    Blah blah blah. Another example of why sales people are the biggest, entitled, slimy douchebags. Nothing more than overpaid telemarketing phone monkeys.

  45. Well, I have a different take on this. I work at a software company. We used to have an outbound sales-team, who at one point were (by some margin) the highest paid employees in the firm. They were bringing in about 200 customers per-month, many of whom cancelled within the first year, and many [thoughtless] features were introduced into the platform as a result of their input, purely in order to secure the sale. In short: we were targeting the wrong audience, introducing features borne out of a need to ensure commissions and, quite frankly, not getting very far as a result. Eventually, the engineers grew rather sick of the pay discrepancies, and one by one, departed the company for better horizons elsewhere. We had to re-address our entire customer acquisition process. Over the forthcoming months, we slowly let the outbound reps go, and doubled our engineering and data-science budget. We employed some great growth hackers also.

    Within 6 months, we went from 200 [sketchy] sales per-month and a resentful technical and operatons team, to 10k new signups per month, of which a 3k(!) converted into paying customers. This figure continued to rise until we finally sold the business back in 2014 for a tidy 8 figure sum.

    A word of advice: there’s more than one way to skin a cat and in 201, the shortest path to business success will often involve thinking outside the sales-shaped box that many businesses are confined within.

  46. Joy says:

    I skimmed all the comments and definitely am learning a lot from what everyone is saying and agree with the majority of things that were mentioned. Has anyone worked on a sales team where there is set sales people making outbound calls to existing customers and then the sales people pass the orders to “order processors”(People who work with the details of the order.)? I’m interested in knowing how commission would work in that type of situation? Do both get paid the same commission or different? Technically both individuals are part of the sale. The person making the outbound sale is building the rapport with the customer and getting them to order again. People processing orders still may be negotiating the sale once an order is passed to them.

  47. Catherine J Sidoti says:

    I have been in sales from about 19 years old through to the last several years where I got burned out. There are several keys to being successful in sales and since selling is all psychology aside from the vast amount of product knowledge it is the science of numbers and the art of conversation as I have said for over 20 years. I have sold millions and know what it is like to be at the top and in the middle and at the bottom of the pecking order. Consistent sales success has to do with what HBR talks about regarding having high levels of conscientiousness and also having several key personality characteristics that make for a top level sales person. The more intelligent you are the more abilities you have to sell anything from complex biotechnology products to computer software integrated ERP/CRM systems. As someone who is now getting my MA in Industrial Organizational Psychology I have reviewed lots of journal articles on sales and the literature is very inconclusive as to what makes a great sales person. Sales is a combination of intelligence (high cognitive abilities), conscientiousness, openness to learning new things, flexibility, active listening, rebutting arguments with the prospects’s sensitivity in mind and the level of extroversion is not as important as being an ambivert which means that you are introverted with some prospects and extroverted with others and it is discretionary. Sales is very hard work, when I sold print advertising for about 9 different publications that ranged from Broadcasting to Engineering plastics I had to pull out my knowledge in the arts (I have had lots of music and theatre classes) to science (I have had lots of chemistry and biology in undergraduate school) to speak intelligently. We now have the Internet where information can be verified so education and training is the key to staying competitive as well as working for an organization or creating an organization that has an innovative product. Selling is hard and it is the hardest hard working job, the most highly successful sales people are those who can manage their emotions at least 95% of the time because not everyone will be nice or cordial. I have worked in NYC where I have had doors slammed in my face. I doubt most people could cold call 100 floors of a building for several years. Sales people must also have a resiliency and and sensitivity at the same time and not take it personally because it is just that the prospect is not interested right now (they may never be but right now they are not). In order to stay afloat you must know how to manage your finances for lean times. Sales people are future oriented with their present focus on creating sales in the moment. Can everyone learn to sell, probably, can very one sell something, I would argue that everyone is selling a movie, a personal care product a whatever but not getting paid for it. True sales people are always selling what they believe in and what solves a problem in society, if one approaches sales in this way he or she will sell a product or service that helps someone in some way, this is where the empathy plays into sales. Again it is the science of numbers which is why engineers are very good as both sales people and CEOs of companies. My father is a retired chemical engineer and he had a great personality when he was very young and had lots of great business ideas. One has to have many of the skills or willing to get better at many skills because one may sign a contract and for what every reason the contract cancels after spending hours and days working on it, one must keep learning from what went wrong diagnose it, know who the tire kickers are and who the hot prospects are, recognize strong buying signals and the sales person needs to check into see where he or she is feeling desperate, if you are feeling desperate as a sales person the client will see it, they will hear it in your voice, therefore voice training, emotional management, constant knowledge training as well as professional advanced client oriented training and a vision to help someone with their business (as was my case in print advertising sales). Is sales hard work, you bet, does it require talent, yes, should sales people get paid more than others, if they are selling yes they should be paid because organizations have offices and then they have the sales floor which is typically a call center, this is where the organization’s business is represented by reps to the outside world, without this arm of the business, the organization does not stand a chance to compete in the marketplace. Selling is the backbone of any for-profit organization and anyone who thinks less of this is just kidding themselves. All organizations are looking for top sales people, the question is are you a top person first, let alone being a top sales person. I would argue that if a human being, whether male or female, whatever gender, nationality, height, weight, level of attractiveness, if you master yourself first, your emotions, your ability to absorb lots of relevant information to your sales craft, you will succeed in sales for the long term. The mastery of the emotions is important in any situation, I would argue that in sales, the mastery of the emotions and the constant upgrading of one’s personal skills i a must, without it you might as well look into another career path.

  48. Sol says:

    This is utterly delusional. We had salespeople earning nearly twice that of members of our engineering team, most of whom had either a PhD in technical discipline, or a wealth of technical experience through industry. Don’t kid yourselves: sales is hard because it’s grunt-work and anyone desperate, delusional and cocky enough can do it. If you’d worked harder in school, or been blessed with more smarts, you could get a better job, one that’s actually mentally stimulating (and not just because of the £$€_. Needless to say, we no longer have a sales team now, and have focussed exclusively of our engineering and technology efforts. We thriving now, in all senses of the word. One day, your ilk will be irrelevant. Quickly may it come.

    Bye bye.

    • Joe Schmoe says:

      Amen brother. Salespeople earning more than your engineering staff is just retared. Flip the roles of those two departments and I guarantee the Engineers will easily be able to adapt without any training. The Sales people would be lost at sea.

      • Brent Fenlon says:

        why are you jealous of other peoples work? you live life with your pay and they will live life with there pay. Both sides go home with what they earned

  49. Joe Schmoe says:

    You’re all full of crap. Sales people are nothing more than mobile customer service people. THAT’S IT! It’s 2015 and companies really don’t need them if they have a good ecommerce website and a good customer service group. Just market your business according and pay college kids an hourly wage to hunt down those customers. I hate salesman. Just a middleman jacking up everyones prices just to pay their commissions. If they think they are so valuable then they should offer ALL customers the ability to opt out of their services which would decrease their cost by the salesman’s commission rate. 95% of the salesman I know are borderline retarded with basic reading/writing and computer skills. I feel fairly confident in about 20 years that these guys are goners. People will just go to websites and click click click,

    • Steel68 says:

      Joe Schmoe, You know nothing of sales. There are various levels of sales. You are probably thinking of low level salesman. You are thinking of somebody that sells furniture or TV’s for a living. Compare that to a Pharma salesmen or Medical Device Sales. You have to explain to a doctor how a medical device works or the side effects of a particular drug. There are high level sales jobs which require education and experience. like chemical salesmen or high level software salesmen. As the world gets more and more complicated there will be more and more need for salesmen. Sales can be one of the hardest jobs, you are constantly looking for the next deal. Even if you did great for years, you are only as good as your last sale. By the way what do you do for a living?

  50. Paulo says:

    I just want to clarify something, i am a salesman myself, all of you who are not a salesman, you are all employee of a saleman, the owner of the company is a salesman that can’t handle all the works and that is why they hired you guys, deal with it.

  51. Ann Onnymus says:

    Sales people are generally by nature greedy and need more financial incentive than the rest of us and tend to shout the loudest and get all the credit / rewards as a result. Sales is no harder than any other specialist job. Our company is lost in this delusion – sales staff are rewarded with trips to Barbados while the rest of us producing the thing they sell quietly in the background get nothing. I’m a software developer – do I get commision because I fixed X bugs, delivered a project early, saved a company £Xm a year due to something I wrote? Gift of the gab always wins.

  52. Brent Fenlon says:

    why are you comparing engineering and sales people?

    You picked the job you are working but yet you can sit and criticise (sook) about another job getting paid more then you.


    Im a school student looking into the sales field, not because I want the money but because I love talking to people, I love challenges and that’s what sales provides.. from my research, you get problems from where you can not sell the product, you don’t have customers, you loose customers and etc.. but it is it’s on profession and shouldn’t be compared to an engineer.

    your basically saying – An engineer should get paid more because of all the hard work and study they do. Why then do you sit and compare another job, or drag down its reputation and look like a sook complaining about it.. If you don’t like it then change job

  53. chris says:

    I NEVER understand when people talk negatively about salespeople & act like they have an easy job-that’s such bs! Now, of course we all have the image of the cheesy, pushy salesguy that’s annoying, but that’s a stereotype. In reality, people that are successful as salespeople, especially those that have jobs that depend on quotas or ‘goals’ in order to keep them, or work for commission only, just amaze me. How the hell they can make alot of money doing something that’s so dependent on something that a big part of it is beyond their control is beyond me. Because let’s face it, some people, no matter how fantastic the salesperson is, just are not going to buy no matter what. Either they’re totally not interested, & nothing they say is going to make them otherwise, or they just don’t have the money and simply can’t. I’m sure experienced salespeople would say I’m wrong, and that it is alot more in your control than I realize, but that’s what separates me from a person that has what it takes to be a salesperson. And that’s why it’s a field I have alot of respect for, because it’s not something that just anyone can do.

  54. SF says:

    I came here quite angry with sales people. I have another URGENT matter that a sales rep sat on for at least 10 days, based on the email timestamp. He replied to the customer, but didn’t do any work or give it to anyone who would. Now, he’s pushing us to make miracles happen… I manage the “damage control team” for a technology company and from my point of view, most of the sales people couldn’t sell ANYTHING without me/my team. As I read through this and comments, I think I realize the issue is that this post is for Good Sales People! I believe sales people are a dime a dozen but good sales people are diamonds in the rough… and come to think of it, training people for my job takes roughly 2 years with no productivity for 6 months.

    Unfortunately, my company doesn’t have many good sales people. We have several who make money for the company and are paid well for the effort BUT, the overall cost to keep them operational is HUGE. Because of their practices, we mandate the pricing because they sell too low. Also, we have a team that manages their projects because they don’t know what they are selling and promise the customer undeliverable expectations. RMA’s are up 33% annually and we’re less than 1/2 way through the fiscal year. Actually, if they did their jobs correctly, my position would be dissolved and I could go back to doing what I used to do before they asked me to manage this team.

    So, I think most of our sales rep are the traditional over paid, self important, entitled people that most of the negative posts refer to… I have seen very few truly good sales people and they are good people, friendly, hard workers and worth every penny. They also don’t show up on my ‘list’ very often.

    For the record, I blame management for the culture. They are the ones that allow the sales team to act as they do and perform so meagerly.

    FYI, my and my team’s performance is posted monthly. Also, I’ve been the owner/operator of 2 companies and I folded my companies because I wanted a life with my family… convincing people to buy your product really is very difficult… so is creating the vision and the entire process from that point to the customer.

  55. clifton says:

    Sales are very hard, however it’s a piece of cake to some of us that knows the specifics in selling.
    never, pressure, never beg, never act desperate, but always be confident, honest, happy, and motivated by something. I’ve been a successful salesman in all my sale jobs period. Having the right and positive attitude helps a lot.

  56. Sarah says:

    To everyone’s argument regarding the necessity of your job function: I totally agree – a company needs to sell its products to be successful but the need for salespeople is a product of the economy (supply and demand) and is not indicative of your intelligence which is why salespeople are completely overpaid. Sales people literally have the same skills that I had in high school: good communicator and listener, basic Microsoft Office skills, time management skills, etc. I worked in financial services sales, didn’t really enjoy it or feel rewarded at all since you’re literally just brokering a transaction between a customer and a firm selling a product or service.

    Janitors, trash men, and cashiers are all a result of the needs of our economy – there is a demand for their job functions. The same theory applies to salespeople – yes, a business needs people to sell but they also need people to cook the food in the cafeteria, too.

  57. Bjorn says:

    Okay..sales is a hard job..I get it. I’m currently a service technician for a Heating and Cooling company. On average, sales make $20,000 more than installers. No in my opinion..that’s B.S. Sales sounds hard..but its vise friggin versa. You can’t do our job. Go ahead. Try. Stand on top of a 110° roof top in the middle og august, or get on your hands and knees next to a furnace and properly diagnose and repair the problem WILE OFFERING SUPERB COUSTOMER SERVICE. I believe the wage gap shouldn’t be 4 to 5 times lager. Its messed up and its pretty Damn disrespectful for the people doing the REAL WORK.

  58. Don't believe the hype says:

    Wow, could you write a more biased article? Granted, sales people are needed, but others in a company are equally important, if not more. I think a major difference between sales and non-sales personalities that has led to this salary disparity is the fact that sales-minded people are simply better at bullshitting their way through life. Easier to get a raise when you put that to use on a regular basis.

    I’ve seen the arguments from the sales side asking if an engineer, etc. could do their job, but how many sales people could go the other way? Who could design a more efficient engine, diagnose an illness, code a website from scratch, make new scientific discoveries or design a magazine? Save those who went on to higher education to specialize, or are autodidacts, VERY few. It’s a lot easier going the other way when it’s essentially just people ‘skills’ involved. The whole chicken/egg argument that sales starts the whole process is irrelevant – you need something to sell in the first place.

    Sales isn’t a ‘difficult’ job, it’s more of a grind – there’s a difference. Rarely does it require much analysis, problem solving or intellect. There are other professions just as grinding, which also include the qualities mentioned above.

    Essentially, what a sales person does is make promises for other people to keep. Granted, there’s pressure to arrange it, but hey, that’s the job! There are many other careers just as stressful and pressure packed. Just because sales is an important part in any business, doesn’t make it more important than other aspects, as much as sales people would like to think it is.

    • Don’t Believe the Hype: That was spoken like someone who has never spent a minute in sales.

      Sales requires huge amount of time on analysis and problem-solving. Our entire sales team is made up of Chemists and Chemical Engineers and trust me, Chemical Engineers who have the skill set to excel at sales are rare creatures. Sales has never been a “grind” although it does require tenacity. The thing you people are all missing is that every time a Sales person calls on a customer or prospect, there are 5 or 6 sales people from their competitors doing the same thing. Your competitors are trying every day to steal away your business and it is your sales team that keeps those wolves from the door and keeps everyone at your company gainfully employed.

      I’m astounded to read so many ill-informed, thoughtless and bitter tirades against sales. We sacrifice huge amounts of time away from our families, missing birthdays and holidays to help our companies succeed and to keep everyone in our plants working. And sure, that’s what we signed on for, we knew the sacrifices and the pressure and the stress involved with trying to win and maintain our market share. But every one of you knew the same thing about your jobs. We don’t bitch about the fact that you’re home in bed every night. If you feel you’re underpaid then get a better degree, get a better job and work harder. I went back to college at 36 years old and graduated with my ChemE degree when I was 41. And yes, 15 years later as a Sales Manager with global responsibility I make a lot of money and I could make more with another company. And I earn every penny.

      You all want to gripe about something then gripe about actors and athletes – those are the people in America that are truly overpaid.

  59. Well said Fred. I am in sales 48 years .. yes, and still making sales calls. I’ve learned that sales people have customers within the company and without. Respect is the key and have created a scenario previously where everyone switches jobs for two days. Respect for the other person’s job skyrockets ! Envy and discontent was summarily reduced to a speck. Rainmakers rock because the truly skilled ones are very creative and get paid very well for those selling ideas. At the same time, the inside customers must be appreciated and respected. Walk a mile in their shoes people …

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