From time to time you will be in a salary negotiation with a sales candidate when they pull out a salary survey as evidence they are worth the compensation they are asking for. So how much weight do you place on salary surveys?
The answer depends on a few factors:
- Was the survey conducted in the same geography as your open position? National level surveys are virtually useless as cost of living and subsequently pay rates can vary drastically amongst various cities.
- When the survey performed? During a recent salary negotiation, a sales candidate referenced a survey completed in 1997. What the candidate failed to acknowledge was that in 1997 college grads were receiving Porsche’s for signing bonuses and companies with no revenues were being sold for 8 or 9 figures. The fact of the matter is that these benchmarks don’t apply to today.
- Does the survey show relevant detail? Often salary surveys talk about “junior” and “senior” sales professionals, but fail to reference the quota associated with the roles which ultimately dictates what a sales person might expect to be paid.
- Does the survey reference salaries by sector? It goes without saying that some sectors pay better than others due to margins. The going rate for your market sector may be higher or lower than what shows up in a cross sector salary survey.
- Does the survey consider supply and demand? If you have an excess of qualified talent interested in your open position, this gives you the upper hand in negotiations, otherwise you may have to pay a premium to get the person you want regardless of what a salary survey says.
Custom salary surveys can be a useful and inexpensive way to find out what the market is paying sales professionals who might be eligible for your open positions. If you are interested in references to reputable consultants who perform salary surveys, drop us a line and we will get you connected.
To your success!
Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.
He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.
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