Sales positions: talent market and salary benchmarking

Sales positions: talent market and salary benchmarking

Are you interested in the sales sector? Do you want to discover the talent market for these positions? This article gives a description of the different roles, defines the offer and demand in many locations and provides salary benchmarking for sales employees.

What are the different sales positions?

There are many sales positions and not all roles are defined clearly. Some examples are a sales manager, sales director, account manager, sales development representative, account executive… among many others.

Salary benchmarking.

These kind of positions are usually divided by hunters and farmers. Hunters generate leads and farmers close leads and nurture accounts. Having said that, the definition is not strict. Classification of positions in a company is not an exact science. Two main obstacles are preventing possible classifications:

  • There is no strict definition of each role: even professionals of this industry are not completely sure about which tasks correspond to each role. 
  • Companies evolve. Positions are not static and can be adapted to the needs of the business at each moment. Sometimes, the official name of a position is not updated as fast as the tasks change for an employee.

The following graph divides the position by the hunters, the farmers, and the positions that are present in every step of the funnel.

classification of sales positions
Classification of sales positions. Data source:

Hunter positions

The sales representative is the most common hunter-position. First, they are chasing leads. Then, they are taking care of new leads to lead them through the funnel.

  • Inbound sales representatives are responsible for individuals that have questions about the product or that have discovered the website and have doubts. They are waiting for leads to come and then, guiding them through the funnel.-
  • Outbound sales representatives, instead of waiting, go to potential customers to initiate engagement through cold calls. Once they have connected, the tasks are similar to inbound sales representatives.
  • Sales development representatives (SDR) qualify leads, deciding if they fulfil enough requirements to continue the process.
  • Business development representatives (BDR) are the ones booking meetings to start doing business with leads.
  • Account executives (AE) manage day-to-day affairs to ensure customer satisfaction. The need to understand customers’ needs to see if they can upsell or cross-sell to increase revenue.

Farmer positions

They need to be collaborative and friendly in order to build long-lasting relationships.

  • Account Managers (AM) develop relationships and handle customers’ needs. On some occasions, they also generate new sales using customer networks.
  • Key Account Managers (KAM) are specific AM that are managing the company’s most valuable accounts. They need to provide dedicated resources, unique offers, and periodic meetings.
  • Customer Success Managers (CSM) are the professionals that bring customers from sales to support. That professional is the reference individual that clients have inside the business. The one that receives all doubts and assigns them to the departments that are more adequate to solve them. 

Positions that are necessary during the whole funnel

Depending on the position, it needs to be present at any moment of the funnel. Others, simply are coordinators of the whole team, independently from clients.

  • Sales engineers are technicians that understand the product they are selling and can solve any technical doubts. These doubts can emerge at any stage of the process and they need to be present when needed.
  • Sales enablement professionals provide train sales teams providing them with tools and resources to do their job. They listen to how the managers want to approach their leads and give them the materials to do it properly.
  • Sales leaders, also known as Sales managers, need to lead the team to success. They have to set goals and ensure their team is completing tasks as planned.
  • Sales Vice Presidents (SVP), also known as Head of Sales, have the full picture of the department and point where improvements can be made. They recruit and hire professionals of this department and manage sales budgets. They create reports to provide feedback to major management roles in company meetings.

What sales profiles are more common?

The sales position is a concept so wide that it can englobe profiles of individuals from 20 to 60 years old. Having said that, the majority is between 25 and 35, the peak being at 31. 

Worldwide, 30% of professionals are women. In North America, the ratio is higher and the female sector represents 40%. On the other hand, in Asia and Africa, they are just 16%.

What education is recommended?

There are sales jobs that do not require a degree. They are also related to the lower-paid jobs of the department. 

There is a spectrum from no certification at all to a college education. More licences usually correspond to the higher responsibility in a company or higher salaries. 

Some positions, like sales engineers, need a college degree compulsorily. In this case, they would need to be related to science or engineering.

Not all degrees need to be related to business, sales or marketing; psychology (to put an example) can let you understand better human behaviour and be a better salesperson. These positions are highly tied to soft skills that can be given naturally but can also be trained with specific courses. These soft skills include communication, self-confidence and persuasion.

Graduate education is uncommon since none of the different positions requires a master’s degree per se.

Analyzing the talent market for sales positions

58% of the worldwide sales professionals are from the US, and also 50% of the job openings happen there. India and the UK are the two second more important participants around 8% and 10% of candidates and job openings each. The other relevant countries are from Europe, and also Canada, Singapore, Australia, South Africa and Brazil.

top 10 european cities with more demand for sales professionals
Top 10 European cities with more demand for sales professionals. Data source: TalentUp’s Database.

When analyzing offer and demand in European cities, London is the bigger city in this industry by difference. There is not a clear conclusion about whether there is more offer or demand since it differs by city. The only hub here the difference is relevant is Berlin, where there are twice as many offers as professionals.

Three German cities make it to the top 10 European cities with more job openings. Berlin is the leader and, afterwards, Munich and Frankfurt have similar values.

This situation happens similarly in Spain where Barcelona and Madrid are more or less in the same terms. Specifically, Barcelona has more job openings and Madrid has more professionals.

Types of companies hiring sales positions

Companies that have employees in the sales department are mainly focused on business services. All information technology companies, also need a this department to sell their product. And, obviously, the retail sector also has many sales employees.

Just one out of nine sales job openings are remote.

The presence of a sales department is independent of the size of the company, given that it is a core activity for all of them. Moreover, most of them have the same positions (but with different proportions). Even so, the bigger the company, the most specific roles are created. It is very rare to find inside sales representatives or store shoppers in companies of less than a hundred employees.

The shares of positions mainly differ in the fact that the core roles like managers, hunters or farmers need to be always present. And they represent a bigger share in small companies than in big ones. For example, in companies with less than 100 workers, there are just 4% sales associates. While in companies of more than a thousand workers, there are 17% of them. Meaning that in small companies, desk positions represent a bigger share.

Salary benchmarking for sales positions

The following analysis is based on base salaries. However, many sales positions are highly related to commission per sale. So to say, it is a performance-based industry. 

Other common benefits are full benefits and health insurance. Followed by 401(k) plan, work-life balance and professional development.

employees per range of wage in the us
Employees per range of wage in the US. Source: TalentUp’s database.

This graph shows the different salary distributions by position. The positions chosen are sales representative (as a representation of the average hunter), an account manager (as the average farmer) and sales managers.

The three positions analyzed have higher salaries than the general professional of the department. This is since there are positions (like sales associate) that can refer even to employees of stores their function is to sell products. These kinds of roles are usually lower.

Among hunters and farmers, we see that farmers are more prone to have higher salaries. It is also fair to note that account managers usually have more seniority than sales representatives.

Sales managers’ distribution shows that a higher proportion of professionals have higher salaries. It is also stated that it is a less common position.

Map of salaries in Europe

Made with Visme Presentation Maker

Map of the average salary of sales professionals in Europe by country. Also, salaries compared to the cost of living in the second slide. Source: TalentUp’s database. 

This map has two slides. The first slide shows the average annual salary in EUR by country in Europe. The higher salaries are in Switzerland and Denmark. Followed by Austria, Germany, Sweden and Norway. Countries of the Iberican Peninsula and the East of Europe are low, especially in the South East.

The map changes drastically when dividing the salary by the index of the cost of living of each country. With this approach, most countries are situated at the same level. This means that salaries are adequate to the prices used in their country. Countries that already had high salaries, still are well situated. One of the countries that changes is France, since they have salaries below the average when compared to the cost of living index.

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About Author

Èlia Adroher i Llorens

Content Writer. Èlia studied International Business Economics with a focus on digital marketing. She is also interested in learning about data analysis.