How To Structure A Fair Salary That Will Motivate Your Sales Team

How To Structure A Fair Salary That Will Motivate Your Sales Team


Sales is probably one of the toughest jobs out there. There are many highs but also many lows, you’re constantly chasing targets, knocking down doors, building relationships, growing company revenue and running between clients and your next sale.

Just when one sale is made, another one is expected of you. Having said this however the rewards can be exceptional, this is the one job other than being a business owner where you can write your own paycheck, the harder and smarter you work, the more you can earn. So what is fair reward for a sales person?

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Says Lisa Knowles, Global Head of Recruitment at Recruitgroup: “Business owners need to make sure that the reward for their sales people is on par with what is expected of them. Sales people are motivated by making money, however the level of sales, the length of the sales cycle as well as the complexity of the product or service needs to be taken into account when deciding on what part of the salary is fixed and what part is variable. Commission and bonus structures need to be adapted around these factors.”

1. Location

According to the National Income Average, Johannesburg pays 24% more than the national average. Durban pays 6% more, Cape Town pays 2% less and Pretoria pays 8% less. Basic salaries therefore need to be in proportion to these. If you have branches in Johannesburg and Cape Town, you can’t expect to pay sales consultants in these two provinces the same.

2. Years’ experience

According to the average basic salary for a call centre sales consultant is R99,370 per annum. Basic salary pay increases as job seniority increases for example to Field Sales, Sales Management and Sales Administration.

When deciding on making an offer to a sales consultant, their number of years’ experience, number of strong client relationships they have built and industry knowledge they have all need to be taken into account.

More experienced sales consultants may be more interested in company share options, directorship opportunities or EXCO possibilities as a form of incentive.

3. Length of sales cycle

If the product or service your business sells takes longer than a year from prospecting to closing one sale, for example software, engineering or outsourced service sales then the basic salary needs to fully cover a sales consultants monthly expenses so that they can effectively do their job and not have the stresses and strains of knowing they can’t pay their bills.

Annual bonuses and incentives work well in these scenarios. In a sales environment with a quick turnaround time for example insurance, retail and B2C sales a lower basic and high commission potential would make more sense as it would keep sales consultants motivated to bring in a high volume of sales. Incentives and spot bonuses work well in these environments.

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4. Complexity of sale

Research has shown that for a highly complex sale, sales people are more motivated by stability and achievement than they are by money and therefore a structure that reflects this would probably work better. In this case a higher basic and lower commission or bonus would be more advisable.

For the right person, sales can be a highly rewarding profession. The gratification is almost instantaneous and targets should in most cases be clear and achievable. A good sales salary structure needs to be adaptable, competitive, fair and motivating.

To decide on the right salary structure for your sales consultants it is advisable to do thorough research within your particular industry in order to identify your competitors offerings as well as to identify a commission structure that will attract and retain the best sales people to and within your business.

Juliette Attwell
Juliette Attwell is Head of Marketing and Operations at Recruitgroup Recruitgroup, a leading recruitment agency that has won Recruiter of the Year in SA for 4 years running. Having grown and developed the Recruitgroup brand over the last 7 years, Juliette is passionate about career engagement and development as well as writing, communication and PR. Juliette was a finalist in the Top Young Executive of the Year- National Business Awards 2014 and holds a Bcom Industrial Psychology with Honours in Marketing. Contact