Advantages Sales Compensation Survey Finds Straight Salary On The Rise

Distributors are increasingly choosing salary over commission to pay sales reps

TREVOSE, PA – July 3, 2017 –The 2017 Sales Compensation Survey published in the latest issue of Advantages® magazine found straight salary compensation for distributor salespeople and managers in the $23 billion promotional products industry is growing, reaching 18% of sales personnel this year.

While 53% of all distributor salespeople and managers are still paid through commission-based plans, making them the primary form of compensation in the industry, the number has dropped from 70% in 2013. At the same time, straight salary is on the rise, with an average increase of 3.5 percentage points each year since 2013, when only 4% of salespeople earned a straight salary, according to the survey.

Advantages is published by the Advertising Specialty Institute® (ASI). The award-winning magazine is the leading publication for distributor salespeople in the industry, providing tips and tactics for sales success, as well as the latest product offerings.

Salespeople can be paid through commission-based plans, salary only or through hybrid salary plans (salary plus commission, salary plus bonus and all three combined). Distributors interviewed by Advantages point to changing employee expectations as the main reason industry companies are lessening their reliance on commission.

“Historically, commission was the unquestioned standard of compensating sales reps, but as our cover story shows, salaries are on the rise and it’s a trend that cannot be ignored,” said Advantages Editor-in-Chief C.J. Mittica (@CJ_Advantages). “Today’s distributorships are shifting their compensation models to attract and keep top talent, and it’s a clear message that commission-only plans don’t entice the majority of salespeople. In the near future, a hybrid model of salary and commission may very well become the industry standard.”

Highlights from the Advantages Sales Compensation Survey include:

  • Average annual earnings for sales reps have remained flat the last three years, with a 2017 average of $83,459
  • More than half of salespeople get charged back for errors or non-payment of their orders
  • Fewer sales managers are earning commission based on profit
  • Four in 10 industry companies offer a 50/50 profit split; two in 10 offer less than 30% for the rep
  • 55% of distributors do not offer health insurance, though the total has decreased
  • 85% of sales reps are staying put and not actively looking for a new job – down two percentage points from last year.

The online 2017 Advantages Sales Compensation Survey fielded responses from readers of Advantages magazine from March to April 2017.

For more information on the annual survey, please contact C.J. Mittica at [email protected]. For info on advertising in any of ASI’s four magazines, contact Matt Barnes, ASI’s vice president of publishing and media services, at [email protected].

About ASI
The Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI®) serves a network of 23,500 suppliers, distributors and decorators in the $23 billion promotional products industry. ASI’s flagship product, the technology platform ESP®, serves the industry’s supply and marketing chain. ASI also produces award-winning digital and print content, live events and educational programs that enable companies in 61 countries to be more efficient, productive and profitable. ASI’s Counselor® magazine provides the most authoritative business content in the industry, and the ASI Certification Program features 500+ live and online education courses for over 40,000 professionals. The company, family owned and operated since 1962, is proud to have been consistently ranked among the “Best Places to Work” in Philadelphia and Bucks County, PA. For more info: