Advantages’ Sales Compensation Survey Reveals Shifting Payment Trends

Younger distributor sales reps desire alternatives to straight commission pay

TREVOSE, PA – June 27, 2018 – The 2018 Sales Compensation Survey published in the latest issue of Advantages® magazine found straight salary compensation for distributor salespeople and managers in the $23.6 billion promotional products industry continued its upward trend, hitting 21% of all sales personnel this year.

The annual report also found that while older distributor sales reps are still comfortable with commission pay, younger reps increasingly want a hybrid method of salary plus commission or bonus or both.

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.

“The hiring of promo sales reps is going through a significant transformation,” said Advantages Editor-in-Chief C.J. Mittica (@CJ_Advantages). “Firms are having difficulty finding self-starting veterans, so they’ve become creative in identifying their next sales stars. Changing compensation models are the most visible evidence of that shift.”
With national unemployment rates now below 4%, making it harder for companies to attract highly coveted reps and, in particular, younger reps less likely to favor commission, distributor firms are offering generous compensation packages, more guarantees (such as salary, benefits and comprehensive training) and fun work environments.

Overall, job satisfaction in the promo industry remains high, with 61% telling Advantages they are “very satisfied” with their job – well above the 2017 national job satisfaction rate of 50.8%, according to data from the research group Conference Board.

A surprise result: Reps aged 41-50 were less likely to be very satisfied than any other age demographic, with just 38% telling Advantages they’re very happy with their job. This is the first year Advantages included age demographics in its findings.

The annual survey also found that sales rep and manager compensation grew 2% compared to last year, the second year of growth, with average compensation of $84,710.

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.

This year, according to the survey, straight commission dropped from 45% in 2017 to 42%. And while straight commission is still almost twice as prevalent as any other singular compensation plan, straight salaried plans continue to trend upward.

The online 2018 Advantages Sales Compensation Survey fielded responses from readers of Advantages magazine from March to April 2018.

For more information on the annual survey, please contact C.J. Mittica at [email protected]. For info on advertising in any of ASI’s three 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 $23.6 billion promotional products industry. ASI’s flagship product, the technology platform ESP®, manages the industry’s entire supply and marketing chain. ASI also produces award-winning digital and print content, live events and educational programs that enable companies in 55 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: