Compensation inches up

March 1, 1999

Pharmaceutical Representative

Sales compensation inched upward in 1998, according to Pharmaceutical Representative's annual sales rep compensation survey.

Sales compensation inched upward in 1998, according to Pharmaceutical Representative's annual sales rep compensation survey.

Of the 609 full-time sales reps and 54 full-time managers who responded to the survey and provided data on themselves and their industry experience, 39% said commission and/or bonus accounted for 10% to 19% of their annual income. An additional 27% said commission and/or bonus made up 20% to 29% of their income. Thirteen percent said it accounted for less than 10%, and another 13% of reps and managers said 30% to 39% of their income was earned as bonus or commission.

Life is good at the top, according to our survey results. The percentage of respondents who indicated they were earning more than $80,000 increased 15% over those reporting the same last year. Although fewer than 30% of the reps and managers who responded to the survey fell into this income bracket, the data suggests that companies are doing more to hang on to top talent and experienced reps during this time of heavy recruitment and industry turnover. Fluctuations in the other income brackets were less dramatic, wavering by 1% or 2% per income bracket.

Maintaining company loyalty and establishing an industry presence appear to be the best ways to achieve a six-figure income, according to the survey's more experienced respondents. Among those who reported having more than 10 years of industry experience, roughly one in four reported that they earn $100,000 or more.

Reps who had been in the industry less than two years comprised 31% of the respondents, while those who had two to five years of detailing under their belts accounted for 21% of responses. Together, the two groups totaled more than half of the responses, and set the averages in compensation.

In regard to age, more than half of the sales reps were twenty- or thirtysomethings. Twenty-eight percent reported that they were 25 to 30 years old. Twenty-seven percent fell into the 31- to 35-year old category. Fewer than 10% of reps and managers said they were older than 50.

Knowledge can often compensate for inexperience, however, and respondents indicated high levels of education. More than 60% said they held undergraduate degrees while a whopping 30% claimed graduate degrees as well. A heady 7% indicated they had gone on to earn post-graduate degrees as well.

Gender, race and satisfaction

Earning breakdowns among racial groups were encouraging in some respects, although the overall number of sales reps who reported themselves as minorities was still discouragingly low.

Of the 11% of survey respondents who indicated that they were either black (5%), Asian (2%), Hispanic (3%) or another minority (1%), the greatest percentage of each group reported average or above average compensation. In fact, among black representatives, the greatest number of respondents reported earnings well above the norm.

The greatest discrepancy in earnings was evident in compensation figures reported by male sales reps and managers versus those reported by their female peers. Male respondents outnumbered female respondents, with 380 men and 287 women submitting salary surveys. Of those survey participants, only 12% of men reported below average earnings. More than 25% of women, however, reported the same. On the other end of the scale, while nearly 25% of male respondents reported earning top dollars, only 10% of female sales reps and managers could report the same.

Overall, satisfaction remained high and was even slightly higher than that reported by sales reps last year. Nearly 70% of survey participants felt their compensation was fair, and 11% even reported that they felt their compensation was on the high side. Only 22% said they felt their compensation was low.

Last year, 61% of sales reps said they felt their compensation was average and 28% said they felt their compensation was too low. PR

Related Content:

News