Is It Fair That Sales People Make Significantly More Than Engineers?

As both our integrator salary and manufacturer salary results show, sales people make significantly more than their engineering counterparts - on average, 35%.

Is that fair? Is that how it should be?

Poll:

Case For

The typical case for sales people making more is that they are the ones who bring in revenue, not engineers and that they have to face rejection from customers and risk of being fired if they don't make their numbers.

Case Against

The typical case against sales people making more is that they make mistakes / cause problems that engineers need to clean up / fix and that sales increased pay is due to their aggressiveness in getting paid rather than value delivered.

What do you think?

Comment inside.


Money isn't everything. They also tend to get all of the recognition, something the technical people almost never get either. I would settle for that.

I left my last job partially because of this. I had customers calling me direct to help them because they didn't trust their sales person. We had a lot of issues with Sales people selling jobs that then we would have to go clean up at great expense to the company. There went all the profit made from that job and then some. Think the Sales person lost their commission on the job? Nope. On paper looking at numbers yes Engineers are an "expense" but in reality they are an invaluable tool that greatly assists the company. I don't necessarily want to make more than the Sales person but I would like a share in the profit for jobs I have to deal with. By that I mean the typical high base and low commission type of compensation.

Whats not said, is that a lot of high level sales people are, well educated, engineers, seasoned veterans of the sales industry. Years of failures and lessons learned to achieve success

A company rep. that gets sales commissions off the total of the quarterly sales of the company, not on thier direct sales

and what carl said is right on, the person who does most of the work, is not the person who makes most of the money.

Industry wide, the people who make the most are those who get commissions off others hard work and total sales

It's all about risk. The highest commission rates are paid to the sales person with little or no base salary. I was an operations person who disliked most sales people for all the reasons. Then I realized I wouldn't have a job if they didn't bring in sales. I've known several amazing sales engineers who should have moved into sales and had positions made available to them. They turned it down. Why? The base salary was lower and they couldn't risk not making at least their same earnings. They focused on what they couldn't do instead of what they could. The life if a sales guy from outside is dinners, lunches and golf. An engineer sits in an office and never misses a ball game with the family as he clocks out at 4:55 exactly every day. The field sales engineer gets his day handed to him and plays hero reaping all the praise. Right?

Maybe in certain environments Engineers sit in the office all day but all the Security Engineers I have talked to are basically a jack of all trades. Training, engineering, system configurations, etc. On top of that engineers have certifications to maintain that cost money and a lot of time. For the Field Sales Engineer what do mean he "gets his day handed to him"? I did a lot of Field Engineering and it's no fun when everything goes wrong and you have the top people at vthe customers company standing over your shoulder wondering why things aren't fixed already. Yes sometimes you do get to play the hero and gain the customers trust which is more valuable then some Sales Person taking them out to dinner. They are going to remember when their system crashed and the Engineer fixed it. They'll remember when the Sales person messed up that quote or system and the Engineer fixed it. They will not remember that dinner they got for free. Sales Engineers help build trust and the relationships. Are all Sales people that way? No they are not. I worked with some great Sales people. But there are far more that are sell it, move on and get paid rather than building those relationships that bring in long term customers that will pay more for you and your services.

Unless I misunderstand, this is not about sales engineers. It is about engineers. Sure it is fair. While it is a team effort to be sure, everything begins with sales. To use a sports anology, stars get paid more than role players. In part because they are more talented, but also because they put butts in the seats. There are lots of unemployed talented engineers in the world. There are very few TALENTED sales persons that are unemployed.

Sales guys get paid more because they are more talented and the "star" of the game? Worst. Analogy. Ever.

Sales guys make more because sales guys are closer to the money. Just like any other position that prioritizes high risk for high reward, it draws people that are aggressively pursuing compensation. No sales guy says "money's not that important to me."

It is completely fair for sales guys to make significantly more money because they are willing to accept significantly more risk.

If you want a sports analogy, a talented sales manager is like a quarterback. He knows what the obstacles to closing the deal are, and can manage the rest of the team toward that goal. The QB gets a lot of recognition, but isn't neccessarily the star or the most talented person.

"There are lots of unemployed talented engineers in the world. There are very few talented sales persons that are unemployed."

I don't really find that to be true. If anything, when the economy contracts, Sales seems to shed people the fastest.

I once met a guy named Paul Severino (Wellfleet/Bay Networks founder, not the ESPN host) at an alumni function of the univeristy I attended. I remember something he told me: "Salespeople are very predictable....always make them work for commission, NEVER limit their compensation, and they WILL perform. But also allocate some small commission to engineering, because without a great product they would have nothing to sell".

In my experience so far, as a technical guy I can say that most salespeople really are worth the compensation. I used to think that good engineering sold itself, but it does not.

Related to this, I wonder how the compensation delta will evolve over time, especially as the Internet reduces the power of 'pure relationships' and increases the value of knowledge.

I wouldn't overestimate this power of the Internet over relationships. For the consumer sector, yes. For the commerical sector, larger jobs, careers that may be at risk by buying a bad system, less so. The Internet may increase pricing transparency, but actual knowledge? Less so.

"The Internet may increase pricing transparency, but actual knowledge? Doubt it."

There are a lot of Fortune 500 end users and universities who have IPVM accounts and log on every week. From your comment, you'd evidently be quite surprised.

You really don't think the Internet increases actual knowledge of end users purchasing products? I think most would disagree with you. I even hear this from sales people, who readily acknowledge that the customer is far more informed today than they were a decade ago.

To be clear, I am not arguing that sales people will be replaced for large commercial accounts. Just that those sales people will have to be more knowledge and less reliant on golf and steaks with end user who have far more access to information.

I should have qualified this further...or said "less so" instead of "doubt it". Maybe I should edit that.

What I mean is that the Internet surely increases price transparency, and knowledge of what products exits, sure. But I doubt it can AS effectively replace the boots on the ground experience of what products should be used in what circumstances.

The Internet makes it easier to get feedback from experienced people about what is working, regardless of the domain.

That's the big challenge I see for the old school sales guy from small time sleazy integrators. In the past, there were very few people who challenged them because it was hard to reach or hear from truly knowledge people. This has changed a lot and will continue to do so.

To that, and we've touched on this in other discussions, it is also impacting the type of person who is a successful sales person, who is becoming more technical. Yes/no?

I don't think there is much daylight between us on this. If you are interested in acquiring a deep interest in anything, the Internet is an invaluable tool in helping you learn, helping you find people with knowledge, experience, etc. It does democratize information, for sure. My initial comment was not directed to any group in particular (end users or otherwise). While the Internet may help educate interested parties, I don't see it alone replacing the human element of transactions where reputations and large sums of money are at stake.

@Jason. I guess you missed the part where I was identifying stereotypes. You are right that every member of a team needs to stand up and play their part well. The question is, was I wrong in the reason many qualified company and sales support people don't jump into sales?

Sorry I did not recognize the stereotype, my bad :) I do not know anyone elses reasoning but let me give you my reasoning. Part of the reason was the uncertainty of pay but the bigger part was how it was structured. There were so many rules in place that not even the Sales people knew them all. You were also comp'd additional to sell services I wasn't particularly happy with and you basically had to lie to sell them which I am not comfortable doing.

I think a strong organization would recognize their sales people types and put them in nthe correct place. The aggresive "say anything to win the job" people are needed but they need to have the correct role and be in front of the right customers. The realtionship builders need to have the correct role as well and be put in front of the right customers to survive. You cannot jam all your sales people into one peg hole and expect them to excel. I would say you even need seperate comp plans for the different type of sale people.

Salespeople get the company cars; the club memberships; the free trips; the fat bonuses and the awards dinners, to name but a few perks. Why is that? Because most upper management comes from the sales department.

The biggest issue I've seen in my adult working life is that sales (and related management) have absolutely no clue what engineers and technicians contribute. We are expected to understand what Sales (and related management) needs to accomplish for the good of the company but they think technical people are a dime a dozen. It shows in starting pay - I've worked for companies that start highly-qualified technical people at barely above the level of McDonald's workers and passed them over for raises and promotions; saying they can always find someone else to do their job for less.

Those same companies and managers expect miracles from their technical people without supplying the tools to perform those miracles.

Spot on Carl.

Engineers like to complain that salesmen are clueless babies, but most engineers would fail miserably as salesmen.

Customers aren't compelled to buy from introverts that hedge every claim with 'it depends'. Rather customers buy from those who overly state they have the right answer and who are extroverted enough to become an advocate for someone who hasn't paid them anything yet.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the relative courage of salespeople. As an engineer, it's really easy to fling mud at them and all the stereotypes.

But I've learned that good salespeople just don't care. They'll keep plugging way until they find something that works without turning sour.

I admire the emotional resolve it takes to be a salesperson. Engineers without salesmen would be out of work.

Why is that? Because most upper management comes from the sales department.

Why not continue that line of thought a bit further? Is it a federal mandate?

No at all. Engineers get promoted into upper management positions all the time. Assuming your observation is correct though, it implies that, overall those companies that do promote engineers are doing worse than those who don't. Hence they don't grow as fast, hence they don't have as many employees, hence you don't see them as much.

Why don't engineers do as well in upper management?

If you get more satisfaction by making more money - then go for it; get into sales. If money does not motivate you, stay the hell out of sales. - Marty Major

Maybe because upper management is more like sales, and revolves more around making money, and therefore is better done by people motivated by money?

We all know Tom the brilliant Tech, who was so good at engineering that he wound up being VP of whatever, and now just sits in his high paying office and wishes he was back working on a bench, with a team trying to actually do something real, instead of some ridiculous powerpoint presentation for a bunch of stuffed shirts.

Of course there are many exceptions, yourself no doubt included.

But in general, its simple Darwinian economics, i.e. capitalism, that is to blame.

"Assuming your observation is correct though, it implies that, overall those companies that do promote engineers are doing worse than those who don't."

And this was undoubtedly true historically. But you look at the Silicon Valley companies of the last 5 to 10 years and it's clear that engineering lead companies are doing much better.

Why? Because it is easier now for companies with excellent products to sell and market without resorting to the traditional sales guy. Agree/disagree?

Be more specific. Give an example of a company lead by engineers.

Every one of the hundreds of companies that get into Ycombinator.

In our space, specifically, Dropcam. Two of the least persuasive, charismatic people I've ever seen. And despite that, kudos to them for making more money in a few years that most sales people will make in their whole life.

Engineer led successful tech startups are now the rule. It's the sales person or MBA lead startup that is the exception.

Engineer led successful tech startups are now the rule. It's the sales person or MBA lead startup that is the exception.

Don't be fooled. These people are clearly hybrids of both types, and that is what the market is valuing. They are more Jobs-ian than Wozn-ian. Their engineering side just gets stressed (sometimes exaggerated) a lot more because its become fashionable. As in Geek is Cool.

For instance, take a guy like John Honovich, how would you classify him?

Engineer or Sales? If he's pressed for an answer, I bet he's way more likely to describe himself as an engineer than an Internet sales and marketing type.

Yet, this discussion would not even be taking place were it not for his ample marketing efforts.

People think that they are adding to their value when they learn sales as an engineer, or vice versa. They are wrong; they are really multiplying their value, and that's when the big bucks start rolling in. Except when you multiply by zero.

They might be hybrids between engineering and (online) marketing but rarely are they hybrids between sales and engineering. By sales, I mean the types that go out and close deals person to person.

I think there is an important distinction between the two because the temperament and skills to succeed at online marketing is far closer to engineering than is sales.

The temperament and skills to succeed at online marketing is far closer to engineering than is sales.

One would assume then that you feel the skills and temperment of online marketers are 'far' from traditional marketers, since old-school Engineering and old-school Marketing are about as close as Mathematics and Political Science.

As for online marketing and engineering being somehow close in temperment, I think you may be confusing fluency in the tools of online marketing with online marketing itself. Although economic advantages exist now for a single person who is able to 'wear two hats', i.e., write code the one hand and come up with a marketing strategy on the other, they remain two hats.

You just see those 'special' types of people more now, because those who can do both have great advantage to do so. I believe sales and and engineering to have similar hybrids, and though admittedly the exception, they are easily found since they of often rise to the top levels of their organizations because of their skills:

  • Steve Jobs
  • Larry Ellison
  • Bill Gates
  • Jeff Bezos

All of them closed many a deal person to person as well being an engineer. If you look at any orginization that's big enough you find them, be it the pre-sales tech who is the real closer of the deal or the tech turned sales who can do it on their own.

Silicon Valley is heavily populated by VC-funded speculative startups, most of which will fail. If you filter only the actual successful companies there with sustainable revenue, I would suspect that their internal structure has a more traditional Sales/Engineering model.

If you look at the wealth generation / money in tech startups, overwhelmingly it goes to engineers. The sales guys are brought on later to scale. And they may make their $300k a year, but it is the engineers who make far more total.

John, I agree 110%. The game is changing, at least in more technical fields. And it's not just Silicon Valley. Look at Elon Musk and Tesla/SpaceX/Solar City. Elon is an Engineer who has become a Business Magnate. And he's showing ULA (Lockheed Martin / Boeing), NASA and Detroit a thing or two.

There is a place for Techies in our world and many of the top tech companies were started by Techies. There's a great article in Time Magazine that's well worth reading. Its focus is on Engineers versus MBAs but the idea is the same.

Curiously and coincidentally, Brian speculates on the reason for the underperformance of engineering based teams here, when discussing FUZ's Noke Padlock...

Given that earlier [disappointing non-noke] efforts were championed by technical, engineering based teams, but lacked the hands-on experience of transitioning a product from idea stage into reality, Noke's management team may be the difference.

That comment is that experience is invaluable. It doesn't contrast sales vs. engineering talent at all.

"Smart people are good. Smart people that know how to do specific things are better at doing those specific things."

Not so fast. Your comment seems to indicate technical knowledge is not sufficient, no?

The issue is why did Teo not raise as much kickstarter money as Noke did, even though its been around longer. Let's remember that neither product has shipped so the real engineering value of these products is untested.

Basically we have a marketing contest between Noke and TEO. TEO is primarily the brainchild of a inventor, tinkerer and owner of a tech company. Noke on the other hand is run by two guys, one of whom is fully marketing and product development.

Two indications that Teo is over-engineering driven. Their kickstarter page doesn't link to a facebook one, and the last sentence of their pitch is the honest but wind-sucking "Teo takes batteries, batteries run-out. That's why were working on a Teo Fob..."

I see John says marketing is more like engineering than sales(!) above, so I don't want to derail the thread anymore.

I don't see this phenomenon as something that is either fair or unfair - it simply is what is.

The two roles rely on innately different skill sets (though the best of each side generally posses some of the skill sets of the other).

If you get more satisfaction by making more money - then go for it; get into sales. If money does not motivate you, stay the hell out of sales.

If you get more satifaction out of fixing things and making stuff work (and helping others overcome difficulties they face) - then go for it; get into support. If helping people does not motivate you, stay the hell out of support.

Doing what you are good at + doing what you like doing = success.

I agree with you, I just wish companies would recognize this as well. Instead my last company looked at engineers as just an expense.

that's why it is your last company...glad to see you escaped! :)

Everyone wants to feel valued; it's kind of a thing with us humans. Good management understands this.

I agree that there are many places where management undervalues their technical people.... and lots of these companies eventually fail having no idea what killed them. :(

So the answer appears to be, 'find good management' if you want to feel valued.

Oh yeah... and don't forget:

Salary is a direct correlation to ones value. Why would any smart business owner willingly pay someone more than they are worth?

If engineers were more valuable, they would be paid more. Basics of free market capitalism.

If you think it is easy to roll into a company and convince the well educated C level executives that they need to do business with you instead of the other 20 companies knocking on their door, by all means…give it a shot.

Man…the thought that someone thinks that it is somehow “unfair” is laughable. What’s stopping you from making the same money? Stop whining about equality and fairness and go do it.

Great comments, Mike. I think all of us in the Technical and Engineering trades should move to Sales. In fact, they should close down Engineering schools and replace them with Sales schools. After all, we are the unwanted stepchildren of our industry and I know more than a few salespeople who think they can sell anything without knowing anything about what they're selling. So, by all means, ignore the value of the Engineers and Technicians. Who cares if you don't have anything new to sell?

Ok, I think that's enough on this aspect. Please no more and let's avoid it getting heated or personal.

I thought this discussion was specifically about fairness and equality, not about value. My apologies.

Everyone in a business model has value or they wouldn’t be there.

The ‘Case Against’ scenario is somewhat flawed in the example provided. Most reputable companies base commissions on project profitability thus impacting the sales salary. Additionally, the ‘Case Against’ is based on the premise that all or most sales professionals are allegedly making mistakes that the engineers have to fix. What model is this? Sales Engineer (pre-sales), Integrator Engineer, Manufacture Product Engineer? I mean that whole blanket statement is so broad.

"Most reputable companies base commissions on project profitability thus impacting the sales salary."

That's a great point to bring up! Next week, I'll start a discussion to get a sense of who bases commissions on net profits vs gross sales.

p.s - I guess I know a lot of disreputable companies ;)

Mike, I started a discussion on Sales Commissions - Based On Revenue Or Profits? and so far the poll votes on what is most typically used is overwhelmingly for revenue based commissions.

There is a old axiom in business that says: "If a company has enough sales revenue, nothing else matters, and if a company doesn't have enough sales revenue, nothing else matters". The theory is if the company has enough sales revenue coming in, they can buy their way out of problems, eventually getting the execution part right, but not having enough sales can be fatal no matter how well every other part of the company is run.

Believers of this theory place a higher value on the sales function than any other function in the company and therefore compensate sales people better than anyone else.

I know that in our industry, I have seen many, many companies started by brilliant engineers and technicians fail because the owners couldn't get the sales and management part down correctly. Conversely, I have seen many technically-inferior companies succeed because their sales and marketing departments could churn out large volumes of sales despite the technical limitations of their products.

I think one question I have on this topic is: How do you quantify engineers' value?

Sales is (relatively) simple. Is the salesperson bringing in enough income to pay for themselves? If yes, fine, sky's the limit. Make a million bucks if you can, salesperson. If not, you've either paid them too much or overestimated the market or miscalculated something.

For an engineer, though, how do you quantify how much money "making something work" has generated or saved the company? How much should each nugget of knowledge be worth?

And before I get pounced on, I do think a lot of tech folks are underpaid. I've just heard a lot of the same sentiment without any comment on how it should be changed with numbers to back it up.

"Sales is (relatively) simple. Is the salesperson bringing in enough income to pay for themselves?"

If Sam the sales guy sells a million dollar project and Ethan the engineer implements it, what is the difference? Couldn't you equally say that Ethan is worth the same for making the million dollar project work?

"If yes, fine, sky's the limit."

In practice, this is typically not the case, especially over a multi-year period. Companies realize that a lot of the power of a salesperson comes from the quality of product and marketing of the company. That's why quotas get raised, sometimes extremely to stop the sky being the limit for sales people.

That would be a juicy topic: "How often does a proven 'rainmaker' leave on good terms?"

Either the company feels screwed over because they leave for a better position, or the salesperson feels screwed (a victim of their own past success?) because management kept increasing expectations.

I have to think amicable separation between key salespeople and management are rare, despite what the PR/HR release reads.

I don't think there is any formula you can use to set an Engineers value. Like Marty said in a thread above it comes down to how much does the Management value Engineering. If they value Engineering and understand that a great Engineer (Sales/Field Sales/etc) can make the difference between a project coming in on or under budget or it sinking (not to say good Techs and PMs do not have that as well) then they'll get paid well and taken care of. Management that believes Engineering is a money pit will get paid less and treated as such. It's the same in IT. Either the company believe that IT is a valuable asset that can make the company perform better or they see it as a necessary money pit they must have.

Some people can sit down and run numbers and say that this department or this person isn't generating their worth. That's only one portion of running a business. I believe a good manager can recognize the skill sets of a person, put them in the appropriate place so they excel and ensure they are paid a fair market wage. A poor Manager looks only at numbers tries to fit everyone through the square peg hole to conform to some number or ruleset. If you pay your Engineers/PMs/etc low wages and make them feel as if they're a "money pit" to the company they're going to leave or under perform. So now the company has Engineers performing not at their peak but at half capacity adn they're looking to leave.

I guess in summary there is no equation to figure an Engineers "value" and that it comes down to good Management recognizing their employees, setting them up for success and paying good wages toward the top of the pay scale.

One critical difference is that engineers tend to care less about the 'business', not simply revenue, but costs and profits as well.

The stereotypical bad sales person at least is focused on increasing revenue, even if he makes mistakes and sets up unrealistic expectations.

The stereotypical bad engineer does not care about anything except whatever technical issue he is interested in, even if it costs the company 3x as much for him to do that and all the while ignoring opportunities to improve the company's offerings or operational efficiency.

This to me is the biggest issue with many engineers. Why would you pay an engineer more if he does not really care about making the business stronger?

The stereotypical bad engineer does not care about anything except whatever technical issue he is interested in...

The stereotypical bad sales person is at least is focused on increasing revenue...

Would you agree that: The stereotypical bad online marketer is at least focused on increasing revenue...

At least bad salespeople and bad marketers seem alike in their revenue seeking temperment.

And face to face selling has some commonalities with one to one online marketing, i.e. tailoring the delivery of information and methods to a particular individual based on known customer data. I guess I don't see engineering and online marketing as similar, but since you're the clearly the expert at both, I'll just STFU. :)

"I don't see engineering and online marketing as similar"

Unlike sales, crucially, neither involves dealing with people in real life. Both center on running tests, evaluating numbers, and iterating from a computer.

Seriously tugs argument is still going! Exchange for Doctor and CEO of company or teacher and plumber. Different skill sets equals different compensation. Engineers focus on all the bad sales people, not mentioning all the good ones who rarely needed their valuable resources and the sales guys have no idea what the entire process involved on the complex installations. But that is not every experience. Money is usually tied to risk acceptance.

"Is It Fair That Sales People Make Significantly More Than Engineers?"

Since when is wage "fairness" based upon the relationship between two different roles?

An employer needs to pay a wage that attracts the right person for that particular position. It needs to pay for sales what it takes to attract and keep sales talent adaquate to do the job. It needs to pay for engineers what it takes to attract and keep engineers adaquate to do the job. Where the two salaries end up should be no relation to each other.

Whether you are in sales or engineering, if you don't like your income -- switch jobs or go somewhere else. And don't forget the third option of upgrading your skills in your chosen field. I'm always amazed at how uncommon it is for sales people in this industry to have any kind of formal sales training.

Since when is wage "fairness" based upon the relationship between two different roles?

Antiquity. It has been argued that Cain pridefully viewed his profession as livestock herder as being superior to that of Abel's occupation of famer of the fields, and therefore found it fair to pay less tribute than Abel, leaving more wages for himself. Although this opinion of course was later most famously rejected by the Power that Be.*

Slavery and various forms of indentured servitude have been both justified and condemned since at least Homer's age. A more recent example would be that of the 'fairness' controversy of the disparity of Apple executive compensation vs. suicidal foxconn workers bare subsistence pittance.

To try answer the question meaningfully, it can be helpful to preface it with: 'Assuming life itself were fair, would it be fair that Sales People...?

*note to Bible Thumpers and Bashers alike: I am not testifying to the actual occurrence or even the 'correct interpretation' of these events, but only that such literary notions as role/wage justice have existed since ancient times.

If I pay an engineer twice as much as another engineer, that doesn't mean I'll get twice as much productivity or twice as "good" of a product. I pay engineers based on supply and demand of engineers.

Sales people on the other hand who are paid based largely on commission are a different beast. If they're making twice as much on commission then by definition they're selling twice as much and there's no reason I can't pay them more to provide motivation.

The company doesn't exist to ensure fair compensation between individuals from different diciplines. Rather, they look at both as resources the value of which is relative to other similar resources not relative to each other.

Well, If your sucessful in either field you deserve all the money you make. It take drive, passion, persistance and knowledge (wisdom) to get there either in engineering or sales. Risk is a big factor also. Usually the more risk you take the better you will be paid when sucessful.

The true issues I find is that sales people are not usually sucessful due to thier abilities. Its usually a combination of great product and a great market(terrioty). They usually fall into it not by design but by accident. Since I have a smidgin of technical knowhow I will also say that true great engineers end up with thier own companies. Look at Jobs, Gates, Larry Elison they had drive passion, persistance and clarity of task. They owned thier own worlds. Tell me which ones graduated from Collage with Engineeriing degrees. Even though I do not manage direclt engineers, I will tell you the cream rises to the top and I would always choose the people to run task forces. They would usually end up as VP or Director Level of product responsibleility. They make big bucks.

No one owes anyone money because they have a degree or a specific mindset. In this lousy world of our you are paid what your worth. Not hwat you think your worth. The market is almost perfect in this regards. So I would look at myslef first to see what I am doing incorrect before blaming other for my lack of sucess. How much am I sacrifying to get there etc. Eventually, that over paid sales person will get clobbered by good competition. Thier soecila market will be carved up by managment etc. Then they will have many years of under performance. Same with average or sub per engineeriing type. They are usually on the fast track to nowhere.

Who gets paid more? What to you like more apples or melons. Great engineers are paid very well, great sale people are also very well paid. They two types usually like to dace together, know each others strength and compliment it.

Thats the reality of life. PS, the VC (money) runs the valley. Elon needs money and knows how to sell his ideas.

Rocky Balboa knows... you have to go out and get what you are worth:

I started out in this industry as a tech and moved into sales. So from that perspective, I see both sides. I have never understood the schism between sales/engineering that happens all to often as I have always know that a good tech is worth his weight in gold to me as a sales guy. He makes me look good. That in mind- myself and other sales guys that I know share the love. Lunches, small bonuses if we hit them, whatever... It doesn't really take much to acknowledge the hard work and I TRULY appreciate and recognize my techs/engineers hard work. If you are a smart sales guy, you get this.

Now, that being all said, I absolutely should make more money, I am sorry boys. I have far more risk in my job, I travel more, am away from my family more, work longer hours (weekends and nights) because thats what the deal is in sales. That's what it takes. I don't get to clock out. I am exchanging emails at midnight in a hotel with my manager about my numbers.

And yes, things are all roses when we are hitting our numbers but trust me, we don't always hit them. The months we don't.....you don't get the daily email/phone calls pounding the crap out of you about what is coming in and where. If that happens a few times, you can be out a job.

C, Good feedback. I agree with the risk and stress part.

Sales people are typically the first people to be blamed for problems, regardless of who's fault it really is. Product might have problems, competitiveness might have fallen off, doesn't matter, easier typically to blame sales....

John defending a sales guy.....can we start a separate discussion on that topic?

Interesting perspectives in this thread. Some of the themes seem to be "Risk vs. Reward", "Getting Paid what you're worth" and "The cream rises to the top"

I have been in Sales most of my career. Before Sales I was a science teacher. BTW, I don't believe teachers get paid nearly enough and that was one reason that drove me out of teaching. I have also owned and managed companies and have had to deal with what to pay someone.

Before I address some of those thoughts, I personally believe everyone is "Selling" something. Most often I see people getting looked over for raises and promotions because they didn't "sell" themselves to the right people. As stated in this thread, great Engineers tend to get promoted to higher paid positions, but only when they make sure that they are recognized. I have seen great Engineers never make it off the ground floor and mediocre Engineers rise much farther than they should because they made friends with the right people and made sure to take credit for everything that went right while blaming others when things went wrong. (OK, maybe an exaggeration here for dramatic effect, but you get the picture.) My own father was a mediocre Engineer that made it to Upper Management because he fought for it!

"Risk vs. Reward" this is very true. In fact, the highest paid salespeople (and the lowest paid people) are usually 100% commission types, like Real Estate and Multilevel Marketing positions. There is a saying that Salespeople are the best paid position (when they are selling) and the worst paid position (when they are not). I agree that tying some sort of bonus or compensation to the performance of the engineer would be great, but then would there be a risk of them trying to get onto the jobs that are going to be easier and more profitable, rather than fixing every problem with the same enthusiasm? I still think everyone is motivated by the opportunity to make more money though, even if it is the mere recognition that comes from the bonus. Risk value also shows up with Engineers that start their own company or patent their own ideas, such as Jobs and the like. Although, these people have to be great salespeople too. They would never get the funding or the support they need to succeed if they can't convince someone with money to invest into them either directly or by purchasing what they have to offer. There are many stories of companies with great ideas or technology that never get off the ground. I do not believe that a great product or service sells itself, unless there is NO competition and high visibility of the product/service and even then the product/service would have to be mind-numbingly simple to understand and have overwhelming value. Buying is emotionally driven in most cases. Very few people purchase anything purely through a logical and premeditated process. There is almost always an emotional response to something that brought them to purchase. That is where the salesperson, or sometimes a great marketing person, comes into play.

"Getting paid what you're worth" I agree that the market pays you what you are worth, but usually only when you ask for it or even demand it. If you don't believe you are getting paid enough, then ask for a raise, even demand it. You will usually get the raise if you are worth it to the company. If you are not, then you may be escorted out of the building... Risk vs. Reward again and selling yourself again! You should do your homework first though and put yourself on the market to see what other companies would be willing to pay you before you storm the castle. You may just find out that you are not worth what you thought you were.

"The cream rises to the top" I agree with this, but only if you demand respect and fight for what you are worth. A business will always look to get the most out of anything, a product, a service or an employee. Great managers and business owners usually reward talent and promote talent, but some reward the wrong behaviors. These types of managers and business owners typically run the business into the ground, so if you work for this type you might start thinking of looking for another company or department to work for.

I find that the people who complain about not getting paid enough are usually either not worth it or have no self-worth. If you are not worth it, recognize it and do something about it (educate yourself and create value, maybe take on the extra job or do the difficult stuff that no one else wants to do) and if you have no self-worth recognize that and do something about it (Read the self-help books and get away from others who might be bringing you down. Surround yourself with positive people and inspirational environments.)

The fact is that if you are the best at what you do and you demand to be paid what you are worth, then the market will find a way to pay you. Wayne Huizinga started with little education and a single Garbage Truck before building Waste Management and an empire.

Successful salespeople, however, ask for what they want all the time, are not afraid of risk, are super confident in their ability, make sure they are recognized, are persistent and driven and make friends with the right people. That is what they do and that is what the Capitalist, Free, Open Market rewards. If you want to make more money as an Engineer, an Office manager, an Accountant or a Janitor, do all of the things that a Salesperson does and sell yourself and your value to the company. You will be well on your way to making the money or getting the recognition that you deserve!

BTW, I am also the Salesperson who takes the Engineers and Operations staff out to lunch, brings Gatorades to the Installers, gives gifts and flowers to the receptionist, writes great testimonials and reviews of my superiors and "rewards" the people who refer and recommend me. I happen to be one of the top salespeople in my company, go figure?