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Q: How much should we pay our advertising sales people?

Answer: Total compensation for an advertising sales team usually amounts to about 25% of advertising sales revenues, including their base salaries and expenses. Commissions vary, depending on the base salary. I've seen plans that pay a big base and then commissions in the range of 3% to 6%. The alternative is a smaller base and commissions of 10% or more. Outside sales rep firms generally charge 20% plus expenses.

Folio Magazine conducts an annual salary survey among advertising sales people working for established magazine publishing companies. You can search their site for the latest report And they have also converted the results into a tool for estimating compensation based on the size of the magazine, the geographic location, and your own experience level. Use their data to estimate how much your staff sales people should earn.

You can also find out about hiring outside, independent advertising sales reps from a professional group, the National Association of Publishers Representatives. Their site provides a sample advertising sales agreement between a rep and a publisher. They also have a directory of rep firms.

Startup publishers often try to hire a salesperson on a commission-only basis. And sometimes this can be successful. But more often, the publisher must sell ads for a while, until there is enough business to support a salesperson.

More Information

Read everything you need to know about selling ads in our publishing business how-to book, Starting and Running a Successful Newsletter or Magazine. You can learn about creating content, recruiting freelancers, and digital workflows in our new book, Every Nonprofits Guide to Publishing.


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