Picture2The Big Four sales jobs: Most major sales organizations have them. They form the bedrock of a robust sales strategy. They perform unique sales functions. And, their compensation is often different.

By participating in the Alexander Group’s “Big Four” survey, you can learn how others pay the Big Four sales jobs. The survey features questions about pay mix, upside, thresholds, performance measures, pay periods and more. Additional questions on quotas and sales crediting round out the survey.

Sales organizations can choose among 60 to 70 different types of sales jobs to cover market opportunities. Most sales organizations use only a subset of these jobs. Many of these jobs support specific industries and markets. However, most companies deploy four key sales jobs—the Big Four—that drive and provision broad-reach field sales organizations:

  • Strategic Account Manager (SAM). The most demanding sales job of the Big Four is the strategic account manager (SAM). The SAM has responsibility for one or more major customers—essentially an external asset of the company. These large customers often require extensive sales innovation, unique solution configuration and broad service commitment. Sales cycles are long, contracts are large, revenue is high and service commitments are multi-year. Recurring revenue often continues over multiple years. The SAM might have a team of people, some operating on a worldwide basis. The numbers are big, and the stakes are high.
  • Key Account Manager (KAM). The key account manager (KAM) is the workhorse of many field sales organizations. These more seasoned, longer service sellers will have a territory of named accounts—the accounts that offer the best opportunity for sales success. Sales leadership culls these accounts from among geographic or vertical segments. The number of assigned accounts is usually less than 100. They are a mixture of buyers, former buyers and non-buyers. At any given time, the KAM is working opportunities with a subset of these customers, shoring up purchases from existing customers, expanding sales, up-selling and cross-selling solutions, winning back lost accounts and opening up new accounts.
  • Territory Representative (Territory Rep). After sales management assigns the SAM and KAM accounts, they assign the remaining accounts to territory sales representatives. While not all sales organizations use SAMs and KAMs, most all have territory representatives. Sales management gives the territory representative a geographic or vertical assignment with all available (or remaining) accounts. The diversity of accounts may be significant. Some territory reps have a prescribed call program; others roam free among their customers and prospects looking for deals and opportunities. It is a matter of numbers: The best sellers ensure continuous contact with customers offering valued products, solutions and services.
  • Channel/Partner Manager. The last of the Big Four is the channel/partner manager. When employing indirect channels, distributors, value-added resellers, integrators, retail chains and agents to name a few, the company needs a factory representative to support its channel/partner network. These channel/partner managers work with the principals of the partners, and the sales personnel and even help make end-user sales calls when appropriate. Not all companies have an indirect channel strategy; others rely extensively and sometimes exclusively on channel partners.

The sales compensation plans for these Big Four jobs usually—and should—vary. We would expect to see differences in the pay mix, the relationship between base and target incentive. We should also see differences in performance measures and, of course, pay frequency. By participating in our Big Four sales compensation practices survey, you will get a contemporary view of how these four sales jobs are paid.

Learn more about the Alexander Group’s sales compensation services.


Insight type: Article

Industry: Cross-Industry

Role: HR/Sales Compensation, Sales and Marketing Leadership

Topic: Sales Comp

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