Press Release – Cologne, June 13, 2018

Sales Professionals’ and IT Experts’ Salaries Three Percent Higher

• One-third fewer field staff to be needed in sales
• IT experts in the financial and chemicals industry earn the most
• Variable pay in sales widespread

Cologne, June 13, 2018

The skills shortage in Germany is a widespread problem, with companies fighting for top talent. So much so, that specialists in some industries are being offered high starting salaries and interesting “lock-in offers” by their potential employers. HR and management consultancy Kienbaum took this as an opportunity to examine the salaries of managers and specialists in marketing and sales as well as in IT roles as part of two new studies.

Key account managers and IT professionals are sought-after specialists

“Again this year we saw that digitization is posing major challenges in the sales industry. The focus has clearly shifted from field staff to key account managers,” says Nils Prüfer, compensation expert at Kienbaum. According to the study, around one third fewer field staff will be required in the future as the skills profile of sales experts changes with the increasing significance of online sales channels and online marketing. “There’s also a change underway in how salaries are made up. We expect to see incentive models more closely linked to corporate strategy and a clear shift towards more flexible target bonus models,” explains Nils Prüfer. The development in online trade is accompanied by an evolution of the labor market for IT specialists. “Development is more considerable amongst programmers. Every company needs a programmer to help them keep pace with digital transformation and as such, it’s important for incentives to be high,” he continues.

Key account managers and IT service managers are the highest earners

Sought-after and well-paid roles in sales were key account managers, product managers, and e-commerce experts. With an annual salary of 92,000 euros, the role of key account manager is one of the highest paid in sales, with compensation the highest in management consulting and the automotive industry. By contrast, marketing specialists typically earned 61,000 euros a year and online marketing specialists 41,000 euros.

For computer scientists, roles that involve customer contact rate highly, with IT service level managers, who are responsible for adjusting individual services to customers, expecting to receive an annual salary of 83,000 euros. Close behind were IT project managers and application analysts on 82,000 euros. On the other hand, administrative IT roles such as IT support workers, user helpdesk specialists, and operators were toward the other end of the salary scale, with annual salaries in the region of 46,000 euros. IT specialists working for banks and in the chemicals industry were typically the highest paid, averaging around twenty percent more than the average across all other industries.

Variable pay and fringe benefits

Variable pay is an important component to compensation in the sales industry. More than 90% of sales managers and key account managers received variable pay, averaging 18% or 11%, respectively, of their overall salary.

Amongst IT managers and employees, variable pay had slightly less importance than in sales, but even here 89% of managers and 74% of specialists received a variable component, averaging 15% and 8% respectively. The company car is still the number-one fringe benefit in sales, enjoyed by 87% of sales managers and 72% of key account managers. In this regard, there was a considerable gap between sales and IT, with only 41% of managers and five percent of specialists in the latter industry enjoying such benefits. “We can attribute this to different priorities—IT professionals don’t really want cars, they want their employers to give them other benefits, and they frequently get them. These include special technical equipment, flexible working models, and grants for their own project ideas with potential benefits for the company,” explains Nils Prüfer of his discussions with customers.

The compensation reports “Führungskräfte und Spezialisten in Marketing und Vertrieb” (Managers and Specialists in Marketing and Sales) and “Führungskräfte und Spezialisten in IT-Funktionen” (Managers and Specialists in IT Roles) are now available online in the Kienbaum Shop at a cost of at a cost of €800 (plus VAT).

The Kienbaum Compensation Portal online application offers exclusive 24/7 access to Kienbaum compensation data of the highest standards of quality. This includes access to the Board Remuneration Analyser, an online tool for analysis of board compensation (in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other European countries), with individual selection by criteria including company name, industry, and company size. Please note: your data are secure with us; the Compensation Portal is the only TÜV-certified online database of compensation data in Germany.


Kerstin Wandt – T.: +49 (221) 801 72-0 | E-Mail:

Contact us for further information

  • Mit Ihrer Kontaktaufnahme erklären Sie sich damit einverstanden, dass Ihre personenbezogenen Daten an die Kienbaum Consultants International GmbH weitergeleitet und zum Zwecke der notwendigen Verarbeitung verwendet werden. Gleichzeitig erklären Sie sich mit der Datenschutzerklärung der Kienbaum Consultants International GmbH einverstanden.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.