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ASK THE MAM — MARKETING & SALES COMPENSATION

DEAR MAM: How do you determine compensation for a sales and marketing staff? Sincerely yours, TJ, Reading, PA

DEAR TJ: I’ve recently discussed appropriate compensation at a number of firms in the Northeast. I assume your question is in regard to sales and marketing staff at a law firm. For starters, I will divide the answer into “sales” and “marketing”.

In regard to the traditional marketing team, a major factor is geography. For example, without disclosing any confidential client information, the same marketing manager position salary in Philadelphia is significantly higher than the same type of firm in Pittsburgh. I know some relatively inexperienced marketing folks with midlevel jobs that pay close to $100k. In the same market, the exact same CMO job at similarly-situated firms can range from $150-400k, depending on the makeup of the firm and its seriousness and approach to the department. I can tell you that when a headhunter calls me about a CMO gig and says the salary is under 250, I hang up the phone. In other markets, that same 250 would be at the top of the scale.

A consideration for firms in outlying areas from a metro center is being able to draw an experienced “big city” marketer out of the “big city.” Very few are going to take pay cuts for a better QOL, so some firms find themselves increasing offers to draw the expertise. Some firms like the “diamond in the rough” approach, paying a youthful marketing director in the $35-50k range, hoping they develop. The downside is that if they are any good, you’ve proven to be an internship. They will be out the door with two years under his/her belt.

Another factor is the size of the department and the budget to get things done. This is a key factor for prospective employees. In the end, your best bet is someone who really wants to live in your town rather than someone looking for a job, any job. Or simply drawn by salary.

In regard to “sales” staff, as more and more law firms hire people for the sales role, remember that in almost every state, you may not hire someone using a traditional sales compensation model of salary and anything that looks remotely like commission (or in the words of our business, “fee-sharing”). You must be extremely careful how the position is promoted and compensated. The role most likely will morph out of a marketing position, with a greater focus on selling to a target, an industry, or increasing revenue for a partner, practice group or office. I wrap up my answer by reminding you that really good sales people make solid six-figure incomes, with the pressure of the quota. If you are going to get someone with a strong track record, you will need to pay a good six-figure income. If they come real cheap, you will get what you pay for. Thanks for writing. Sincerely yours, THE MARKETING ATTORNEY