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Sales salaries in France and Germany 2024

Sales salaries in France and Germany 2024

French employees do not like to talk about their own income, and especially after many years of employment in a company, it is difficult to estimate one's salary correctly. Likewise, when you first enter the German job market, be it as a salesperson or as a foreign company, you often don't have a clear and reliable idea about the salary level of a sales representative there. In both countries, the region in which you work and the gross-net calculation play an important role. We will explain which criteria are used to calculate the salary of office and field staff, sales managers and key account managers in France and Germany.

Understanding salaries in France & Germany

1. Understanding salaries in France & Germany

On the first look, salaries seem less consistent in France than in Germany. As staffing is concerned, it can seem as though companies were permanently preparing for difficult times instead of planning for growth. This can be the case both in big companies and in small companies with difficulties in their sales department. Consequently, in France, people are willing to accept less qualified jobs first, if there is a prospect of more appropriate pay later on, which is not at all the case in Germany.

Moreover, the cost of living in France is higher than in other countries, even though prices largely depend on the regions you are comparing. During the recent inflation, for example, direct price comparisons between an identical set of products bought in supermarkets in Paris were 30 euros more expensive than in other French towns.

However, multiple compensating factors come into play:

  • Direct taxation of wages is lower than in Germany

  • Social security contributions on the employer's side are much higher in France

  • While the company car for salespeople is a must in Germany, There are more types of payment in kind in France. Among the most common are: Restaurant vouchers used to finance the employee's lunch, profit-sharing, participation for daily travel costs, company asset-building plans and supplemental health insurance, providing the employee with better access to medical care

In this complex balance, foreign companies are often faced with a dilemma. If they pay according to the local rate, this can have a negative impact on the salary structure in the parent company. If they pay a global rate, the sales team in question may suffer demotivation when comparing their revenue with the local competition.

Sales are not humanitarian work ; salespeople want purchasing power, and that doesn’t come cheap in France. In summary, if you want to retain reliable and experienced French commercial employees, you have to pay them at the local going rate. The different components of the pay depend on the different types of salespeople: sedentary, field, sales managers, key account managers…

Recrutement franco-allemand Eurojob-Consulting

Beginner salesperson salaries in Germany & France, where to start?

Disclaimer: The following information is not binding. They correspond to communicated salaries and therefore do not constitute admissible benchmarks. In order to follow the realities of the labor market and the current economic situation, our partner, the German-French personnel consultancy Eurojob-Consulting, has included the following factors:

  • Accounting balances of the companies

  • Job offers

  • reported statistics of the Federal Employment Agency, Pôle Emploi and Apec

A difference of +/- 15% with your payroll is perfectly normal, as some criteria cannot be taken into account, such as the financial situation of the employer, individual benefits etc.

It should be generally understood that field sales staff earn the most and office-based staff the least. Combined with the regional standard as explained above, and the academic level, this gives us the starting salaries.

For example, in distribution, the average starting salary for holders of a bachelor's degree is 41,053 euros per year. Master's degree holders can expect an average salary of 47,821 euros. At the beginning of your sales career, the variable part of the salary already represents 10% of its total.

Starting salaries for new sales employees are highest in Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia, where the average starting salary is between 45,400 and 46,776 euros per year. The most interesting areas for new salespeople are the oil industry and medical technology.

With a master's degree and a position as a field salesperson in these areas, the starting salary will be as high as 52,248 euros per year on average. Holders of a bachelor's degree won’t be badly off either, with an average starting salary of 33,448 euros. The least interesting salaries are those of salespeople working in customer service: 39,618 euros per year for holders of a master's degree and 30,814 euros per year for holders of a bachelor's degree.

The average salary as a sales employee in France is around €38,000, with 80% of salaries here ranging from €28,000 to €55,000.

In contrast, the average salary for managers is around €45,000, with a salary range between €31,000 and €77,000 (including commission).

Salaries in industrial production have hardly risen in recent years, only somewhat in the consumer goods industry.

Salaries in the manufacturing industry vary widely. For example, the average salary is about 35,000 euros per year, key account managers can already exceed 75,000, sales directors even 100,000 euros.

Salaries in the IT sector look quite different again, as this industry is increasingly in demand. In addition, it can be seen that even with only 2 years of professional experience, leading positions can already be taken on.

For further detail, please refer to this article: Sales salaries in France - Inside Sales, Outside Sales, Sales Manager, Key Account Manager

The modifying factors - regions, company size, industry, experience

2. The modifying factors - regions, company size, industry, experience

As we proceed to look at some numbers, let us focus on Germany this time.

Salaries by region in Germany

This table shows the differences in wages depending on the Bundesland in which the company is located in Germany.

Bundesland Average local salary for salespeople
Baden-Württemberg 45 400 euros
Bavaria 45 734 euros
Berlin 40 714 euros
Brandeburg 35 441 euros
Bremen 35 786 euros
Hamburg 43 686 euros
Hesse 44 771 euros
Lower Saxony 38 942 euros
Mecklenburg-West Pomerania 33 782 euros
North Rhine-Westphalia 46 773 euros
Rhineland-Palatinate 39 441 euros
Saarland 38 283 euros
Saxony 38 925 euros
Saxony-Anhalt 37 286 euros
Schleswig-Holstein 39 933 euros
Thuringia 32 000 euros

Salaries by company size

Secondly, salaries vary depending on the size of the company. For an equivalent position, a small company will offer an average salary of 41,519 euros, while a company with more than 1,000 employees will offer a starting salary of approximately 48,000 euros.

Company size Average salary for salespeople
1–500 employees 41 519 euros
501–1 000 employees 45 077 euros
More than 1,000 employees 48 310 euros

Salaries by industry

The sectors of activity in which the remuneration is the most interesting as a beginner are the following:

  • Medical technology with an average salary of 52,750 euros

  • Chemical and petroleum industry with an average salary of 52,080 euros

  • Electrical engineering, fine mechanics and optics with an average salary of 49,476 euros

  • Metal industry with an average salary of 47,938 euros

  • Automotive industry with an average salary of 47,821 euros

Salaries by experience

After starting out with a good salary, you should know that it will also evolve according to your years of professional experience.

Field > 2 years experience 3-5 years experience 6-10 years experience > 10 years experience
Traveling salesperson 50 880 euros 51 562 euros 56 147 euros 61 071 euros
Sedentary salesperson 39 713 euros 46 284 euros 52 813 euros 53 609 euros
Key Account Manager 57 458 euros 68 054 euros 69 850 euros 79 034 euros
Client support 32 400 euros 39 000 euros 40 618 euros 77 778 euros
Clerc 40 278 euros 49 077 euros 58 000 euros 65 848 euros
Order processing 38 385 euros 40 643 euros 48 625 euros 49 615 euros

As an account manager with about 10 years of professional experience, you can expect the highest salary, which is 79,034 euros on average.

Field sales representatives as well as office-based sales representatives working in customer service have an average salary of 77,500 euros after 10 years of professional experience.

This means that in the field of customer service the salary increases by about 45,400 euros over a time span of 10 years.

Recrutement franco-allemand Eurojob-Consulting

3. The variables

A sales person is constantly judged by their results. Their salary, often consisting of a variable part (commission), depends on their ability to deliver. They must achieve the objectives that have been set for them. This implies constant pressure.

Currently, more than 55 % of the sales staff in Germany receive commission on signed sales contracts. This commission varies according to the results and is usually set at 10 % of the achieved turnover for young professionals.

However, they still very much count on stability and regular income. Because of this, salaries are 20 % to 50 % higher than elsewhere. In France, since pay is lower, the expectations for variable income are even more important.

If the competing companies make better offers or if you work less, your salary will be reduced. Also keep in mind that if your sales do not improve for a certain period of time, the probability of being laid off increases.

However, for many salespeople, it is this variable part of the salary that makes their job attractive, as it allows them to have a direct influence on how much they make.

The commission can be paid when the contract is signed, or be linked to certain objectives, represent a defined share of the turnover or depend on a fixed number of products sold. It can also depend on the turnover of an entire team, as a common bonus, divided equally among all team members or shared proportionally to the turnover each one has achieved.

In general, the commission is paid once a month at the same time as the fixed salary. For the sake of clarity, both components of the salary are detailed on the payslip.

Please note: The variable part must be taken into account for the calculation of taxes and social security contributions. This is done automatically for jobs subject to compulsory social insurance.

To find out exactly what the salary for your open position or your future job in France or Germany should be, you can reach out to Eurojob's experts for a free estimate.