The fast cars that often grace reseller car parks are a visible testament to the big money on offer for IT sales reps who bag the biggest deals, or indeed for techies who hold the most sought-after certifications.
But how much does the average reseller employee earn, compared with the average UK worker, and are their pay packets rising in line with the national average?
For the first time, CRN has amassed the data to provide an adequate answer to this question.
Following the launch of Top VARs in 2011, CRN has this year extended the number of resellers whose financial data it tracks from 100 to 250.
The vast majority of these firms divulge in their annual accounts not only revenues and profits, but also staff numbers and wage bills, laying bare a previously untapped gold mine of information.
CRN has aggregated this data in our inaugural Staff and Salaries report, which is one of the launch products for our new CRN Essential service.
Although only subscribers will be able to view the full report, we have been given the go-ahead to reveal some of its top-line findings ahead of the launch.
The study sought to answer:
■ How many staff work at the UK's top 250 resellers, and is this number growing?
■ What do resellers pay their staff on average?
■ How fast are average wages growing, if at all?
■ Which VARs pay their staff the most?
■ How does pay vary between different parts of the country?
■ Which VARs have the highest-paid directors?
■ Is director-level pay going up or down?
■ What level of revenues are resellers generating per employee?
■ What does the ‘average' UK VAR look like, in terms of revenues, headcount and average salary?
With its reputation for big commissions and the promise of operating at the coalface of the tech market, IT sales has always been an obvious career choice for ambitious school, college and university leavers.
But in what we believe is a first, CRN has conducted research into exactly what resellers pay their staff on average, and whether wages are going up or down.
The headline figures certainly suggest that the IT channel's lucrative reputation is justified.
Looking at the most recently filed annual accounts of the top UK resellers, average (mean) salaries and wages stand at ￡46,140, up 2.2 per cent annually.
That is over 60 per cent more than the UK average (median) salary, which stood at ￡28,600 in April according to the Office for National Statistics, a figure which also rose by 2.2 per cent.
Caution should be exercised when comparing these two figures because the ONS figure, being a median rather than mean, will be significantly lower, due to the fact that the mean will be influenced by the smaller number of high earners.
Marc Sumner, managing director of recruitment firm Robertson Sumner, felt that the wage rise would have been higher but for an influx of relatively low-paid graduates into the reseller workforce.
"I would have thought they would be going up more than that as the demand for talent is really driving up salaries," he said. "But I think that's because people are suddenly investing in more graduates, which is bringing [the average] down. The people who are doing the big numbers are getting big - ￡15,000 etc - pay rises, but that's balanced out by suddenly bringing in three graduates on ￡20,000."
The Staff and Salaries report features a rundown of the resellers with the highest average wages, and seven of the top 10 are based in the south-east or London.
Mike Simmonds, chief executive of Axial Systems, a Maidenhead-based outfit that ranked eighth in the pay list, was also surprised that the annual rise in reseller wages wasn't higher.
Simmonds said his firm needed to offer competitive salaries in order to compete with neighbouring tech giants.
"Being close to Slough and Reading skews the figures tremendously," he said.
"I have to compete with the likes of Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Intel, McAfee, O2 and Vodafone. The salaries have to be market competitive but not necessarily leading, as I still want people who are hungry. But I do have to have a reasonable starting position which was a challenge I set myself shortly after taking the big chair [he became CEO in 2013]."
Across the board
Average pay for the top 200 ranges from above ￡100,000 to below ￡20,000. The wide spread in average salaries did not come as a surprise to Zoe Chatley, associate partner at recruitment firm Wallace Hind.
Many leading outfits are now offering reps up to 25 per cent commission on all sales once they surpass ￡10,000 gross profit in a given month, she said.
"The commission structures are generally uncapped, which is why you see these big [average salary] figures of ￡90,000 or ￡100,000, especially for solutions and services, where the margins are a lot higher," she said.
A full breakdown of average wages for 191 firms in the top 200 is included in the new Staff and Salaries study.
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