5 Sales Support Roles That Pay The Big Bucks

You don’t have to be the one closing deals to work in sales—or make good money.

by Andrew RanzingerLast updated: 09/01/2020

Sales jobs are attractive to many people because they come with the opportunity to earn commission: a portion of your compensation is directly tied to how much you sell, which means that you have direct control over how much you make.

Good salespeople can make A LOT of money.

But not everyone wants to be a salesperson—whether because of their personality and strengths or because they think salespeople are insufferable jerks

Here’s the crazy thing: you don’t have to be a salesperson to work in sales.

In today’s world, there’s often an entire team of people who support the salespeople on the front lines.

Many of them make good money and have the potential to earn commission themselves. 

Here are five.

1. Sales engineer

Sales engineers are nerds with people skills. They combine the technical expertise of an engineer with the communication skills of a salesperson. 

Sales engineers are critical members of the sales team for companies that sell complex products.

As a sales engineer, you’ll be the go-to expert on the technical aspects of the product, answering questions, and helping people understand the benefits at a detailed level.

In some companies, sales engineers are more salesmen than nerds. They do a lot of sales work—pursuing leads, booking meetings, and delivering presentations—but have the technical knowledge to back up their sales pitch when needed.

In other companies, sales engineers are more nerds and less salesmen.

They work as advisors to the sales team, which brings them in as needed to help with the more technical aspects of the sales process.

This allows the sales engineers to focus primarily on the science and leaves the sales heavy lifting to Chad and Brad.


In both cases, sales engineers work with clients to understand their requirements and provide support through the implementation process.

Not only that, but because of their insights into what customers are asking for, they are often valuable resources for research and development teams working to create new products.

According to Payscale, Sales Engineers average $73,000 in salary, with an additional $19,000 in commission, for a total of around $92,000.

2. Sales development representative (SDR)

SDRs are phone detectives with some sales game. They are inside sales reps—”inside” means they work with calls and emails, not in-person meetings—who focus on qualifying leads. 

In sales, a lead is anyone who might be interested in your product or service. Once you have a lead, you next have to figure out if they are a “qualified lead”—in other words, are they a legit opportunity or just a waste of time.

SDRs identify the right people so more experienced salespeople can focus on turning them into new customers.

As an SDR, you’ll figure out who’s really making decisions at a company, get them interested, then set up a meeting with an account representative who will (hopefully) close the deal.

Because you’re an integral part of every sale, you’ll earn commission on each purchase made by a lead you qualified.

According to Payscale, SDRs earn an average of $44,000 in base salary, and an additional $38,000 in commissions, profit sharing, and bonuses, putting them comfortably in the $75K+ compensation range

3. Customer success manager (CSM)

CSMs are professional babysitters. Okay, not really, but kind of: they make sure that once a new customer arrives, they stay happy and buy more.

It costs more money to acquire new customers than to keep current ones, so smart companies invest heavily in this kind of bespoke customer service. 

Unlike most customer service roles, CSMs are primarily proactive, not reactive. Your job isn’t to sit around waiting for a customer to have a question or issue.

Your job is to constantly ask: How can I make sure the customer is getting the most value out of our product?

You’ll check in with your accounts regularly, and build strong relationships with your contacts there.

You’ll look at data of how they’re using your product and make suggestions on how they can get more out of it. 

You’ll make sure new users are properly trained. And where possible, you’ll use your knowledge of their business to sell them additional products or services they’ll benefit from. 

In addition to their salary, you’ll often get paid commission based on how well you retain clients and how much revenue your clients generate.

According to Payscale, CSMs earn an average salary of $68,000 and $12,000 in commission, for a total of around $80,000.

4. Sales operations analyst

Sales operations—or sales ops for short—crunch the numbers and create the charts that make sales teams more effective. They do the behind-the-scenes work necessary to help the team run more smoothly and bring in more money.

As a sales operations analyst, you’ll do the data analysis and forecasting needed to set sales targets, build budgets, and determine hiring needs.

You’ll also help the sales team be more efficient—from what industries and geographies they should focus on to, to what lead sources yield the best conversion rates.

You’ll also do the research needed to help salespeople close specific deals. You’ll perform competitive analysis, create forecasts, and run the calculations that convince prospects your company’s product is the best.

When they have technical questions about the impact of adopting a solution—whether in increased savings, revenue, or efficiency—you’ll do the math. 

According to Payscale, sales operations analysts earn an average of $62,000 per year, with an additional $4,000 in commission.

5. Salesforce administrator

Salesforce administrators help companies get the most out of Salesforce, the world’s most widely-used customer relationship management software.

CRM software are apps that store every bit of information your company has about its customers. 

It’s where leads get created, and SDRs qualify them. It’s where account reps record their meetings and calls.

It’s where sales analysts get the information to build reports. And once a customer is acquired, it’s how customer success managers manage the ongoing relationship.

Because of how complex and feature-rich it is, organizations need dedicated Salesforce administrators to help them get the most out of it.

Your job will be to make sure that all the different teams using Salesforce—sales, marketing, engineering, and product—are able to do the work they need to.

Since each of these teams have different needs and uses, that will often mean customizing Salesforce and then training that team on how to use the new functionality.

When something breaks, you’ll fix it. If new pieces of software need to be integrated with Salesforce, you’ll make that happen.

According to Payscale, Salesforce Administrators earn an average of $67,000, with an additional $10,000 in commission.

You don’t have to close deals

Working in sales provides unique opportunities to make good money, and you don’t have to be a Chad to be a part of the team.

There are many sales support roles today that don’t require you to close deals or even interact with clients but still pay well.

Not only that, but these support jobs can also be stepping stones into either a more advanced sales role or a different job altogether.

You just have to do your research and find one that aligns with your talents and career aspirations.