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Plans for Sales Commission and Compensation: Getting and Retaining Star Sellers

Competitive and efficient sales commission and compensation systems are essential for keeping top sales talent. Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to put in more effort and stick around longer, which helps your company save time and money by reducing staff turnover. Sales commissions are a crucial component of demonstrating to your sales staff that their efforts will be recognised and that you value the time they invest in their jobs.

43% of employees, according to one research, would leave their current employers for a 10% pay raise elsewhere. According to data from the research, those who feel recognised are generally the happiest employees.

A fantastic approach to expressing gratitude is to provide your salespeople with competitive plans that include sales commission and compensation. It has been demonstrated that rewarding effort and account growth effectively motivates sales teams, thus as a sales firm owner, creating such a payment plan should be at the top of your priority list.

Everything you need to know about sales commissions and compensation schemes

A sales compensation plan details the base pay for your personnel in addition to the company’s commission and incentive plans. Employees should be encouraged by the commission structure to meet their goals in order to receive a just reward.

There are many different kinds of compensation systems available, so sales leaders should choose one that best suits the requirements of their team.

Understanding where and how sales efforts fall short is crucial before developing a strategy to correct them with alluring incentives that produce results. You may identify the areas that need improvement with the aid of solutions like RisePath, allowing you to use sales commissions to encourage effort in those areas.

How sales incentive plans are created

Plans for sales remuneration differ based on the composition, resources, and objectives of your team.

For instance, one employer might provide a modest base pay along with a sizable commission plan, while another might offer a mixture of a medium wage, aggressive targets, and prospects for professional advancement. The product, process, clients, and company culture all influence the type of compensation plan you choose.

When creating the sales commission and compensation structure for your team, there are a number of things to take into account. Consider the following inquiries when you consider your sales commission structure:

  • What objectives do you have for the sales force?
  • What are the main objectives of your company?
  • How much money do your salespeople make?
  • Can you afford to spend a certain percentage of your income on compensation packages?
  • Are you willing to provide your reps with a higher salary than your primary rivals pay their representatives?
  • What is the cost of living where your organisation is headquartered if your salespeople are working internally?

Understanding expectations makes it simpler to create alluring compensation packages that will entice both your most qualified prospects and current top performers.

Let’s start by going through some key phrases you should be familiar with when developing compensation plans.


Some incentive provisions in compensation plans call for a new customer to remain with your business for a specified amount of time.

You can incorporate a clawback if a consumer leaves before the time period expires. The sales representative will then be required to repay the commission they received for the sale. Clawbacks are a useful tool for encouraging salespeople to prioritise client retention and deal quality above number. They serve as an additional inducement for employees to remain with your business so they can benefit from their sales commission.

On-Target Revenue (OTE)

OTEs are a reasonable expectation of what a rep will make if they perform effectively and meet their goals.

The total of a rep’s base pay and commission from closed deals is known as their OTE. For instance, a sales representative may receive a basic salary of $60,000 and anticipate earning $40,000 in commission over the course of a year. Their OTE would be $100,000 as a result.

Companies should not publicise inflated OTE figures if they do not intend to pay their representatives at that level. This won’t work in the long run, and you’ll discover that top salesman won’t join or stay on your team if you plan on doing it. OTEs should be as realistic a projection as they can be.


Other effective ways to recognise high workers include incentives and competitions.

Although they can be offered as different reward types like dinners and excursions, incentives are frequently given out as cash payments. Team leaders might, for instance, organise a competition where the first salesperson to close 50 deals in a month receives a $1,000 prize. Alternatively, the first team to sell 100 more subscriptions will receive a group weekend getaway at a spa.

Accelerators/Decelerators for Sales

When a rep closes more deals than is necessary to meet their quota, sales accelerators are deployed. They are an excellent approach to persuading your top-performing salespeople to keep up the good work.

A representative closing 15% more than their quarterly quota can be a good illustration of a sales accelerator. For each percentage above their required quota, the corporation will pay an accelerator fee as compensation. A sales representative might receive a 12.5% commission on the additional 15% of sales, for instance, if they close 115% of their quarterly sales quota. Their expedited commission, if they closed an additional $10,000 in sales, would be $1,250.

Therefore, sales decelerators penalise reps who don’t meet their quota by reducing their pay.

There are seven typical sales commission plans

You can select from a variety of sales commission plans for your company. Before deciding which strategy is ideal for your business, you might have to try out a few different approaches.

Let’s examine the seven most typical types of compensation plans.

1. Base salary

A straight salary, often known as a base salary, is the simplest type of sales compensation plan; salespeople receive a fixed payment instead of commissions.

Since it doesn’t encourage sales representatives to close more deals, this kind of compensation plan isn’t frequently employed in sales. It may, however, be effective for smaller businesses if there is extensive departmental cross-collaboration. This organisational structure might be effective, for instance, if a worker spends half of each week selling and the other half providing customer service.

2. Base income plus pay depending on sales commissions

If you select this strategy, you’ll pay your salespeople a combination of a base wage and incentives based on their performance. In order to encourage selling, the base pay is often lower than a straight salary, and the commission rate should be uncapped.

This arrangement typically works effectively for businesses looking for a simple compensation structure with the added incentive of a sales commission.

3. Only commission

Your sales representatives will only be paid under a commission-only plan if they successfully consummate a sale.

Commission-only plans are frequently utilised by start-up businesses with limited cash resources. Although you can find sales representatives who are motivated to close deals using this methodology, it can also result in staff burnout and high turnover rates. In a competitive sales environment where sales representatives are more concerned with closing deals than retaining customers, commission-only plans might also contribute to this.

This arrangement would benefit a business that is selling its goods or services “off the shelf” but doesn’t have a lot of initial funding because it will save money on huge wages while still providing its sales force with a comfortable salary.

4. “Draw against” strategy

The early payment of commissions under this scheme enables sales representatives to borrow against their future profits.

This strategy is basically an “IOU” from your sales representative. The “draw” is a predefined sum of money that must be returned to the business under specific terms. Reps maintain their commissions and the difference is deducted from the draw if their commission is less than the amount drawn.

5. Level-headed commissions

One of the finest strategies for encouraging top performers to keep selling is a tiered commission structure.

It encourages sales representatives to exceed their quotas. A sales representative moves to a higher commission rate whenever they reach a certain threshold for deals closed or income generated. They will make more money the more transactions they close. Through tactics like upsells and cross-sells, this method may motivate sales representatives to increase sales.

6. Straight-line commission

The amount of a rep’s commission under straight-line plans is determined by how much of their quota they sell.

This strategy is challenging, and it only succeeds if your reps are driven to meet their entire quota. If a sales representative consistently achieves 65%, it may be that they are happy with that result. It will be challenging to move them without using an accelerator because they won’t be encouraged to sell more.

7. Gross margin of profit

Plans for gross profit margin are based on a company’s overall performance.

These programmes are typically employed by bootstrapped and startup businesses that don’t have a lot of money. Instead of the total cost of a product, a representative will be paid a commission based on the profit margins in a transaction. A full-priced sale will therefore result in a bigger commission for sales representatives than one that was closed with a significant reduction.

An overview of sales commission and compensation

A happy, motivated sales team is the foundation of any business.

Creating your compensation plan will require a lot of effort, careful planning, continual monitoring, and modification, but the results will be worth it. No sales commission scheme is ideal, and your company’s objectives will probably alter over time. Maintaining open lines of communication is essential to the success of your strategies.

Your sales team and company as a whole will function like a well-oiled machine after sales employees are encouraged to put in extra effort and are rewarded for a job well done.

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