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Commission only: could this save your salespeople during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Article by Mark Keating from SalesGuru

Companies will need sales people more than ever when we get through this difficult time. Yet, the ability of some businesses to retain the salary costs of their sales force is real and will become larger over the coming weeks.

I’m not a HR expert and don’t claim to be but let me share my thoughts on the options:

My business is financially stable for a while:

Keep them – if possible, look after your sales people. Your whole company will soon be relying on them to bring in revenue to keep your business going.

My business is under financial pressure / I can’t afford salaries:

Most sales people will value having an opportunity to earn against no job. This could be the time to negotiate how they earn. Lower to no salary with high, uncapped commission structures. There is little to no financial risk to your business, you keep your sales people, they keep their jobs and the opportunity to earn money.

I started in sales on commission only and from personal experience, nobody had to motivate me to work hard every day. I believe in some cases, companies have got sales people’s salary and commission structures wrong over the past 10-15 years.

Low basic and high commission was the foundation of driving sales, earnings and activity. This allowed reduced risk and funds for training and great sales incentives. It created true sales warriors who got up every day and did more than what was expected. The more effort, the greater their rewards.

Now we sit with high basics, lower and capped commission structures, limited funds for training and incentives. Has this possibly created sales people happy to earn their basics and just get by?

Neither sales people or companies can afford mediocracy in the coming period.

Maybe this is the time to look at your structure but please be fair. You can create something that works for all parties.

Please do not lay off your sales people before having a discussion with them if this could be an option.

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