Straight Commission Plans: Advantages and Disadvantages


Employees who believe they are appreciated are more likely to work more and stay indefinitely, saving your company time and money on attrition. Sales commission is important to demonstrate to your sales staff that they will be rewarded for their efforts and valued for the time they devote to their jobs.

Competitive and effective sales commission and compensation plans are critical for keeping top sales professionals. There are many different commission structures to select from, and sales executives should adopt the one that best meets their team's demands. To begin, it is critical to identify where and how sales efforts fall short and devise a strategy to address these shortfalls with tempting rewards that drive outcomes.

Types of Sales Commission Structures

There are several sorts of sales commission plans, each of which results in a different degree of compensation. Commissions may be paid weekly, bimonthly, or monthly. Most of these are received at the end of the term, but some may be delayed if employers need to secure money from clients before compensating you.

Businesses utilize a wide range of sales commission structures depending on their services or goods. The following are the nine most prevalent structures:

1. Base Salary Plus Commission

Generally, basic pay is insufficient to create a reasonable income for the salesperson alone. Salespeople will continue to rely heavily on commissions, but they will have a buffer to fall back on when or if a market change causes sales to halt.

2. Straight Commission Plans

Under straight commission plans, the sole money sales representatives get under a pure commission plan comes directly from their sales. The major advantage for sales representatives is that it offers the maximum earning potential. Because salespeople may work longer hours to generate more money, this arrangement gives them complete control over their income. It's also a chance for them to assess their performance in their new position.

3. Relative Commission Plans

A relative commission plan pays the rep commission depending on how much quota they meet rather than the precise revenue amount, as well as a basic wage.

4. Absolute Commission Plans

Reps in an absolute commission plan are compensated for meeting predetermined targets and doing certain actions. These programs are most successful at focusing sales reps' attention and giving rewards in areas where reps may be failing.

5. Territory Volume Commission Plans

Reps are compensated on a territory-wide, collaborative basis under this plan. This strategy entails accumulating the commission from all sales and dispersing it across the team members. This strategy is ideal for team-based enterprises striving to strengthen service in a specific territory.

What are Straight Commission Plans?

Straight commission plans compensate sales representatives on a commission-only basis, with profits made up completely of variable compensation, i.e. there is no fixed salary component. Salespeople are tremendously driven to close transactions under straight commission plans, but their employment also comes with increased stress due to the level of risk involved, which can raise the possibility of sales exhaustion.

We understand that you’d like to know the advantages and disadvantages of straight commission plans, so let’s go through them in depth. We understand that you'd like to know the advantages.

Advantages of Straight Commission Plans

1. Earning Potential for Reps is Unlimited

Employees' earnings on straight commission plans are never capped. Sales representatives are paid based on a percentage of the purchases they can make. This implies that they can always earn more money if they are ready to work some more hours. Their revenue is derived from sales; hence, extraordinarily high sales result in extremely high earnings. Salespeople who work on commission rarely have a salary cap. This may be a strong motivation for salesmen to strive hard and stay committed.

2. Reps know the Value of every Sale

Since commissions are disclosed in advance, salespeople know how much they may make from every possible transaction. Straight commission plans frequently push salespeople to include spontaneous promotions, which benefits both their compensation and the company's bottom line. A larger contract equates to a higher salary. Salespeople are more likely to close more deals if compensation is used as encouragement. The more salespeople sell, the more money they make and the more income they produce for the business.

3. It Naturally Encourages People to Work Hard

Income from straight commission plans is entirely dependent on performance. Employees are encouraged to sell more in order to take away more cash at the end of the day. If you do not work, you will not be compensated under this sort of commission structure. There is a natural framework in place that rewards hard effort since employees need to generate sales to get a commission. Some salespeople may put more effort into their work than others, but the debris eventually segregates from the final crops, and an organization is left with the best employees who want to be there and make a good living.

4. More Economical for Companies

Since straight commission plans only compensate employees for generating money, organizations would obviously prefer to pay commissions rather than wages. Regular wages are continuous costs regardless of output, which means that a company may pay out more than employees make. If a company only needs to pay salespeople after closing a deal, it is assured income every time they have to pay out commission. It reduces the risk of investing in salespeople by ensuring they perform to earn money.

5. Increases Sales

Salespeople are more likely to close more deals if remuneration is used as encouragement. Hence, companies use straight commission plans essentially to drive salespeople to work harder, more quickly, or more profitably to convert sales. The psychological influence varies, but salespeople who are motivated by earnings tend to pursue more opportunities and work harder to close deals if compensation is linked to performance. The more salespeople close, the more money they make and the more income they produce for the business. People frequently take their income for granted. However, knowing that more work or accomplishments would result in higher remuneration might inspire.

Disadvantages of Straight Commission Plans

1. Unpredictable Expenses for the Company

Obviously, a commission-paying company would willingly bear high commission charges in exchange for good sales and profitability. However, a disadvantage of straight commission plans is that the speculation surrounding commission income might cause budgetary issues, particularly if the company sells on credit to purchasers. If the company pays royalties soon after the purchase but does not receive money for a lengthy period of time, there will be a misalignment in income and compensation. Some salesmen are also concerned about the volatility of remuneration. Let's get into it at the next point.

2. Fluctuations in Employees' Income

Income under straight commission plans might change from month to month, producing earnings variations. Employees may see considerable shifts depending on the market. These sorts of variances might make accounting and budgeting for the future more difficult, resulting in instability in your employees' personal lives. Employees must discuss with an accountant how to effectively structure their finances to plan for the volatility of their income to help counteract these variances.

3. Overly Aggressive Sales

Straight commission plans can occasionally inspire employees to take an overly aggressive stance to secure business. While this method may provide good short-term sales performance, it may also turn off clientele who are turned off by slightly elevated efforts. Some businesses, particularly in retail, employ a modest commission % to balance the motivating benefits of commissions while reducing the possibility of over-aggression.

4. It Takes Time to Build Clientele

It takes time to develop any form of sales position. This is applicable even for employees who assume a good inside sales position. Clients will only purchase from someone they trust, and building trust takes time. As a result, many workers can't afford to take a job on straight commission plans, even if the earning threshold is endless, as they need money for basic necessities right soon.

5. Toxic Independence

Straight commission plans offer a great deal of independence. With increased autonomy comes a decreased obligation to supervisors over the day. They may contact you once a week, but salary and hourly roles may require regular communication with managers. These conversations might help staff concentrate. Salespeople may feel less willing to accept responsibility if they have less accountability. More accountability is preferred by the majority of employees. They should think about scheduling more regular meetings with their manager or other coworkers.

When to Use Straight Commission Plans?

Straight commission plans make the most sense in some scenarios, such as organizations with smaller sales cycles or where large commissions are possible. They are frequently employed when achieving the most sales in the shortest amount of time at the lowest possible expenditure.

Comply with yourself and your team with the compensation requirements that apply. Offering straight commission plans may be restricted to specific employees in certain cases. Other restrictions may apply to your commission structure as well. Understand what they are and how to align your organization with them.

Wrapping Up

From the perspective of sales management, straight commissions are an employee advantage since commissions are simple to calculate and vary directly in relation to sales volume. However, it is also detrimental for management to place too much emphasis on short-term sales gains at the expense of long-term relationship building, resulting in less motivation to acquire new accounts. Recognize the needs and constraints, as well as how to align your company with them.

About Author

Amit Jain

Sales Compensation Expert, Founder, Mentor - Helping organizations transform their sales incentive programs into growth engines