The Ultimate Guide to Agent Commissions

Having a great product isn’t a given that it’ll be successful and earn you a lot of money. To do that, you need a group of people who can convince potential customers to buy the product and bring revenue to the company.

Sales can be a very difficult and demanding profession, and organizations may choose to employ external agents to explore and capture the potential in its entirety. These agents are not salaried, and the only thing that keeps them interested in the game are agent commissions.

What is Agent Commission, and Why is it Important?

Agents are outside contractors or third-party people. They are responsible for selling the products and services to consumers or helping them solve their queries.  They can be on-field agents in real estate, insurance, retail, and various other businesses or support executives in a call center.

Unlike sales representatives at a company, agents might not have fixed targets and earn commissions by selling a product or service. This commission is known as the Agent commission. Here, an agent receives a percentage of the total transaction value for every successful transaction or deal.

Agent commissions are a great way to motivate agents to work harder and bring more sales.

How Much Commission Can an Agent Earn?

There is no set formula or limit to how much commission an agent can earn throughout his lifecycle. The percentage changes for different industries, companies, and career stages. Even in the same organization, various commission schemes for different products or services can exist. And the complexity involved can make it harder to predetermine the total agent commission they earn.

Insurance agents receive commissions based on the type of product or service they sell. For example, let's consider an insurance agent who sells a policy with a specific coverage amount and regular premium payments. The commission he earns will vary depending on the policy he successfully sells. Payment structures for insurance agents can also include factors such as the number of policies sold, renewals, top-ups, and other metrics. Consequently, variations in commission amounts can arise between agents operating at the same level.

Different Commission Issues

Tracking, calculating, and disbursing commissions to every agent can be tough, especially if you use legacy systems and manual processes. Incorrect data entry and delayed data collation can lead to deferred, erroneous pay-outs and may lead to dissatisfied and demotivated agents. Here are some of the most common problems related to agent commissions:

1. Legacy Systems

Traditional tracking and calculating commission methods are time-consuming, unreliable, and prone to errors. Legacy systems are hard to maintain and harder to maintain and collect information from. This method can consume a lot of time and potentially yield incorrect commission calculations.

Legacy systems can't handle complex scenarios, especially concerning commission plans with numerous variables. Therefore, there are better ways available to calculate incentives accurately.

2. Shadow Accounting

Since agents work hard to convert a lead into a customer, they expect their commission to be calculated correctly, quickly, and paid on time. Due to delayed and inaccurate payments, they may resort to shadow accounting to calculate their agent commissions.

It consumes their precious time, erodes trust in the company, and can result in top performers leaving for greener pastures.

3. Increased Auditing

Legacy systems lead to a lot of manual work, which increases the need for project management. Any inconsistencies or discrepancies can attract heightened scrutiny from board members and auditors.

Although auditing is crucial in maintaining the company's financial health, it can sometimes be intrusive and disruptive to the workflow. The more manual work, the longer the auditing will continue.

What is a Commission Management Software?

Commission management software is a simple platform that makes it easier to track, process, manage, and disburse agent commissions more simply and efficiently. The sales department can easily track a sales rep's activities and ensure that they properly compensate them for their work.

Managing agent commissions can be a complicated process and is the biggest reason why companies sought to outsource this process to a third party rather than dealing with it in-house. It can take a lot of time, is cumbersome, and can consume a lot of resources for a company. Resources that can be well spent somewhere else. Commission management software streamlines and automates the commission process, providing several benefits to an organization.

Benefits of a Commission Management System

1. Increased Accuracy

For a system that relies heavily on data, accuracy is vital. Although you may not lose millions of dollars due to some data entry error, it can still cost significantly. Research says these errors can lead to up to 7% to 8% of monetary losses. 

Commission management software can help maintain the accuracy and reliability of data across all sales channels. It makes it easier to retain information like the total number of sales done by an agent, the number of new customers added, revenue generated for the company, and more. All these details are essential in calculating the final commission for that agent.

2. Greater Efficiency

A centralized commission management software can integrate with your sales, HRMS, and finance CRMs, making it easier to collect information and calculate agent commissions efficiently.

Manual processes take a lot of time to calculate commission payments, and there are chances that the calculation can also be incorrect. Commission management software, however, pulls relevant information from upstream systems in real-time and calculates the commission instantly. A lot of time is saved, and since mistakes are fewer, there’s no need to repeat the process once again. This also increases the time for studying, simulating, and re-designing the agent commission plans for optimal performance.

3. Improved Performance Tracking

While legacy systems can keep a record of how much sales and revenue an agent has generated, they can’t provide an in-depth analysis of the agent’s performance on a regular basis. Agents strive for a report card to know where they are performing better and which areas they are lacking.

With commission management software, agents can get information about their total commission earned, annual targets, performance by territory, products, and more forward-looking metrics like earning potential. Agents can leverage this information to improve their performance and earn more commission. And it is not just individuals; it tracks the performance of a team or sales group as well.

4. Stay Updated with the Market

Sales commission software allows you to track the performance of your agents but also allows you to benchmark it against industry standards.

Business leaders can make an informed decision about their sales team's ability concerning the market and whether an improvement is required. They can also analyze and identify the top performers in their team and make necessary adjustments to remain competitive in the market.

5. Cost Reduction

Maintaining a mountain of manual work requires a lot of time from dedicated people. Hiring these people takes a lot of money, and it still can’t ensure that commission calculations will become faster or more accurate.  Inaccurate computations cost valuable money and mean that the time spent doing that calculation was worth nothing. 

A commission management software streamlines the calculation process and reduces the time it takes to disburse the final commission. It also reduces the cost as there’d be less paperwork and fewer people required to handle that paperwork.

How to Choose a Commission Management Software

Implementing commission management software in your business could require substantial investment. Hence, it is important to choose the one that is best suited for your business. Here are some factors that you should consider while selecting commission management software.

1. Easy to Use

The sales commission software should look good and be intuitive to use as well. You wouldn’t want to spend much time learning how to use the interface and get the desired results. The commission management software should be user-friendly for the sales team, enabling them to access reports and data easily while staying focused on their targets.

2. Integration Capabilities

The software needs to perform various tasks, and commission calculation is one of them. An ideal commission management software should be able to integrate with different aspects of the sales pipeline, collect every necessary information, and calculate the commission as well.

3. Performance Tracking

Your sales team will use the software to gauge their performance and bring improvements. Hence, the software must have enhanced tracking capabilities. You should be able to identify your best and worst performers, the achievements of a team, territory-wise distribution, pending commissions, and more.

4. Budget-Friendly

The whole aim of commission management software is to make your commission calculation process more efficient and help in reducing overall costs. This doesn’t mean having software in place is necessary, even if you are just a small company with a handful of sales reps. In such case, understanding your current business scenario and choosing options that fit your budget is important.

Incentivate – End-to-End Sales Commission Solution

If you’re looking for a reliable solution for managing your agent commissions, Incentivate has got you covered. Its no-code platform allows you to track accurately and process agent commissions, bringing many other benefits to your organization. It helps automate sales incentives-related business processes from data sourcing and crediting to calculations and reporting.

Incentivate helps businesses stay on top of their sales reps’ activities, make decisions faster, bring more transparency to the system, and improve overall efficiency. They can track several metrics and KPIs responsible for the final commission calculation and make it accessible to the agents as well. Agents can then change their performance or strategies to complete more transactions and earn more commission.

With the help of Incentivate’s commission management software, you can take care of your agents and ensure they receive the correct commission timely.

About Author

Sumeet Shah

Chief Growth Officer @Incentivate, has over 15 years of experience in management consulting, product engineering, and analytics, working with clients across multiple countries, functions, and domains.