The reality of working for a company with a 100% commission plan (non-salary) is that it can be lucrative. Seriously lucrative. It also can be extremely frustrating with the highs and lows of an unpredictable income. To succeed takes a certain type of personality and support system. This is not theory for me. I worked a 100% commission plan for over 10 years and raised a young family of 6 on it. Not only can I sympathize but empathize with those doing the same or similar. So how did my family and I survive with such an unpredictable income?
1. Personal Confidence
You better have loads of it. I liken it to when your sweet children become teenagers. Having your self-esteem intact is mandatory. To stay in a commissioned environment day after day, month after month, year after year takes a kind of faith in yourself. You really need to believe in not only your abilities but that successes will come. You need to know that the efforts invested will eventually come to fruition. Soothsayers need to be ignored. Doubts need to be overcome. Feeling low or depressed from time to time is natural but has to be put aside quickly.
“Anyone can sell something… Do it day in and day out for years… successfully… then you can honestly hold the title of salesperson”
2. Support at the Home Front
Some of you have the luxury of a second income to help. Obviously this can take the “edge” off the straight commission challenge. With 4 children… daycare costs were too expensive for my wife to work out of the home. This didn’t stop her from being a tremendous support however.
With working long hours to get things rolling she would keep my girls up for me so I could have some time with them. She took on small “work at home” opportunities to help with vacations and holidays. She had complete trust in me morally and ethically. There was no doubt in my mind that she had my back and supported me. I have never taken this for granted or given her reason for concern.
I could focus on the task at hand… building a career. Commissioned positions take time and tremendous effort. With that said…There were times I would be reminded of what was most important… family. And you know what… that was a good thing. Kept me balanced and less prone to burnout. My wife was, and is, my partner in success.
3. An A B C Plan for Finances
In the early days of selling on commission there truly wasn’t any income stability. With time that became better, of course. However, I always found it interesting when parents, friends, and clergy would counsel to save for a rainy day. Under normal circumstances sound advice. Almost all of the counsel came from salaried employees. None had any idea, one… why I would have chosen a non salaried position and, two… what it was like to go from nothing to thousands in income randomly throughout the year. Saving was always tough especially with a family.
We had issues with getting our arms around the seesaw income of commission selling at first. Sometimes the cupboards were bare. Sometimes we were eating steak and lobster. After multiple bad months to have a great income month was celebration time! Pay back bills… spend some “reward” money on objects wanted… and well… we felt that there would be more great months! Kind of a bi-polar affect… depressed to euphoria. “We’ll save next month” was our misguided thought process. Hero to zero became the Lott’s income motto. Something had to change.
We started the A B C plan. It was simple.
A) Pay bills (more than minimum – or payoff) and save – invest.
B) Pay minimal on bills… tap into savings if necessary.
Our ultimate goal was to never hit C!
Accountants would cringe on what we did but it was simple and worked for us. The key element was that we would let our family know what level (A B C) we were at and how that was going to affect them. Grumbles were heard many times but ultimately they understood. My wife and children would ask how my sales were going… daily. They helped “motivate” me in down times.
The holiday season can be a tough time as well. Every November December we found ourselves holding our breath that a certain deal would come through. Unfortunately this would dictate whether the gifts would be plentiful or lean. My wife suggested a Christmas Club savings. What a lifesaver. We put our nickels and dimes in this account all year long. I knew that no matter how November December ended the holidays would be great. Definitely took a load off my back and kept my attitude positive. I recommend highly.
Someone entering the sales career field will many times find themselves with 100% commission opportunities as their only choice. After successfully proving their abilities finding a salaried based position is much easier. Some sales professionals like the 100% commission as their commission percentage is usually much higher. In either case with a little planning and a dose of confidence a 100% commission position can be a lucrative positive experience for not only yourself but your family.Photos courtesy of 123RF