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The Best Guidebook: 9 Sales Commission Structures

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Published on
November 2, 2022

It's critical to understand how commission arrangements function, whether you're in the sales business or considering a career transition to a sales-based role. Because most salespeople are compensated on a commission basis, what they sell and how much they sell influence their annual family income.

This post outlines nine different sales commission structures and gives examples of each.


What is a sales commission structure?

A commission structure outlines how corporations reward their salespeople in the sales sector. There are various distinct sales commission schemes, each with a particular compensation scale. Weekly, biweekly, or monthly commissions are available. Most are paid after the month, although some may be delayed if employers want further information.

The significance of a well-functioning commission structure

Fairness and accuracy are two important factors to consider when designing an effective commission system. Salespeople who believe adequately compensated are more inclined to stay with a company rather than seek greater possibilities elsewhere. Structures that work contain the correct combination of wage and commission and quotas that can be met. The way a firm compensates its salespeople may impact profitability while also attracting and retaining the finest salespeople.

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There are nine different types of sales commission schemes

Depending on their services or goods, firms utilize some sales commission models. Nine most prevalent structures:

The Best Guidebook: Sales Commission Structures

1. Commission-based only on the base rate

Sales personnel are paid an hourly or flat compensation under the base rate only scheme. This incentive system is advantageous to organizations where salespeople spend a significant amount of time educating and helping clients before and after the sale. There is no financial motive to upsell or offer more items or services.

For example, regardless of how many sales they generate, the company's four salesmen each get $1,250 every week.

There is no need for computation because no commission is paid.

2. Hourly wage plus commission

One of the most prevalent commission models is the base salary plus plan. It pays hourly or straight base salaries plus a commission rate to sales associates. The basic wage is usually insufficient to cover someone's actual income, although it does give a fixed income when sales are high. The standard salary-to-commission ratio is 60:40, with the base rate accounting for 60% and the commission-based portion accounting for 40%. The strategy is most effective as a sales incentive or motivation.

For instance, a salesman makes $500 per month in salary plus 10% commission, or $500, on sales of $5,000. He gets $2,500 in one month if he sells $20,000 in product: $500 in salary and $2,000 in commission.

Commission Percentage x Amount Sold = Commission Total is the formula for solely base rate commissions.

Hourly wage plus commission

Also Check: How to Build a Sales Process With Step By Step Process

3. Make a counter-proposal to a commission

The commission draw plan is based on early payment, allowing new workers to adjust to their new sales duties without losing money. It combines features of the commission-only and base pay plus commission compensation plans. The more you sell, the more you make in commissions.

Salespeople are paid a salary, or draw, every month for a certain period of time, regardless of sales. They keep the commission and the difference between it and the draw amount if they earn less in commission than they do in compensation. Only if the salesperson's commission totals exceed the draw amount does the salesperson earn. Until commissions approach or surpass the salary drawn, the monies are considered advance payments. Employers must be reimbursed for these upfront payments at some point.

Example: A salesperson is expected to earn $4,000 a month in commission and receives $2,000 a month in the draw. If they meet their $4,000 goal, they earn $2,000 more, the amount over the appeal. If they make only $1,000, they owe the company $1,000, the amount under the draw.

The calculation for draw commission: Commission Total - Draw = Commission Owed.

4. Commission based on gross margin

The gross margin commission model considers all costs associated with the items being sold. A share of the profit is paid to the salesman. Salespeople are less prone to reduce things since their compensation is based on the ultimate cost of the sale. They can earn more commission if they successfully upsell a product or service.

For instance, a salesperson attempts to sell a $100,000 automobile that costs $60,000 to manufacture. The gross profit margin is $40,000, a significant amount of money. The salesman is compensated with 5% of the profit margin, or $200.

Gross margin commission calculation: Gross Margin = Total Sale Price - Cost. Total Commission = Gross Margin x Commission Percentage.

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5. Residual commission

It is a commission that is paid regularly.

The framework encourages salespeople to keep or build repeat business with their consumers. The residual plan is advantageous to salespeople who have long-term accounts or clients. Commission payments will continue as long as accounts earn money. This structure is most frequent in long-term account management agencies and consulting organizations.

Example: A significant account is won by an insurance salesperson. The salesman earns a 5% commission, or $150 each month, as long as the corporation pays its $3,000 monthly payments.

Payment x Commission Percentage = Total Commission is the formula for residual commission.

6. Revenue Commission

Companies that are more concerned with broader corporate goals than overall profit sometimes employ the revenue commission model when it comes to commission rates. Salespeople who earn a fixed proportion of the income they create have a chance to get to the top of the sales ranks.

Example: A car salesperson receives a 3% commission on a $25,000 vehicle sold. For such a sale, they earn a revenue commission of $750.

Revenue commission is calculated as follows: Sale Price x Commission Percentage = Total Commission.

7. Straight Commission 

Salespeople who operate on a pure commission-only get paid when they close a deal. If you don't sell anything, you won't make any money. More excellent commission rates may be offered because the organization does not produce a basic wage, generally attracting the finest salespeople. The straight commission system allows salespeople to work as independent contractors, setting their hours and saving the company money on taxes, benefits, and other costs. Only when the salesman generates revenue does the organization lose money.

For instance, a telemarketer selling holiday condo rentals makes $150 each booking. The more time you spend on the phone, the more likely you will make a deal.

Sales x Commission Rate = Income is the formula for calculating a straight commission.

8. Tiered Commission 

Salespeople get a set commission percentage on sales up to a particular amount under the tiered commission model. Their commission grows after they reach their revenue target. This motivates them to achieve their sales targets and clinch more agreements.

Example: A salesperson's base commission is 5% of total sales up to $100,000. They get a ten per cent commission on sales exceeding $200,000. For complete sales between $100,000 and $200,000, the fee rises to 7%.

Tiered Commission

9. Commission on territory volume

Salespeople in this strategy are paid based on a predefined rate for their assigned territory. The amount of remuneration is usually determined by territory volume, which is calculated by totalling sales and splitting commissions evenly among salespeople in the region. Only salespeople that operate in a team-oriented setting can benefit from this reward scheme.

For example, two salesmen in a 100-mile radius must sell $50,000 in merchandise each month. The first sells for $30,000, while the second sells for $20,000. They divided the 10% commission, earning $2,500 apiece because the overall target was accomplished.

Many factors influence the territory volume commission computation, which is based on the company's sales algorithms. The following is a simple calculation:

Sales Totals x Commission Percentage divided by Number of Salespeople = Commission Total Per Person.

How do you pick the best rate?

One of the most significant things a firm can do for its sales operation is define its compensation structure. What works well for one company might not be the ideal solution for another. Here are some pointers on determining the best compensation plan for your business:

Determine the outcomes you want to attain. This may be client acquisition for one department, while it could be customer loyalty for another.

Concentrate on a successful sales procedure. Determine which sales strategies are most effective for your firm to meet its sales targets. To assess their success, keep track of the results over some time.

In sales, turnover is expected; therefore, don't hesitate to experiment with different incentive schemes. What was motivating five years ago is no longer inspiring now.


One of the most crucial things you'll accomplish in your sales organization is to lay up your commission system. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for every business, and striking the appropriate mix often requires old-fashioned trial and error.

It's OK to try out different alternatives to find what works best. Your sales organization will almost certainly see some turnover, and what drives one sales team today may not motivate the team you have in ten years.

Focusing on a good sales process initially is the best technique.

Creating a fair sales commission system will be easier if your agents can sell confidently and forecast and repeat their performance.

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