Some of our beliefs and preconceived ideas may be confusing us and probably blocking us from taking a great opportunity for success and development.
You are in sales, and you are on the look for a new, better and more exciting job adventure. Great. New company, new products. and the road to success. Great. When you start screening opportunities seriously though, you realize the wide variety of choices available… Chances are your first reaction will be to stick to what you know in terms of type of company, markets, products, or, maybe make a radical change and go for something completely new. Going for something new is fine, regardless if it is driven by your genuine desire to expand your expertise, or because of bad experiences in the domain you know.
“I feel I should get different compensation for my performance”, If I only had an uncapped commission”, “Having a high base salary is much better…” Read on… Are some of this beliefs holding you back?
Split: The high versus low commission choice. Provided the company you’re interested in offers conditions within your market range both are good choices. The lower the commission in the split, the less risk for you. This can be tricky though as low commission wages in sales may be related to longer and complex sales cycles, high price products or services, or conditions where in general you have your monthly expenses covered so you can focus on steady growth. It can also be the opposite, the sales cycle is short, the price is “affordable” and you are expected to close a lot of deals, and do it often, in this scenario the commission is “low” our you would be making more money than the CEO.
A higher commission split, on the other hand, can mean that the company “does not want to risk it” (temporary or permanent strategy, we don’t know), that the management or sales leadership puts the biggest share of the responsibility on you (several possible reasons, including lack of resources or will to develop you, high rotation of sales-force). On the other hand, it can mean that the market is expanding, and that there is a high opportunity-high competition scenario, you know one where the fastest to close deals is well rewarded. If you are cut for this, or not, but are willing to put the effort to learn, this could be a super exciting stage in your career.
The teams that calculate your wage, take into consideration a number of factors, including your projected success rate versus Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). Yes, your salary and commissions compute in how much it costs to acquire a customer, and we all now everybody want to keep costs down. This is also the reason why commissions are capped.
Selling an expensive product will get me more commissions than a cheap one. This notion is related to the previous idea, but with a twist. In principle is true, right? Again, whoever calculates your wages, takes into consideration your projected success rate (frequency of closings + amount of deals), to come up with a fair, competitive and motivating compensation.
Here’s the twist, if you only take action…
In my experience hiring sales executives or leaders, people who are a bit too concerned if the base salary is “too low” in the split, most likely express a bit of a risk aversion, and in occasions reflect their doubts (in themselves or their “closing” skills, in the market, in the product, etc).
Your likely success rate, as calculated, is based on two things: data of past performance in the company, industry, etc., and a projection of “what is reasonable to be achieved” considering market conditions, competition, product roadmap, and the like.
Chances are though, that, if you’re up for it, you might be that one person that changes the equation, the one that proves calculations wrong and pushes things to a greater level. A level where you attract more revenue, more customers and more success for you and for your company.
This takes effort, discipline, creativity, and very high-levels of action, and a super-strong spirit of experimentation to try things and defy the status quo, but it is possible and many people have achieved it selling in any industry, market conditions or context.
The thing is that, even if you don’t see yourself as a game changer at this point, to succeed in a sales job, say to the point that you attain your quota and are able to keep your job, most likely will take a very similar amount of effort, discipline and creativity, than those necessary to crushing it big time.
Here’s an idea: If you get the job, set your own goals, not based on data, but on the potential that you can achieve. Why? companies do not like perceived risk, and not many will include insane and unreasonable growth goals in their projections (the idea of failing and falling short is still too strong in our society’s psyche). But that does not mean crazy results cannot be achieved. Insane people achieve inane goals time and again. If you dare to set your own private insane goals I assure you you’ll have a greater motivation to go for them.
As I stated in the first part of this article, you’d be surprised how many sales professionals move form company to company without great fulfilment, great propelling effects in their career, and frequently because they struggle to make their quota.
That quota, though, is an external number, and nothing stops you from setting for yourself a more ambitious number: working on your own goals (as opposed to imposed goals) has a totally different meaning, feeling and color.
Again, taking action here means taking responsibility, and doing, learning and trying whatever it takes to achieve your goal: your boss, your team, your product, your commission plan, the market… all those count, but the determining factor of your success is YOU.
Success in your coming job!