Are You Suited for Commission-Based Sales?

Joe Weinlick
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A career in sales is more difficult than it sounds, particularly when your income is based on how much you sell. For some people, the stress and uncertainty are too much to bear; for others, the thrill is invigorating and motivating. Before you embark on a commission-based sales position, consider whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

For people in the sales profession, uncertainty is part of life. In most cases, there is no guarantee that you'll meet your quarterly and yearly sales targets. When it comes to commission-based sales, the level of uncertainty rises even higher. Although you'll be paid a base salary, the bulk of your income will be based on how much you sell. A bad year or a tough economy can translate to a serious drop in your bank account.

For people with a high tolerance for risk, the high earnings potential of a career in sales can be thrilling. If you're interested in stability and predictability, however, a commission-based career may not be for you.

While you are choosing a direction for your career in sales, consider the personality traits you bring to a position. With commission-based jobs, you are likely to be more successful if you are never satisfied. After all, when you are constantly driven to make another cold call or follow up on another lead, it is easier to bring in clients.

As you are evaluating your options for a career in sales, gauge your self-discipline. In a commission-based environment, you are often left on your own to go after new clients and find new leads. Without discipline, it can be difficult to create a schedule and target new demographics. If, as you look back over your career and education history, you find that you work best with guidance in a structured environment, a commission job may not be a good fit.

A career in sales is often based on deadlines and high expectations, which is a challenge for people who have a low tolerance for stress. According to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times, the pressure to meet daily quotas at banking giant Wells Fargo & Co. led to employee burnout and low morale. If you are someone who can maintain a positive attitude and mental strength despite external factors, you have the potential to be successful in a demanding work environment.

Whether you are searching for your first job out of college or moving into a new sales position, it is crucial to evaluate your personality. In doing so, you can determine whether or not a commission-based job is the best way to develop your career in sales—and, as an added benefit, avoid a great deal of frustration and financial struggle down the road.


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