Sales glossaryCommission

What is a commission in sales?

Busy? Here's the short answer:

Commission is the extra cash or bonus salespeople earn as a percentage or fixed amount of the sales revenue they generate. It is used as an incentive to keep sales people motivated.

What is Commission in Sales?

In the context of sales, "Commission" is a term that refers to the extra cash or bonus that salespeople earn based on the sales revenue they generate. It serves as an incentive to keep salespeople motivated and driven to achieve higher sales targets. Commissions are typically calculated as a percentage of the sales value or sometimes as a fixed amount per sale.

Key Takeaways:

  • Commission is an additional incentive for salespeople to achieve sales targets.
  • It can be a percentage of the sales revenue or a fixed amount per sale.
  • Commission motivates sales reps to perform at their best and fosters a competitive sales culture.

Understanding Commission Structure

The commission structure can vary depending on the company's sales strategy and the nature of the products or services being sold. Let's explore two common types of commission structures:

  1. Percentage-based Commission: In this structure, sales reps earn a percentage of the total sales revenue they generate. For example, if the commission rate is 5% and a sales rep closes a deal worth $10,000, they would earn $500 in commission (5% of $10,000).

  2. Tiered Commission: Some companies offer a tiered commission structure, where the commission percentage increases as sales reps achieve higher sales targets. For instance, they might earn a 5% commission for sales up to $10,000, but the rate increases to 7% for sales between $10,000 and $20,000, and so on.

The Impact of Commission on Sales Performance

Commission plays a crucial role in influencing sales performance. Here are some ways in which it impacts sales reps:

  1. Motivation and Drive: Knowing that their efforts directly translate into monetary rewards motivates salespeople to work harder and achieve higher sales targets.

  2. Competitive Spirit: Commission fosters a competitive spirit among sales reps, as they strive to outperform each other and earn higher rewards.

  3. Focus on Customer Satisfaction: To increase sales and, consequently, their commission, sales reps focus on understanding customer needs and delivering value.

  4. Retention and Loyalty: Offering attractive commission structures can enhance sales team retention and foster loyalty to the company.

Real-Life Example of Commission in Action

To illustrate the impact of commission, let's consider the example of a retail store.

Example: The Electronics Store

At an electronics store, sales associates receive a 3% commission on the total sales they make. On a busy weekend, Jane, a sales associate, assists a customer in purchasing a high-end television worth $1,500. As a result, Jane earns a commission of $45 (3% of $1,500) on that sale.

The commission incentivizes Jane to provide exceptional customer service, offer product knowledge, and ensure the customer has a positive shopping experience. Jane is motivated to maximize her sales and increase her earnings through commission.


Q: Are commissions common in all types of sales roles?

A: Commissions are common in many sales roles, especially those that involve direct selling to customers. However, commission structures can vary across industries and organizations.

Q: Can commissions lead to aggressive sales tactics?

A: While commissions can create a sense of urgency to close deals, it is essential for companies to promote ethical sales practices and prioritize customer satisfaction.

Q: Are there other types of incentives besides commissions in sales?

A: Yes, besides commissions, salespeople may receive bonuses, performance-based rewards, recognition, and other non-monetary incentives.

In conclusion, commission is a powerful tool in the sales world that motivates salespeople to achieve higher sales targets. Whether it's a percentage-based commission or a tiered structure, the allure of earning extra cash drives sales reps to excel in their roles. Commission not only benefits salespeople but also positively impacts the organization's overall sales performance and customer satisfaction levels.

Related terms...

ABC (Always Be Closing)

ABC means "Always Be Closing" and is a motivational mantra. It's generally used for aggressive sales strategies focused on "getting to a close" or sometimes as a joke among sales teams.

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Accepted Lead

An Accepted Lead is a potential sales prospect that has been evaluated and deemed worthy of pursuing by the sales team.

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An Account, in sales, refers to a specific customer or client that a business has a commercial relationship with.

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AE (Account Executive)

An Account Executive (or AE) the sales person responsible for managing and nurtinrg relationships with clients or key accounts. They are often the primary point of contact for existing accounts and responsible for closing new deals.

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ACV (Average Contract Value)

ACV, or Annual Contract Value, is a metric used in sales to calculate the total revenue generated from a single customer's contract. It helps businesses understand the financial performance of each customer.

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All terms

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