Should You Accept a Commission-Based Job?

Michele Warg
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A commission-based job can be a great opportunity to increase your earning potential - but only if you have what it takes to succeed in this kind of role. Not everyone is cut out to work as a commission-based salesperson. Before you accept a commission-based job, ask yourself whether this is the kind of environment in which you can thrive.

A commission-based job is a real test of your abilities. Failing to meet your sales targets will significantly shrink the size of your pay packet. Therefore, you should only take a commission-based job if you are very confident in your ability to sell. You not only need confidence but also the ability to convince others to believe in you and the products you are promoting. This means having communication skills that are truly top-notch.

Commission-based salespeople also need to be very self-disciplined. Rather than your boss hassling you to improve your performance, you will have to rely on your own drive to be more successful. According to Wendy Weiss, a sales coach who has written books on the subject, working for commission "takes a lot of self-discipline... You have to be very self-motivated."

The major downside of a commission-based job is the lack of certainty that it provides. With no guarantee that you will meet your monthly, quarterly or yearly sales targets, you cannot be sure of the size of the pay packet you will be taking home. Even if you are sure of your abilities as a salesperson, factors outside of your control could cause your income to take a nosedive. For example, a dip in the economy can cause even the best salespeople's figures to plummet, leaving them struggling to pay the bills.

If you have a risk-taking personality and thrive on the personal challenge of setting your own salary, then a commission-based job could be right for you. However, if you are looking for stability and a guaranteed income, which could be the case if you are planning to take on a mortgage or other major financial commitment, then you might prefer to stick with salaried employment.

Ultimately, the thing that marks the best commission-based salespeople out from the rest is their passion. According to Art Sobczak, president of, passion is essential to be successful in sales. Without passion, the challenge of hitting your weekly or monthly sales targets can easily begin to seem like a grind. A positive attitude and plenty of enthusiasm can keep you motivated when times get tough.

If you are considering taking a commission-based job, then you should first take some time to analyze your personality. Do you have the traits you need to succeed in this kind of role, such as strong communication skills, confidence, passion, self-discipline and the ability to cope with uncertainty?


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