Category Archives for Commission

Donald Kelly, Sales Incentive

TSE 1115: Incentivize Them To Sell

Donald Kelly, Sales Incentive
Sellers often seek the path of least resistance, and if your programs aren’t designed to incentivize them to sell, your sellers may game the system and engage in activities that won’t help themselves or the company.
If you design your commission plans and your structures effectively, you’ll create more effective sellers who feel like they’ve actually earned something and who will achieve wins more often.

Happy sellers

As a sales leader, you know that your sales reps will make outbound calls and try to close deals. Your goal is to incentivize them to do their jobs. You want them to be happy. You also know that if they are earning something, they will feel good.
In the natural order of things, if they are doing well, they’ll love working for you and the company will prosper as well.

Flawed incentives

In her book, The Sales Development Playbook, Trish Bertuzzi lays out different concepts to help organizations develop the proper incentives. Sometimes companies design their incentives poorly so that reps are only encouraged to make phone calls.
Many reps will game that system because it doesn’t measure anything meaningful to the company. If you’re only counting activities, they’ll figure out that all they have to do is make phone calls.
You know, though, that appointments lead to more deals. So if you’re expecting an appointment every 20 phone calls, but your reps are simply calling and hanging up without having meaningful conversations, you won’t likely achieve those appointments.


Trish points out that many companies promise great incentives but we neglect to clarify the actual process were seeking. We make promises about being able to “earn more than the CEO” without explaining our expectations.
We fail to tell them, for example, that the sales cycle is seven months long, so it will likely take them about three months to really get established. They probably won’t make any real money until about 10 months into the process. Then it will take about 30 days beyond the close date for them to get their payout.
You can help them survive the long cycle by offering ways for the rep to win. Perhaps you’ll provide a more competitive base because you realize it will take them a while to build a commission.

Set up for success

Without a meaningful way to win, your sales reps may stick around for a few months and then move on to something else. Instead, set them up to succeed.
If you’re talking about your BDRs, how can you give them an opportunity to make money? If your AEs earn 10 percent for a closed deal because you know it will be a while before they close a deal, they’ll be eating pretty well. If your BDRs, on the other hand, earn only 1 percent, they’ll have to wait a long cycle before they get their piece. How excited do you think your people will be to work hard in the cycle?
What if you pay them per appointment set, but they get part at the beginning of the process and part at the back end of the process.
If you offer $10 for each appointment, they can earn $5 at the front and $5 at the back. If your reps set quality appointments with qualified prospects, they’ll earn $5 at the beginning and $5 at the end. If the prospect isn’t a quality one, they’ll get the initial money but not the money at the end.
Then, if you realize that your sellers have a lot of rejected opportunities, you can determine that either the AE is doing something wrong or the BDR is. Once you determine which is the case, you can coach them to close those deals.

Hoarding appointments

Here’s the other challenge. Some sales reps will realize that they’ve already earned what they needed for a certain month and they make the decision to sit on other opportunities for the following month. They hang on to them to make sure they’ll hit their numbers the next time.
Again, you can incentivize this. You can set an expectation of 20 leads per month, or five per week. If your reps hit that number, they will earn the full amount for those appointments. If your reps only land 16 appointments, their earnings will be pro-rated to reflect the shortfall.
If, on the other hand, some of your sellers exceed the 20 appointments, you can raise the amount they’ll earn for quality appointments. They’ll still get half at the front and half at the back.
Now everyone is happy because they are earning money throughout the process instead of starving until the deals close.

Make sure they eat

Make sure your sellers have an opportunity to eat.
I’m a strong believer that if hire the right people, pay people right, coach them, and train them, they’ll perform for you. But you also have to make sure they don’t game the system. Make sure that everyone walks away with the sense that the process is fair.

“Incentivize them to sell” episode resources

You can check out Trish Bertuzzi’s book, The Sales Development Playbook, with a free trial of Audible. Check out the 30-day free trial to listen to the book for free.

If you haven’t connected with me on LinkedIn already, do that at Donald C. Kelly and watch the things I’m sharing there.

You’ve heard us talk about the TSE Certified Sales Training Program, and we’re offering the first module free as a gift to you. Preview it. Check it out. If it makes sense for you to join, you can be part of our upcoming semester.

You can take it on your own or as part of the semester group.

If you and your team are interested in learning more, we’d love to have you join us. Call (561)578-1729 to speak directly to me or one of our team members about the program.

This episode is also brought to you in part by, a Chrome browser extension for Gmail that allows you to track and schedule your emails. You’ll receive real-time alerts anyone opens an email or clicks a link.

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Fear, New Seller, Confidence

TSE 1015: TSE Certified Sales Training Program – “Lack of Confidence”

Fear, New Seller, ConfidenceOne of my favorite topics to talk about is lack of confidence and the challenges and fear that come along with it; and, more specifically, how we can overcome it.

Paul Carswell was the salaried manager of a Sherwin-Williams storefront for many years before transitioning in 2018 to become an independent Medicare Insurance Specialist. He works with clients ages 65+ to help them and to bring value to their community.  

Surviving on a 100% commission-based income took some getting used to. Instead of clients walking into the store, Paul had to learn how to make calls and set appointments.

In order to educate potential clients on the complexities of the Medicare system, Paul also hosts educational events in the community. He uses podcasts like this one to reach out to as many people as possible. Such events help people to realize that his primary goal is to help the community rather than to simply earn a paycheck.

Lack of confidence

Moving from a salaried position to a commission-based position certainly caused some fear and trepidation. The transition of receiving a paycheck every two weeks, regardless of performance, to selling private insurance came with a steep learning curve.

Paul knew he had to get out in front of people. Nobody was simply “walking into the store anymore.” Previously, his whole day had been planned out for him. Now he had an empty schedule that only he could fill.

It seemed nice and relaxing for the first two weeks but then reality set in. With no paycheck coming in and no prospects on the calendar, Paul admits to feeling defeated.

A lack of confidence was setting in.

Regaining confidence

Paul had to put his pride aside and get busy. Drawing from his experience as a basketball player, he knew he had to take shots if he was ever going to score.

He started contacting old friends and networking – anything to populate his schedule. It didn’t matter if it was Medicare-related or not.

Paul found that the more he put on his calendar, the more he was able to begin to weed out the events that would not benefit his business. Eventually, after about eight weeks of making calls and networking – still without a paycheck – he finally had a full schedule of Medicare-related events to look forward to.

As a result of the changes he implemented, Paul improved his relationships with his friends by talking with them more. On the business side of things, he has increased his bookings from zero to 50 and is earning a decent income because of the work he put into it.

It didn’t all come at once, however, as it did before at Sherwin-Williams. In his current role, sales is a lengthy process instead of a quick sale with an immediate exchange of goods.

Learning to understand the long-term payout was his biggest struggle. As such, Paul advises everyone to stay focused on long-term goals.

The more people you get yourself in front of, the more you will realize how many people truly care about you and want your business to succeed.

“Lack of Confidence” episode resources

You can contact Paul on his cellphone at 703-342-9087 or via email at  Paul is on Instagram  @paulcarswell. He can also be found on Twitter and Facebook. His website will be up and running soon!

This episode is brought to you in part by, a powerful sales automation platform that allows you to build highly personalized, cold email campaigns. To learn more, go to It will help you with your outbound to expand your outreach. It allows you to set it and forget it. Your prospecting will never, ever be the same.

Previously known as TSE Hustler’s League, our TSE Certified Sales Program offers modules that you can engage on your own schedule as well as opportunities to engage with other sellers in other industries.

This episode is brought to you in part by, a Chrome browser extension for Gmail that allows you to track and schedule your emails. It’s super easy, it’s helpful, and I recommend that you try it out.

You’ll receive real-time alerts anyone opens an email or clicks a link.

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TSE 220: Full Commission vs. Based Salary

TSE 220: Full Commission vs. Based Salary

Full Commission vs. Base Salary:  Which should you go for?

I get this question quite often so in this episode, I’m gonna put my two cents in.

You see, I’ve basically done everything. I’ve done jobs on full commission, jobs that offered base salary + partial commission as well as jobs with just the base salary, no commission.

So, these are the things I’ve done early in my career. While I was still in college, I worked for an IT training company where we sold IT training classes and I brought in over half a million dollars in revenue in my ten years with the company. I had the option to either go on full commission or just get the base salary. The cautious Donald obviously went safe and I agreed on getting full salary because I was afraid. Kablaam!

I totally wish I had done the full commission, looking back. I probably could have performed a little bit more and earned more money. Not too bad though because I was still able to buy a car, help my family, and take care of myself.

So, learning from that experience. I did door-to-door security which was based on full commission. Yes, it can be lucrative but understand that you have to hunt for you to eat. No base salary, therefore, you need to sell if you want to make money. Period.

In each of these circumstances, I was single and I had nobody else to take care of but myself.

Now what if you’re married or with kids or have a mortgage to take care of?

Here are options you may take:

  1. Decrease the base, increase the commission percentage.

Try to negotiate in your contract if you can have the base salary that gradually declines over a period of time while of course increasing your commission percentage.

  1. Go 10-99.

The company can treat you as a vendor or consultant in a sense so you get a large portion of your commission every month without worrying about other things. Then you can negotiate not going to the office everyday or working from home. But… you have to have a proven record to show this. How? Start off working with the company. Show your worth, then go hustle for the 10-99 (wink!). One thing you need to check off your list though: Get a really good accountant to help you out with the taxes and all.

The Sales Evangelist, Donald Kelly, Donald C. Kelly