How to Thrive in a Commission-Based Job


At AIFP, our commodity traders go through a one-year paid apprenticeship program before they enter our commission-only sales structure. That means that by the time they graduate onto the sales floor, they’ve received the training they need to start their career as a commodity trader. But it can be a challenging transition to go from a regular, salaried paycheck to a commission-only pay structure. This resource can help you learn how to thrive in a commission-based job.

Understanding Commission Vs. Salary

A commission is a type of income that is directly tied to your sales performance. You might, for example, get 20% of your total sale paid to you as a commission. A salary, on the other hand, is a regular, fixed payment that you receive for performing work for a certain amount of time. While both of these pay structures can stand alone, some positions combine a base salary with a percentage-based commission.

What is a Commission-Based Job?

Commission-based jobs are roles in which you are paid some percentage of your sale as a commission. While sales jobs can also include some sort of base salary to supplement your pay, in commission-only sales jobs, you’ll make a higher percentage of your total sales, but you won’t receive any base salary.

How to Thrive in a Commission-Based Sales Job?

With commission-based jobs, the size of your paycheck directly reflects how much you sell during a given pay period. While this means that the harder you work, the more earning potential you have, it can also mean months where you’re taking in less money than you need. These career tips can help you figure out how to thrive in a commission-based sales job.

Know Your Expenses

Before you take a commission-based job, it’s important to understand your monthly expenses. Create a spreadsheet that includes all of your monthly expenses, including rent/mortgage, car payments, credit card payments, insurance costs, utilities, groceries, gas, etc. This will show you the minimum amount you need to make each month and can help you set sales goals for each month.

Pay Attention to Patterns

Different industries have different sales patterns. In the lumber industry, for example, you might find that you sell more lumber during the warmer months when people are doing more outdoor projects. You’ll want to pay attention to these sales trends and plan accordingly. If December tends to be a bad month for sales, for example, you might try to stick to a stricter budget during the month or set aside some extra money at more lucrative times of the year to be used during that month.

Set Money Aside During High Sales Months

If you want to thrive in commission-only sales jobs, it’s important to plan ahead for leaner months. That means that if you have a high-performing month, you should be setting some of that money aside to supplement your earnings during low-performing months. While it can be tempting to treat yourself to something special with extra earnings, you’ll want to make sure you’re putting at least some of that extra money aside so you can survive a few months with lower commissions.

Create a Healthy Work-Life Balance

One of the great things about commission-based jobs is that your pay is commensurate with how hard you’re working. While salary jobs have a cap on how much you can earn regardless of how many hours you’re putting in, commission-based jobs allow unlimited earning potential. But that also means that you have to be extra protective of your time. If you want to thrive in a commission-based job, you’ll have to put in the work to make sure that you’re finding a healthy work-life balance. While you do have the flexibility to work extra hours when you have extra expenses in a given month, you need to make sure that you’re still balancing meeting all of your personal and emotional needs so that you don’t end up suffering from burnout.

Prioritize Professional Development

With commission-only jobs, it’s easy to see how you’re performing based on how much money you’re making each month. This transparency allows you to notice patterns and figure out exactly what is and isn’t working in your sales strategy. If you want to thrive, make sure that you’re setting aside time each month to further develop any sales skills that could use some attention. Looking for a great commission-only sales job? Look no further than our one-year paid trader training program. Not only do we provide the industry training and sales support you need to succeed, but you’ll receive high-quality mentorship from successful commodity traders. Apply today to start your career at one of the best places to work in Portland, OR.

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