Let’s be real, going commission-only scares the living hell out of most people. The numbers show it scares the hell out of most salespeople, too because a large majority of them have a base, guarantee or salary to go with their commission. Going commission-only means it’s all up to your sales ability to earn an income. Most people aren’t that confident in their sales skills.
On the other hand, I’ve never had a salaried job in my life. I’ve never taken a paid vacation. And I’ve never gotten paid time off or paid sick days. My entire life I’ve been on commission and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Partly because I don’t really know any other way and when you get used to something, no matter how obscure it may be, it just becomes normal.
We all remember that scene in Glengarry Glen Ross where Alec Baldwin says, “You’ll be crying saying I used to work in sales, it’s a tough racket.” There are millions of people across the United States alone who’ve said those exact words. Most people are scared to death of commission-only sales jobs.
The richest people I know write their own checks.
I took a survey from a segment of my list and organized the top six reasons why most people are scared shitless of landing a commission-only sales job. As we both know, a job in sales ain’t for everyone. Her are some of the biggest reasons why.
Most Commission-Only Sales Jobs Are Sketchy – Let’s be real, when you hear “commission-only” you probably think they don’t have enough money to pay a base. These types of jobs are usually on Craigslist or Backpage. You know the ad, the one that says, “We’re looking for Closers and if that’s not you, don’t even fill out the app.” These ads seem sketchy AF.
Not all commission sales jobs are that way, though. When I started originating mortgages back in 2003, it was commission-only. Yet I worked for a banker and an attorney. They were far from broke, but they damn sure weren’t going to pay anyone who wasn’t willing to take a risk. I ended up making over 2 million dollars during my short tenure in mortgages. All by commission-only.
They Can’t Survive the Fish Hook – I don’t know about you, but every time I’ve had to take on a new sales job, I start out broke AF. I remember when I started that mortgage job in 2003, I had like $250 to my name and my rent was due, which was $800. I was so broke I couldn’t pay attention. In the mortgage business, it usually takes 90 days to get a good paycheck. It’s a slow business. I call this the fish hook.
A fish hook has a hook on one end, a dip in the middle and a longer back end. Sales is like that, you come in strong, make a sale, then you have a huge learning curve to overcome. Beginner’s luck only lasts so long. Most people drop out of their sales job when they are in the dip of the fish hook. Most people can’t go 1-2 months without money in order to get rich. Most quit anything that gets hard. The fish hook is no exception.
Salaries Are Comforting – Let’s not forget the obvious. It’s a helluva lot easier to get a job with a decent, comforting salary than it is to get a job where 100% of the income is dependent on your skill set. Most salaries come with long contracts guaranteeing rights and entitlements to the employee. Commission-only jobs don’t work that way. The only promise is “if you close, you get commission.” Salaries are for sheep.
Many young folks will spend $80,000 in college money to land a $40,000/year job. It’s really becoming the American way of doing things. Meanwhile, those of us who are willing to forego formal education for practical experience are making millions in commission-only jobs. Salaries are comforting, commission is limitless.
They Are Uncertain of Their Sales Skills – Sales ain’t for everyone. Some people think they are good at sales but they belong in the marketing department. Sales takes thick skin, hard work, and a proven process you can rely on over and over so that you can predict your closing rate. Outsiders think you have to be a fast talker and high energy person. While this helps, that’s a small part of a bigger picture.
In 2015 and 2016 I had contests to come work for me. The people who applied were great people, however, none of them are currently working for me. They were all let go or they tapped out because their sales skills weren’t what they thought they were. These were great salespeople, just not elite salespeople. Most people will say they are confident in their sales skills, but very few truly are.
They Lack Self Discipline – Most people can’t arrive on time to a job where they are guaranteed money, let alone one where no one tells them what to do. The majority of people need to be led. They need someone to tell them what to do, how to do it, why they should do it and when they want it done.
Most commission-only jobs are free range. Meaning, since you write your own check, you come and go as you please. The average person lacks the self-discipline to do stuff even when they don’t “have to.” Waking up later, leaving work earlier, taking more days off, these are the things most people find themselves doing when they are not properly led.
They Tried It Once and Failed Miserably – I bet you know 100 people who at one point had a job in sales but quit to take a job with a salary. Almost everyone takes a job in sales at one point in their life. Most people get a job in sales early because of the low barrier or entry. As with anything else, only 10% of the people who go into sales are any good at it. This means there’s a 90% chance most people will fail at selling.
Smart people know that if you try something once and fail, you learned a lesson, and you need to keep going. Scared people fail and accept it as their fate. Most people live their life in fear and from a place of lack. Since they failed once, they choose to make it a complete failure and not a lesson. The top salespeople never accept failure and are always willing to learn lessons.
Sales ain’t for everyone. Matter of fact, sales is a full contact sport where only the strong survive. The difference between me in the corner office vs. the people I’ve worked with who were in cubicles is that I never accepted failure. I never quit, I just kept trying to make more sales. I’ve never met anyone in a cubicle who earned more than I do. Matter of fact, these days I don’t meet many people who earn more than I do anyway. All from sales.