Need to Know about Sales Commission

Within a commission structure, a company compensates its employees based on the revenue they generate for the business.

By definition, commission is a fee paid to an employee for transacting a piece of business or performing a service.

Commission structures are most common in sales heavy industries, such as retail, real estate, insurance and the stock market. There’s also a prominent spot for commission structures within sales teams of direct sale products or services. Direct sale products or services are sold directly to a customer, without having a retail storefront.

There are different tax treatments for commissions, versus other income types.

If you are running your own payroll, make sure you are aware of the commission tax guidelines for your country, state/province or city. If you run payroll using online software, you should make sure they are able to calculate taxes on commission pay.

At Ainetx, we calculate all of the applicable taxes on provided gross commission totals. As an employer, you need to provide the gross commission amount and we take care of the rest, including all year-end reporting.

Your employee’s gross commission total would be $2000.

Employers need to calculate a gross commission value for each employee depending on the different employment commission structures.

In this post, we will outline 7 different ways you can include commission in your pay structure.

  1. Bonus Commission
  2. Commission Only
  3. Salary + Commission
  4. Variable Commission
  5. Graduated Commission
  6. Residual Commission
  7. Draw Against Commission

1. Bonus Commission

Bonus commissions are an opportunity to reward employees for their success. These bonuses are in addition to an employee’s established pay and are usually based on pre-established earning quotas.

Bonus commissions can be awarded to individuals, teams or even company-wide for extraordinary performances

This type of sales commission structure is common within startup organizations that want to reward high achievers and keep up office morale.

Remember that any bonuses paid to an employee, even as a cash gift, are considered taxable and should be included within their total yearly earnings.

2. Straight Commission

Straight commission can also be referred to as commission-only because it is the only pay an employee receives. There is no base salary or hourly wage included in this pay structure.

All compensation is based on an agreed-upon percentage of sales. Companies can benefit from a straight commission setup because they do not have to pay for anything unless an employee is generating business.

This type of commission is most common within the real estate and auto industries.

3. Salary + Commission

A salary with commission is the most common type of commission structure. In this case, an employee has a fixed salary base, but they also receive commissions for their sales or performance.

This structure has the luxury of stability while also encouraging employee performance. The fixed salary is steady, but generally smaller because much of someone’s income is still determined by sales.

This type of commission is most common within retail industries.

4. Variable Commission

Variable commission is as it sounds, varying based on the type of sale.

With this setup, any simple or easy to acquire sales can be rewarded differently than tough sales to encourage growth in specific markets. It can also be used to reward the sale of long-term contracts or highly desirable customers.

This type of commission is most common for businesses trying to break into new markets because the setup encourages and rewards specific types of sales.

5. Graduated Commission

A graduated commission focuses on performance. A company can set up various tiers, and an employee will be paid the commission amount for the achieved level of sales.

This could look like 5% of the first $20,000 of sales, 10% of the next $20,000 of sales and 15% of any sales made above the $40,000 mark.

The actual commission percentage will increase incrementally at a predetermined rate as an employee reaches higher levels of sales.

This type of commission is most common for businesses that want to incentivize sales volume.

6. Residual Commission

A residual commission structure is for ongoing accounts. With this setup, an employee will continue to receive commission on a sale as long as it continues to generate revenue.

Residual commission has both pros and cons for sales employees.

Employees can benefit from this type of commission because, after a time, they will begin to build a steady commission income from their residual sales. On the flipside, losing a long-term sale can suddenly reduce an employee’s earnings by a significant amount

This type of commission is most common for agencies, consulting firms and any businesses that prioritize long-term accounts

7. Draw Against Commission

With a draw against system, employees are advanced a predetermined draw that’s deducted from their commission on each following pay.

After the draw amount is paid out of the commissions on the following pay, the employee is left with the remainder. If an employee is unable to make the draw amount in commissions, they will owe that amount back to the company.

Someone can take additional pay from the next set of commissions, but if an employee has a few bad sale cycles in a row, they can be left with significant debt

This type of commission is most common for businesses with lengthy or seasonal sales cycles.

The different types of commission setups can be combined to create the perfect structure for your business. A salary + commission structure can be specialized by also including a graduated or variable system.