If I had a nickel for every time someone spouted out the phrase, “we all sell,” I’d have enough nickels to pay for Redskin parking. Trust me, that’s a lot of nickels! Yes, it’s true that we all sell, and for people who sell for a living, I might be preaching to the choir. But for those who don’t sell for a living, I want to take this point a bit deeper.
Ask someone why he or she doesn’t want to sell, and for the most part, you’ll hear two answers. The first is fear of rejection. Let’s leave that alone for another BLArticle.™ That leaves us with the thought, or perhaps I should say “the fear” of a commissioned salary. From the outside looking in, it’s kind of scary being on commission. It’s hard to budget around an income that’s going to vary, and so many folks run for the hills the moment they hear there is a commission involved. I should know; I did for about the first thirty minutes I was offered my first contract at New York Life.
I was wet behind the ears, just having graduated from the University of Maryland, and I sat down with a New York Life representative to “negotiate” my salary. New York Life was a unique insurance company for many reasons, one of which was that they offered two salary options. The first was a straight commission, and the second was what they called “a draw.” I would be responsible for selling a certain amount of insurance each month, and I would be paid a set amount each month. Whatever I sold above that amount would be kept in an account. If I had a bad month of selling, taking some of the money from that account would bring up my salary back.
I couldn’t believe my good fortune. In my eyes, I had found an insurance company that would take the pressure off of my having to hit set sales goals and a fluctuating salary. Instead, I would be paid just like all my friends who were not selling! How perfect was that!
With my goofy man-about-town grin, I wandered around the office one more time before I signed. That’s when one of the grizzled sales vets motioned for me to come into his office. He shut the door and said, “You’re about to sign your contract, aren’t you?” I nodded, smiling. “And I’ll bet you like that set draw contract, don’t you?” Again, I threw him my goofy smile. His response was slow, and measured, and I remember it like it was yesterday:
“Don’t sign that contract. Son, in this world, there are two types of people. Those that get up in the morning, and try and figure out what they can do to just get by, and those who get up in the morning and figure out what they can do to exceed the expectations of others. You look like that second person. Commission has nothing to do with this contract. If you underachieve, and you don’t have enough in your bank account to pay yourself, you will be fired. If you overachieve, your reward will be for the company to hold that money and you will not be compensated for over two years. If you leave before two years, you forfeit that money. So which contract makes sense now?” I went on full commission and never looked back.
I bring this story to you for a reason. I’m not trying to tell everyone who doesn’t sell to go on full commission. I’m trying to tell everyone that doesn’t sell that you already are on full commission, and many of you are simply not being compensated.
It doesn’t matter if you work for The New York Life or The New York Post; you still have a job to do.
• If you don’t do the job well, you will be asked to leave… just like a salesman.
• If you get up in the morning and think “what do I have to do to just get by,” you’ll probably survive and get just what the company promised you… just like a salesman.
• If you do the job exceedingly well, you will receive a handshake and the possibility of a promotion… just like a salesman. However, a salesman will be monetarily compensated for their exceptional performance.
I’m not trying to ruffle the feathers of my loyal readers who don’t sell. What I am trying to do is to get you to see that not only do we all sell, but we are all on our own form of commission. Don’t fear it – embrace it!