The Dark Side of Sales Commissions

Earning sales commissions feels great! The rush of hard work paying off and winning is one-of-a-kind. When I first entered the field of sales, I would dream of what I would do with the extra money. It wasn’t long however, until I saw a dark side to these sales incentives. I saw consultants pushing products on people. Others exploited loopholes in the reporting to falsely claim sales. If you are ever in a position to hire sales consultants, today’s article will show some reasons you may want to reconsider offering sales commissions.

  1. It can shift focus away from the client to themselves

Intent matters. If the primary reason for selling is to make commissions, the consultant will likely put their interests before the client’s. Clients will sense this in the consultant’s words, body language, and tone. How much is a client going to trust a self-interested consultant? A major key to selling is ensuring that the client comes first. The natural result is the client looking after the consultant!

  1. It can encourage unethical practices

As mentioned I have witnessed some pretty dodgy sales practices in my time. On the lower end of the scale, sales consultants can be pushy and manipulative with clients. On the higher end, I have witnessed fraudulent reporting to illegally earn commissions. I’m not saying that all salespeople will act unethically because of commissions, but the structure does support this behaviour.

  1. It can foster a competitive rather than cooperative mindset

While many sales consultants thrive on competition, this drive is best directed towards competing companies rather than colleagues. By setting individual commission incentives, there is little reason for sales consultants to work cooperatively. This in turn may inhibit a healthy workplace culture.


I’m not against earning money or profit. Sales commissions are not inherently bad. They do however, have the ability to bring out the worst in some sales consultants. Next week I will offer three points on how to create a sales team without commissions, but until then keep on selling!

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Sales Ethos helps companies increase revenue through sales training in Melbourne. We achieve results through sales coachingcustomer service trainingsales management training, and sales process consultingBen Lai is a sales trainer and business coach in Melbourne, and offers public sales training courses in Melbourne.

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2 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Sales Commissions

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