How to Create a Sales Team without Commissions

Last week I wrote about The Dark Side of Sales Commissions, which highlighted that commissions can produce a self-centred focus, unethical practices, and a negative competitive mindset. Today, I will share with you three ways you can create a highly-motivated sales team without paying commissions.

  1. Hire people who believe in your cause

In Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why,” the author emphasises the importance of thinking first about purpose before activities. Doing so will ensure that your decisions move in the right direction, and makes it easier for your clients to understand and do business with you.

The same principle applies when hiring sales consultants. If they understand and believe in your “why,” they will naturally want to and enjoy selling your product. When deciding who to hire, look for people who like to help people, and can easily see how your product benefits your clients.

  1. Pay a generous base

Daniel Pink in his book “Drive” points out that while the traditional ‘carrot and stick’ approach to motivation can work in manual labour, it falls woefully short in inspiring knowledge workers such as sales consultants. Now, this is a broad generalisation, and I will not dispute that there are some who put money as their top criteria for career choice. I contend however, that the majority will look to non-financial factors such as work environment, personal growth, and purpose for motivation.

The caveat to this rule is that you must pay them a rate that they feel is fair. This means compensating them for what they might have earned in commissions in comparable positions. Once you have met their minimum expected pay, anything above this will do very little in providing extra motivation. Set their base at a generous level that mostly makes up for a lack of commissions, and make your workplace a fun and supportive place to further increase satisfaction.

  1. Reward team achievement

If you set a target for the team to achieve, your staff will be more likely to help each other succeed. I have seen some companies use financial incentives for the whole team if goals are met, and others fund social events like a team lunch. This doesn’t remove the need for personal accountability – everyone has to pull their weight. If an individual is struggling to meet their targets, look for ways you and the team can help them increase performance.


This list is by no means comprehensive, but to build a non-commissioned sales team you need to hire people who believe in your cause, pay a generous base, and reward team achievement. If you agree or disagree with these thoughts, please feel free to voice them in the comments below!

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The Dark Side of Sales Commissions

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