Skip to main content

Tips for Negotiating a Salaried Sales Job After Poor Commissions

Tips for Negotiating a Salaried Sales Job After Poor Commissions

Monster member jdtauber posts: I am in the process of looking for a new sales job for the first time in seven years. I am confident in my selling skills and in my ability to close. I have been selling promotional products and corporate apparel B2B, and I’m pursuing a job in software/tech sales. I’m not certain how to translate my skill set so I can be taken seriously by these types of companies.

Also, I have been on straight commission, and my recent sales activity has been poor, which is what has led me to seek a new line of work. In negotiating salary, I do not want to disclose my most recent years’ sales, and I’m not certain how to discuss benefits and salary, because I have been an independent contractor without benefits or salary for the past three years.

I am a very honest person and do not want to give the perception that I am hiding anything, but I need to make a lot more money than I’m making now, and I’d like to get a job with benefits. If I disclose that I don’t have any benefits and that I’m pretty much self-employed, I feel like I don’t have any leverage at the negotiating table.

What can I do?

The Negotiation Expert responds: If the subject comes up, I think you have to be honest about what you’ve been doing for the past three years. Obviously, you’re going to have to describe what you’ve been doing on your resume or on a job application. That’s not to suggest you have to spill your guts about any lack of success you may feel you’ve had. Be honest, but I don’t think you have to blurt out that your sales haven’t been good or that you don’t have benefits. You need to highlight what the job has been and also be prepared to highlight the skills you have that are transferable to other types of jobs.

Once you get to the interview stage, you can be more candid about your desire to change career paths, making it plain that commission selling simply isn’t the best path for you, but that you have skills A, B, C and D that will have value to a prospective employer.

You also need to have a realistic salary range in mind in case you’re asked your salary expectations. Come up with a range that will allow you to pay your bills and make ends meet on the low end, because the object of the exercise at this point is to get your foot in the door and prove what you can accomplish.

There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’re switching careers because commission selling just didn’t work for you. Lack of monetary success is one of the primary reasons people switch jobs anyway, so there’s nothing odd about the reason you’re looking. The point is to effectively highlight your strengths as they relate to the requirements of jobs for which you’re being considered.

Learn more about sales careers.


Education programs to fit your profession