How To Find The Rate Of Sales Commission

How To Find The Rate Of Sales Commission

Are you a salesperson wondering how to calculate your commission earnings? Understanding your commission rate is crucial to maximizing your income and aligning your efforts with your company’s goals. 

Simply put, your commission rate is the percentage of a sale that you earn as commission. But the process of determining this rate can vary based on factors like your compensation plan, sales targets, and the types of products or services you sell. 

Let’s explore the key steps to find and understand your commission rate, so you can effectively plan and track your earning potential.

What is a Sales Commission?

A sales commission is a compensation model where salespeople earn a percentage of the revenue they generate through successful sales

It’s a performance-based incentive system that rewards salespeople for their ability to close deals, generate revenue, and drive revenue for the company.

What is a Commission Rate?

The commission rate is the specific percentage of a sale that a salesperson receives as their commission. 

For example, if the commission rate is 10%, the salesperson earns 10% of the total sale amount as their commission.

What is a Commission Calculation?

Commission calculation is the sales process used to determine the commission amount a salesperson has earned based on their actual sales performance and the predetermined commission rate or structure.

How to Calculate Commission?

How to Calculate Commission?

Calculating sales commissions involves several steps, depending on the complexity of the sales commission structure used. Here’s a general overview of the process:

1️⃣Determine the Commission Period

Decide on the time frame for which commissions will be calculated, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually.

2️⃣Calculate the Commission Base

Identify the base amount on which the commission will be calculated. This could be the total sales revenue, the gross margin commission, profit, or another metric specified in the commission plan.

3️⃣Calculate the Payable Commission

Apply the commission rate to the commission base to determine the total commission amount owed to the salesperson for the sales period only.

Example: If the commission rate is 10%, and the total sales revenue (commission base) is $100,000, the payable commission would be $10,000 (10% of $100,000).

4️⃣Apply Any Commission Variables

Some commission plans may include additional variables, such as thresholds, accelerators, or decelerators, which can affect the final commission amount.

5️⃣Apply Tiered Commission Rates

In a tiered commission structure, different commission rates apply to different levels of sales performance. Calculate commissions for each tier separately.

6️⃣Calculate Any Overrides

Some commission plans include overrides, which are additional commissions paid on sales made by other salespeople under the supervision of a sales manager or leader of a sales department or team.

7️⃣Deduct Returns

In some cases, commissions that sales employees or reps earned on sales that are later returned or canceled may need to be deducted from the salesperson’s commission.

8️⃣Split Commissions

If multiple sales people contributed to a sale, the commission may need to be split among them according to a predetermined arrangement.

Types of Commission Rate Models

There are several common commission rate models used by companies:

Types of Commission Rate Models

🔎Straight Commission

In a straight commission model, the salesperson’s entire compensation is based on a fixed percentage of their sales revenue. 

This model is commonly used for independent contractors or in highly commission-driven industries like real estate.

🔎Base Plus Commission

This model combines a fixed base salary with a commission percentage on sales revenue generated. The base fixed salary still provides a steady income, while the commission incentivizes higher sales performance.

🔎Draw Against Commission

In this model, salespeople receive a regular “draw” (a fixed amount paid in advance) against their future commissions. The draw is then deducted from their earned commissions, and any excess commission is paid out.

How to Find the Commission Rate

To determine your commission rate, follow these steps:

🎯Create the master formula

The basic formula for calculating commissions is:

 Commission = Commission Rate x Commission Base

🎯Determine your base salary

If you’re on a base plus commission plan, identify your base salary amount.

🎯Determine your advance pay

If you’re on a draw against the commission plan, find out the amount of your regular draw.

🎯Understand your commission rate

Your commission rate may be a fixed percentage, or it could be a tiered structure where different rates apply at various sales levels.

🎯Input your figures to calculate your potential income

Use the commission formula and your specific compensation details to calculate your potential earnings based on different sales performance scenarios.

Here’s a comparison table demonstrating how commission earnings vary based on different compensation models and sales teams’ performance levels:

Commission ModelBase SalaryCommission RateSales RevenueCommission Earned
Straight Commission$010%$100,000$10,000
Base + Commission$50,0005%$200,000$60,000
Draw Against Commission$30,000 draw8%$150,000$12,000 – $30,000 draw = -$18,000 (no commission paid)
Tiered Commission$40,0005% on first $100k, 10% on remaining$150,000$5,000 + $5,000 = $10,000

This table shows how average sales commission rates and earnings can vary significantly depending on the sales compensation model and sales performance.

Factors that Influence Commission Payments

Several factors can influence the commission payments a salesperson receives, including:

Sales quotasMany commission plans include sales quotas or targets that must be met before commissions are paid.
Product or service mixDifferent commission rates may apply to different products or services sold.
Customer typeCommissions may vary based on the type of customer (e.g., new vs. existing customers).
Sales territoryCommission rates can differ based on the geographic territory or market segment.
Team or individual performanceSome commission plans factor in team or company-wide performance goals.

Commission Structures Explained

🔎Straight Commission Structure

In a straight commission structure, salespeople earn a fixed percentage of their sales revenue as their sole compensation. 

This plan is often used for sales leaders as independent contractors or in industries like real estate, where commissions make up the majority of a salesperson’s income.


  • Highly motivating for top performers
  • No base salary costs for the company


  • High risk for salespeople with inconsistent sales
  • Potential for high turnover

🔎Graduated Commission Structure

A graduated commission structure offers different common sales commission structures and rates at various sales performance levels. As sales increase, the residual commission structure and rate may also increase, providing additional incentives for higher performance.


  • Encourages salespeople to strive for higher sales levels
  • Rewards top performers with higher commission rates


  • Can be complex to calculate and communicate
  • May demotivate sales people stuck at lower commission tiers

🔎Revenue Commission Structure

In a revenue commission structure, salespeople and sales reps earn a percentage of the total revenue they generate from sales. 

This is a straightforward and common, basic revenue commission percentage model.


  • Simple to understand and calculate
  • Aligns salesperson incentives with company revenue goals


  • Doesn’t account for profitability or product mix
  • May incentivize salespeople to focus solely on top-line revenue

🔎Gross Profit Commission Structure

Rather than basing commissions to sales representatives on total revenue, a full gross margin commission structure or profit commission structure calculates commissions as a percentage of the gross profit generated from sales. This model accounts for the profitability of each sale.


  • Incentivizes salespeople to prioritize profitable sales
  • Aligns with company profitability goals


  • More complex calculation than revenue-based commissions
  • Requires accurate gross profit data for each sale

🔎Tiered Commission Structure

A tiered sales commission structure outlines and offers different commission rates at various sales performance tiers or levels. As salespeople reach higher tiers, their commission rate increases.


  • Highly motivating for top performers
  • Rewards higher sales achievement with higher commission rates


  • Can be complex to calculate and communicate
  • May demotivate sales people stuck at lower commission tiers

Choose Your Commission Period: Monthly or Biweekly Basis or Custom Period

The commission period refers to the time frame over which sales commissions are calculated and paid out to sales agents. Common commission periods include:

Commission PeriodDescription
MonthlyCommissions are calculated and paid out on a monthly basis.
QuarterlyCommissions are calculated and paid out every three months.
AnnuallyCommissions are calculated and paid out once per year.

Some companies may also use custom commission periods, such as biweekly or semi-annually, to better align with their sales cycles or payroll processes.

Specifying the Commission Interval

When setting up a commission plan, it’s essential to clearly define the commission interval or period. This ensures that salespeople understand when they will be paid commissions and can plan accordingly.

Shorter commission intervals (e.g., monthly or biweekly) can provide more frequent income for salespeople, but may also require more administrative overhead for the company. Longer intervals (e.g., quarterly or annually) may be easier to manage but could create cash flow issues for salespeople.


👉How do I calculate my commission rate if I’m on a tiered commission structure?

In a tiered commission structure, different commission rates apply to different sales performance levels or tiers. 

To calculate your right sales commission structure and rate, you’ll need to identify which tier your sales fall into and apply the corresponding commission rate for that tier. The sales commission structures and rates typically increase as you reach higher sales tiers.

👉Can my commission rate change during the commission period?

Commission rates are generally set at the beginning of a commission period (e.g., monthly, quarterly, or annually) and remain fixed for that entire period. 

However, companies may adjust commission rates or structures at the start of a new commission period, so your rate could potentially change from one period to the next.

👉Are commissions paid on the total sales revenue or just the profit?

This depends on the specific territory volume commission structure and plan used by your company. 

Some companies pay commissions based on total sales revenue, while others use a gross profit commission structure where commissions are calculated as a percentage of the gross profit generated from sales. Review your commission plan to understand the commission base used in your case.

👉Do I earn commissions on sales made by other salespeople on my team?

In some commission plans, particularly for those sales reps receive as managers or team leaders, there may be provisions for earning residual commission for overrides or additional commissions on sales made by other salespeople under their supervision.

However, this is not a standard practice in all commission plans, so you’ll need to check the details of your specific plan.

👉Can my employer deduct or claw back commissions if a sale is canceled or returned?

Yes, many commission plans include provisions for deducting or clawing back commissions earned on sales that are later canceled or returned. This helps ensure that salespeople are only paid commissions on sales that are truly final and completed. The specific terms for handling returns or cancellations should be outlined in your commission plan.


You know, understanding sales commissions is crucial, but it can definitely be a confusing topic. The key takeaways are,

🎯Get crystal clear on your specific compensation model – whether it’s straight commission, base plus commission, or draw against commission.

🎯Understand the details of your commission rate and how it’s calculated, especially if it’s a tiered or graduated structure.

🎯Don’t leave money on the table – things like returns, team/individual targets, and product mixes can all impact your commissions, so stay on top of it.

At the end of the day, being an informed salesperson who truly grasps commissioning puts you in the driver’s seat for maximizing your income potential. Just keep learning, hustling, and advocating for yourself – the sky’s the limit when you’ve mastered the art of sales commissions!

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