Advice: "I found out my coworker has a higher base and commission rate than me. Is this fair?"


Want to submit a question and be featured in our advice column? Click here. (Don't worry, you'll remain completely anonymous).

Dear Quota Team,

I have only been in sales for less than two years. Currently, I am on my second sales job. I got laid off from my first one along with hundreds of others, through no fault of my own. I like my new job. My boss seems like a good person and we’re given leads and treated well. 

A few weeks ago, I was trying to figure out my commission check. I was logged into our company’s commission tracking system, but I couldn’t really make sense of it. Our comp plan was never clearly explained to me, it was only explained in vague terms. I understand that I should have asked more questions before accepting the job, but I honestly really needed to get some income coming in.

I was confused by commission software, so I asked one of my coworkers for help. He is extremely nice and has been helpful since I started working here. He pulled up his own commission screen to help explain how to interpret everything. What he said made sense, but as I looked at his payouts, I realized that he is being compensated for each deal at a higher rate than I am. Not only that, but I caught a glimpse of his base pay which is also higher than mine.

Seeing this made me pretty confused and upset. Is it normal for different reps within an organization to be compensated differently? He is a great guy, so I am not taking anything away from him, but it seems pretty unfair to me. Do you think I’m being taken advantage of, or is this par for the course? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks. 

Confused in South Carolina 


Dear Confused,

To answer your question, it’s not “normal” for different reps to be compensated differently, but it’s also not impossible. In some cases, an aggressive and enterprising rep might have negotiated a higher base pay and different commission structure during their interview process. It’s not incredibly common, but it certainly happens.

This is why you should always advocate for yourself and ask questions during the interview process. Not only should you know what your comp plan is going to look like, you should also find out what percentage of reps are hitting their quota. You can use sites like RepVue to try to understand what’s going on within a sales organization before you join.

The bigger point here is that while you are an employee, the relationship with the company needs to work both ways. A successful sales rep knows that if they don’t ask for something, they’ll never get it, so make sure you ask for as much as possible, even if it’s just a matter of transparency. So when it’s time for your annual review, don’t be afraid to bring up a pay bump. Now you know it’s possible.

You might also like

Everything sales, straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Quota, a fun, free weekly newsletter for salespeople and sales leaders -- from the people who brought you Sales Humor.

Thanks for subscribing! Just one more step!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.