Advice: "My company is trying to change the comp plan so they can avoid paying me commission"

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 sell medical equipment for a family-owned business. I’ve always been one of the top reps. The job is great and I’ve been able to earn some serious dough. Well, I’ve been working on a deal for the last few months. We’re almost at the finish line and I’m 90% certain it’s going to close. I’ve been keeping my manager up to date on the deal throughout the process and he’s been keeping the CEO informed. We’re all really banking on this deal. I stand to make just under six figures in commission from this one deal — my biggest paycheck ever.

I got an email from my manager last week (with the CEO cc’d) that they’re changing company policy and putting a cap on commissions for all reps. This deal will put me over the new limit and my commission on this deal will be cut by almost 30% because of the new cap.

What should I do? I haven’t responded yet as I’ve been weighing my options. They’re being greedy and it feels like they’re just adding this new cap to keep the money for themselves.

Furious in the Northeast   


Dear Furious,

It’s likely that by the time you read this, you will have already had the conversation. This is worth fighting for, and it would be incredibly unfair for them to change the comp plan as you’re getting a deal over the finish line. 

The best way to make your case is to leave emotion out of it, as difficult as that might be. Explain your perspective and do it without threats or accusations. Depending on the response, you will have a decision to make. 

If they agree with you and pay the commission, then your problem will be (mostly) resolved. If not, then you need to decide whether this is worth a legal fight. As you’ve seen in this newsletter, commission disputes sometimes end up in court, and the plaintiff wins quite often. But you’ll need to decide whether you want to devote the time, money and energy into the fight, or if it’s better to just cut your losses and work somewhere less dishonest. Good luck! 

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.