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Compensation Plans for Sales Agents

The world of outsourced telemarketing and B2B telemarketing has changed drastically over the last 15 years. The day to day world of a sales agent is different now as well, and is there any doubt that it has only gotten more difficult as time goes on? So, why do so many B2B telemarketing call centers insist on paying like it is 15 years ago? I say many, as it isn’t fair to lump everyone in the same boat. Many have adjusted, but not all.

Also, when I say adjusted, I don’t necessarily mean “pay more”.  Perhaps, but I am not going to put out there exactly what an outsourced telemarketing firm should pay its employees. Circumstances differ and what you can afford to pay is certainly the biggest factor. Geography is another. Competition is another. Regardless, there are some helpful tips that are useful when considering proper compensation.

Base Pay

It is always very tempting when hiring a sales agent to make the position based on commission only. Presumably there is unlimited earning potential for the agent and the company is only paying out if deals are getting closed. This structure might have its place, but if we are truly talking about the world of outsourced telemarketing programs, this type of structure is probably a mistake. First, you are limiting your talent pool because there are a great number of talented sales people that can’t even begin to consider a structure that doesn’t have a base pay. How much should the base be? Again, situations dictate different answers to this question, but it should be an amount that someone can live on with further earning potential based on performance.


Raining money on blonde womanOnce the base pay has been figured a commission plan should definitely be put in place for any type of sales position. Obviously the commission should be based on closing deals and hitting goals. What that amount is and what the specific goals are is going to depend, but here are the two biggest rules.

  • Significant opportunity for commissions should be given based on goals and stretch goals. These goals need to fair and realistic. Nothing will demotivate a person quicker than having an unrealistic goal.
  • The amount should be “life-changing”. Meaning, the amount they can make from commissions truly would make a significant impact on their life. That doesn’t mean struck gold or won the lottery life-changing. If have the opportunity to earn 15-25% more from commissions, that is a significant amount. 


Let’s say you are giving a good base wage and have an appropriate commission structure in place. Don’t forget about the power of bonuses and special incentives. As mentioned earlier, things have changed a lot in 15 years. One thing that should stay true is that the world of outsourced telemarketing and B2B telemarketing is that you have the opportunity to truly make it fun. A great compensation plan should not take that away. Fun prizes, games, team competitions, etc. are a part of the culture and should be. When you have an opportunity to make a challenging job fun you should take advantage of that. Everyone wins.


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