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They Changed My Sales Comp Plan! What Should I Do?

“I have over 15 years of sales experience, with over 5 years at a Fortune 500 company handling million-dollar accounts in a sales/maintenance role with about 20% new business development. After leaving that position due to a family issue, I struggled in my last couple of jobs as a ‘new business development’ salesperson. Long story short, three jobs later, I realize I am terrible at cold calling and don’t like it either. After 90 days, my current employer eliminated my base salary and put me on a commission-only plan. I have a pipeline that could allow me to match my salary, but I feel as if I’ve been slapped in the face, and my motivation to work with my CEO is seriously diminished. What would you suggest that I do?”

Well, for starters, no one “likes” cold calling. What you need to like is cold hard cash. So if you’re in sales and like cash, there’s hope for you because you can learn how to become successful at cold calling. It’s teachable. I might even know someone who could help.

But before we dig a little deeper into that, let’s discuss what most likely happened with your employer.

Does This Sound Familiar? Your stellar resume landed on the desk of your current employer, who was seeking someone that could help take his or her company to the next level. You interviewed well and were full of confidence. Shortly after that, the job and the “higher than they had budgeted” salary plus bonus structure was yours, and the boss couldn’t wait to see you make it rain.

Only it didn’t rain. It did the exact opposite of rain. You hit the longest drought of your sales career, and your employer can no longer afford to pay you on promises. They need cash to run a company and have decided to put you on straight commission.

You need to understand that selling by phone / cold calling/business development requires a different skill set than “managing” accounts. Kind of like how it’s one thing to be the running back, and it’s another to be the field goal kicker—same game. You can even be on the same team. But it requires a different skill set to be successful.

So with the economy the way it is, high-paying base salary jobs are hard to come by, let alone keep, and I get why your current employer realized that your impressive resume was no longer enough to justify what they were paying. You would be wise to see it from their viewpoint as well. Otherwise, you will never grow as a business professional.

However, I don’t get how your employer expects you to generate what they need most – revenue – without giving you the tools you need to be successful.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly believe salespeople are responsible for their success, including investing in themselves.

But if they believe in you yet need to take away your base, I would think they would want to at least look into helping you get the skills you need for everyone to win.

Unless they think it’s a “motivational” issue and that you needed to be motivated to sell… But here’s the thing, no one stays motivated when they keep getting rejected on the phone. And the only reason salespeople get rejected a lot is that they haven’t learned what to do and what not to do.

If they’ve offered to provide you with the sales training needed to improve your cold call skills, my advice is to take it and stick it out. Straight commissioned sales are where all the money is.

But if they’ve offered no help, you have three choices:

Get help on your own
Go work for a company that is willing to help their inside sales team succeed
Find a job/position that needs the skills you already possess

Here’s what I love about all three of these options:

You control all of them. Your success (or failure) is up to you.

– Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone teaches inside sales teams how to pick up the phone and close business. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company offering live & on-demand sales training and consulting.