Benchmarking Sales Commission: What You Need to Know

Siti Khairina Mohd Fikri
by Siti Khairina Mohd Fikri
Sep 13, 2023 at 3:13 PM

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Compensation is important in motivating your sales team and driving performance in the sales world. One of the key aspects of designing an effective compensation plan is benchmarking sales commission rates. Understanding the industry standards and best practices is essential to ensure your sales team remains motivated and competitive. In this article, let's discuss the intricacies of benchmarking sales commission rates and provide valuable insights on creating a compensation plan that works for your business.


Why Benchmarking Sales Commission Rates Matters

Benchmarking sales commission rates is the process of comparing your commission structure to industry standards and the practices of your competitors. This practice is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Competitive Edge: Staying competitive in your industry requires offering a commission structure that attracts and retains top-performing sales talent. If your rates are significantly lower than the industry average, you may need help attracting experienced salespeople.
  2. Motivation: Fair and competitive commission rates motivate your sales team to excel. When sales representatives see that their efforts are rewarded in line with industry standards, they're more likely to work harder and achieve higher sales targets.
  3. Retention: Sales professionals are likelier to stay with your company if they feel their compensation is fair and competitive. High turnover can be costly, both in terms of recruitment expenses and lost sales opportunities.
  4. Market Positioning: Your commission rates can also influence your company is perception. Offering above-average commissions can position your business as a desirable employer in the eyes of sales talent.


Key Steps in Benchmarking Sales Commission Rates

Now that we understand the importance of benchmarking sales commission rates:

1. Identify Your Industry: Start by identifying your industry or sector. Sales commission rates can vary significantly from one industry to another. For example, technology sales may have different standards than real estate or retail.

2. Research Industry Averages: Conduct thorough research to determine the average commission rates within your industry. You can consult industry reports and association data or contact competitors to gather information.

3. Consider Sales Roles: Different sales roles may warrant other commission structures. For example, inside sales representatives may have different rates than field sales representatives or account executives. Be prepared to differentiate between roles when benchmarking.

4. Evaluate Performance Metrics: Consider the performance metrics tied to commissions. Are you rewarding based on closed deals, revenue generated, or profit margins? Understanding how performance is measured in your industry is crucial.

5. Review Your Business Goals: Your commission rates should align with your business goals. If your strategy is to acquire new customers rapidly, you might offer higher commissions for new account acquisitions. If retention is your priority, you may focus on rewarding upsells and renewals.

6. Seek Legal and HR Guidance: Ensure your commission structure complies with local labour laws and regulations. Consulting with legal and HR professionals is essential to avoid potential legal issues.


Creating a Competitive Commission Structure

Once you've completed the benchmarking process, it's time to design a commission structure that aligns with your findings. Here are some additional tips:

  • Tiered Commissions: Consider implementing tiered commission structures where higher sales volumes result in higher commission rates. This can incentivize your sales team to aim for higher targets.
  • Bonuses and Incentives: Explore the possibility of offering bonuses or incentives for exceptional performance. These can be one-time rewards for surpassing targets or achieving specific milestones.
  • Regular Reviews: Sales commission rates should not be static. Review and adjust your commission structure to remain competitive and aligned with your business goals.
  • Communication: Transparently communicate your commission structure to your sales team. Ensure they understand how to earn commissions and what's expected of them.



In conclusion, benchmarking sales commission rates is critical for any business that relies on a motivated and high-performing sales team. By understanding industry standards, considering your business goals, and designing a competitive commission structure, you can attract, retain, and motivate top sales talent, ultimately driving the success of your business.

Also read: 7 Types of Sales Commission Structures & Examples


Remember that while benchmarking provides valuable insights, your unique business needs should always be at the forefront of your compensation strategy. Balancing industry standards with your company's goals is the key to creating a commission structure that benefits your sales team and your bottom line.


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