If you are reading this there is a good chance you are hiring or have considered hiring full commission sales people. Having hired thousands ourselves, here are a few ideas you can use.
First, is full commission good, or bad? I have personally worked on full commission and earned considerably more than most, if not all others in the department. Top performing sales people will always earn more on pure commission compared to base-plus, all other factors remaining equal.
But unfortunately offering pure commission alone will not yield the best sales people. Why is that? Because with full commission comes risk... the more unknowns, the more variables, the more speculative the opportunity is, the more risk is associated with is. So, while a rational sales person should favor full commission when he/she knows how much they can sell, the same rational sales person will prefer a guarantee if the unknowns, the risks, are too great.
If you find yourself in this situation consider the following ways in which we have seen employers successfully overcome these risks.
Company's Brand Recognition - The most superficial way a sales person can judge what it's like to sell for the company. If your company has none, mention the number of customers you have and how long you have been selling to them.
Are Leads Provided - Warm leads make the sales job much easier, it suggests there is demand for the product/service, and shortens the sales cycle. If possible, provide leads.
Comprehensive Training and Shadowing - Not only does this reduce turnover it indicates to the sales person that your company is willing to invest time and resources in their success.
Short Sales Cycles - Since the sales person is not being paid for their time, they will need to see a return on their time invested very quickly. Shorter sales cycles make full commission possible. If your sales cycle is more than two weeks we don't suggest pure commission.
Fast Commission Payouts - Why wait to pay out commissions? No one wants to wait to be paid, paying sales people immediately will begin to build trust and of course reduce the perceived risk.
Upside Potential - Possibly the biggest factor is the potential. If you can convince the sales person that the reward is big enough, and the probabilities are high enough you can overcome the risk. Sales by itself is a little riskier than most careers, financially speaking, but less so than starting a business for example. You can think of a full commission job as somewhere in between.
Finally, comb through Craigslist in your town where you are sure to find many full commission jobs advertised. Pay attention to how other companies are trying to overcome risk. Hopefully this will give you some ideas of what you can do to better your odds.