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Living on a commission-only pay
Career / 3:43 PM - Saturday June 02, 2007

Living on a commission-only pay

Serious responses only:

Does anyone out there work on a commission-only basis? I've been offered a sales position with an insurance company (Sterling) selling medicare supplement insurance. Since I live in western AZ and we have thousands of "snow turds" on Medicare, there is a huge market. We're very rural, so there aren't any other agents out this way, unlike Phoenix.

But, I'm concerned about how much I'll make on average, and if I'll be able to support my family with it. How do you survive if you have a slow month and don't get any commissions? I figured I'd have to sell 20 policies a month in order to survive.

I've never done sales before, having just quit teaching. My sister is successful selling LTC insurance and annuities, but I've also seen her have a very bad year last year.

I need some good advice about if I should take this position. I'm pretty sure I could be successful in selling, but since I've never done it before, I need to know what it's like.

- Asked by c15312, Female, 46-55, Chicago, Other Profession

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I'm a contractor, which is a step or two above a commissioned insurance salesman (which I've also been). I did insurance for 6 months and made enough to pay the gas. Meanwhile my friends held down better jobs, had their nights and weekends home and paid their bills. It may go well with you, but you'd better be ready for a lot of little to no money income. The life expectancy of a sales person is very short - thats why they pay you a commission instead of a salary. Another thing to remember is that you are not going to have all that time off to do your hobby and things. Nor will you be able to work your
"own" schedule. Customers dictate when you will come see them and they change their schedule often. Many times forgetting you had an appointment with them.

I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm just saying that you had better be ready for some blood, sweat and tears. I know teaching is no easy work, but neither is sales.

I know of two companies in the AZ area you might be interested in but will not disclose them over the Net. The work is interesting and the money is decent and salary is paid biweekly. And if you want to travel a little, that option is available. Its not a cake walk, but its what I do for a living and I love it. (How often do you hear people say that about their job?) I'll send you their names when you reply to this note.

- Response by ugh005, A Father Figure, Male, 56-65, Law Enforcement

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I have worked outside sales for 13 years and have always had a base plus commission, until March of this year. My company who was hurting financially thought up the bright idea to cut our base and just give us a little more commission. Needless to say it is my former company. It was impossible to support myself on 100%. It's just my experience, good luck.

- Response by pearlkey1, Female, 46-55, Artist / Musician / Writer

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I can't speak for the insurance industry but I did some commission-only work selling cell phones and later on selling advertising.

Personally, I found it horrible. It seemed the harder I worked, the less success I had, which I found very peculiar and frustrating.

Then again, I've never been a "sales" kind of guy. I personally don't buy the whole, "A no is just a delayed yes" thing. Most times it actually DOES mean no.

I've known a couple of people that have been very successful but frankly their experience seems pretty rare.

- Response by theseus, A Career Man, Male, 46-55, Financial / Banking

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"Snow turds"?? Please don't take offense, but if you honestly have such a disrespectful attitude towards your prospective customers, it is likely that an undercurrent of your contempt will come across to them when you interact with them. I don't think that's promising as far as making sales goes.

PS I live in Az, too! :)

- Response by justpassingthru, Female, 56-65, Financial / Banking

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