Many of us want to start a business but do not have the money to start. There is also a lot to learn in business and you might not be ready to start your own company. A great way to start your own business and learn at the same time is a commission-only sales job.
Many companies will give you a job and pay you commission for sales you bring in. They might not give you a basic salary but you can start selling, making money, and learning without the need to spend any money.
What to watch out for
Commission-only sales can be a great opportunity but there are a few pitfalls to watch out for. Unfortunately, some companies take advantage of job seekers and you want to avoid certain situations.
- Very high targets
Some companies will set targets that are almost impossible to reach. You could work hard and do a good job and still not make money. Do your research first to see if the company has a good reputation.
- Transport costs
Paying your own transport costs for sales can be expensive. It is no good earning commission if it comes to less than your transport costs. Look at this carefully.
If you sell on credit or monthly payments, like a financial product, the company will normally take back commission if the client you sold to stops paying. This can work out expensive for you. Some months the claw-backs could be more than your commission.
- Recruitment reliant
Many of the multi-level marketing companies (we will explain them in a bit) only work if you recruit a large number of people and they all recruit many people. These can be difficult to make money from.
- High opening stock costs
Some of the companies expect you to buy a large amount of stock when you join. Be very careful with these companies and only do this if you have the money and you are sure you can use or sell the items.
Types of commission-only jobs
- Direct sales
Here you work directly for a company, sell goods for them, and earn a commission. In some cases, they might expect you to work full-time but there is often more support, training, and room for growth.
Agents have a lot more freedom than most commission-only sales jobs. You find someone that makes or offers a product or service and you offer to sell for them on a commission-only basis. There is no risk to the seller so if you promote yourself well they should go for it. Many businesses do not have time to market their business and look for agents to help.
Once you have made a success on an agency you can look for other agency opportunities. By now, you should have a customer base so a good idea is to look for related products that you can sell to the same people. This will save you on time and travel costs while also giving you a market that already knows you.
- Multi-level marketing (network marketing)
This is a popular structure for commission selling. How it works is that you join a team in a company and you earn commission on your sales. You then recruit people to work under you and you get a (smaller) commission on their sales. They can also recruit people down the line. Some work on multiple levels.
While there have been some companies that have given this business a bad name, it can work very well if the company is set up correctly.
Advantages and disadvantage of commission-only sales
- No money needed to start
- The opportunity to earn while you learn
- Coaching and training at some companies
- Practice the art of selling
- An opportunity to work for some great companies
- Meet other people in businesses
- Buildup a client base
- It will give you experience to show when applying for a job
- No basic salary
- Transport costs probably not covered
- Some companies try to take advantage
- No paid leave or sick leave
- No unemployment protection
- Sometimes a small amount of stock needs to be bought when you start
Commission-Only Sales Opportunities
There are many options available and new ones that pop up all the time. It is important to keep a lookout for opportunities. Talk to people, read the local newspapers, look on the internet, and look on social media like Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter.
Here are some opportunities. They might not all be available in your area.
- Selling or Renting Property
This is a commission-only opportunity that can be a career. Many people make a good living selling or renting property. Most of these jobs are commission only. You normally need to have your own car but there are opportunities even if you do not have your own transport.
Look around at local estate agencies or letting agents. Do some homework online and learn about the company. Look at who they are, what area they cover, who the important people are and a bit about their history. Study the properties they have available so you understand the market.
Approach the company either directly or try to set up a meeting over the telephone or email.
- Cellphones, cellphone accessories, air time
Cellphones are big business and there are many large and smaller companies that take on agents to sell their products. You can sell to friends, family, and neighbors while building the business up.
You need to sell quite a lot of airtime to make money from that part but if you work hard, this is a good way to make start your own business with no money. There is lots of demand and people will always need airtime, accessories, and even cellphones.
- Cooking pots, cooking equipment, kitchen items
There are quite a few companies that offer commission-only sales jobs selling pots and pans, plates, knives and forks, and other kitchen or eating equipment. The products range from very expensive to more affordable. Look at the people you want to sell to and decide on the most suitable company to work with.
AMC Cookware is a good example. It is expensive but top-quality. Tupperware has been going for more than 70 years and their top consultants make a lot of money.
- Insurance, medical products, financial products, and funeral plans
This is another exciting commission-only opportunity in most areas. There is a lot of demand for funeral plans. For those that can afford them, savings plans, medical aid or a hospital plan, life and disability insurance, and other products are a good idea.
This might take some time and effort to learn. You might even have to pay a bit to learn some of the skills. If you do well with this, it can make a lot of money.
One thing to take note of is that most companies will claw-back your commission if the person you sold to stops paying for the product. Always try to put some commission aside in case of claw-backs.
- Linen and clothing
There are a few companies that sell linen, duvet covers, blankets, and even clothing on a commission-only basis.
- Health products
Companies sell vitamins, diet supplements, and health-related products on a commission-only basis. People want to be fit and healthy these days and spend a lot of money on health products.
Herbalife is one of the best-known examples.
- Cleaning products
Everyone needs to buy cleaning supplies and household products every month. There are a number of direct marketing companies that will allow you to buy for yourself at a discount, sell to other people around you, and often recruit people below you to do the same.
There is a constant demand for these essential items and provided you work hard it is a good way to make money with commission-only sales.
Who does not love jewelry? People love to spend spare cash on jewelry and watches for themselves or as gifts. If this excites you, there are quite a few direct marketing companies that you can work with to make a success of this business.
- Makeup and skincare
Famous companies like Avon are a good opportunity to sell makeup and skincare products. They also sell perfumes and many other products. This is a very big market and if you work hard it can be a good opportunity.
- Solar Home Systems
In Namibia and Botswana you can sell d.light solar home systems for Olusheno or DayBright, two companies known for high quality affordable solar home systems which are easy to buy for even the very poor customers. The systems pay for themselves and are much safer than Candles or Paraffin, so customers really want them. Being an Olusheno sales agent is also easy and there is no upfront cost at all. Simply speak to the teams at www.olusheno.com or www.daybright.africa.
These are just a few of the opportunities. You need to look around for the one that you will enjoy and that will interest your market.
In order to succeed, you need to be motivated and have self-discipline. Commission-only selling is hard work and takes time. There are no shortcuts. If you work in a network or multi-level marketing environment, you have to sell while growing your team and helping them to do well.
On the upside, you generally have a lot more freedom and can flexible working hours. You will learn good skills, gain experience, and hopefully make some money. It is always important to look at these opportunities as your own business.
Select the company or products you want to sell wisely. Look at their history and popularity, look at the prices and see if there is demand in your area. Once you have made your decision you need to work hard. Many people do not earn money quickly so give up before they have really had a chance to do well.