ATS Transportation Blog

    The Pros and Cons of a Commission-Incentivized Sales Career In Transportation

    transportation-sales-representative-at-desk

    For individuals thinking about a career in sales, the heightened earning potential that accompanies these roles is usually what draws them in. 

    That said, though many commission-incentivized sales positions — particularly in the transportation world —  open a lot of doors for the individuals occupying them, earning money in this way also comes with a few downsides. Downsides that you should note. 

    Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we currently employ more than one hundred sales representatives each of which earns a salary + monthly incentive, based on a percentage of the margin and new business they generate. 

    Over the years, we’ve seen countless employees in these roles meet their goals both personally and professionally. Often, the success of these salespeople is tied to the commissions they earn while selling logistics solutions. 

    With this in mind, it’s understandable if taking a job in sales leaves you feeling wary and skeptical of whether it would fit you

    In the interest of giving you all of the information you’ll need to make this decision, this article will outline the pros and cons that accompany a salary + commission-incentivized sales position in the transportation world. 

    Below we’ll cover:

    Following its completion, this article will leave you far better acquainted with what a sales job would truly look like for you and give you some tactics for avoiding the challenges you’ll face should you decide to take one on. 

    Let’s jump in.

    The Top Four Advantages of a Commission-Incentivized Sales Job In Transportation Are:

    1. Higher than average earning potential.
    2. Earning commission necessitates relationship development.
    3. Quality of life improves to match success. 
    4. Productivity and goal achievement increase in these salespeople.

    1. Higher Than Average Earning Potential

    Simply put, every business, regardless of size, scope, industry, whether it has a catalog of products or offers a service, needs competent salespeople to survive. 

    Without the sales professionals responsible for promoting offerings and getting them into the hands of end consumers, revenues would diminish and companies would fail — closing up shop at the expense of lost jobs and failed partnerships. 

    So. . . yeah, being a sales professional is important and many of the best salespeople are well paid for their efforts. 

    If you’re searching for a career that, given a bit of hard work and perseverance, can generate you high levels of month-over-month income, look no further than a sales role. 

    The transportation industry, in particular, offers bountiful opportunities for sales representatives to match their pay to the efforts they exert. And, as each salesperson expands their book of business — generating more revenue for their company (be it a freight brokerage, an asset company or other) — progressively increasing the commission dollars they receive only gets easier over time. 

    Is sales a challenging career with plenty of obstacles for sales professionals to overcome? Yes, but with enough hard work and a commitment to learning how to sell, you’d be hard-pressed to find another job with the earning potential these positions offer

    2. Earning a Commission Necessitates Relationship Development

    As a sales professional, you will rarely feel like you’re on an island. For any person, doing this job well takes an ability to operate as a member of a team, soaking up information from others and working with customers to comprehensively meet their needs. 

    Commission-incentivized sales roles make developing relationships with internal and external stakeholders even more important. And, should you decide sales is right for you, you’ll enjoy meeting and maintaining relationships with people from all walks of life.  Many of the relationships sales professionals develop — both with colleagues and customers — stand the test of time, flourishing into long-term mutually-beneficial friendships. 

    four-logistics-sales-reps-strategizing

    If you’re looking for a job that pays you to communicate, learn from and build connections with, interesting people each and every day, look no further than a sales role in transportation. 

    3. Quality of Life Can Improve With Success

    The improved earning potential that commission incentives give sales professionals offers advantages that trickle into other aspects of their lives. Most specifically, successful salespeople have an easier time making ends meet and controlling their time than individuals in other lines of work. 

    For great salesmen and women, investing in the things that make life meaningful outside of the office is easier with consistently-earned commission checks. And, as their book of business and competencies serving customers grows, many salespeople find their quality of life rise to meet their heightened income. 

    Setting a financial goal and working hard to meet it is what every laborer strives to accomplish, salespeople in the transportation industry have the added benefit of directly influencing the dollars they receive each pay period.

    As such, hard-working logistics professionals find it easier to meet each financial goal they set for themselves.

    Sure, selling logistics solutions can be difficult in the beginning but with a bit of fine-tuning and dedication, you’ll like what earning a salary + commission can do for you both personally and professionally. 

    4. Productivity and Goal Achievement Rise in Commission-Incentivized Roles

    Receiving a piece of the pie on each transaction is highly motivating for most people in commission-incentivized roles. As such, the daily productivity of these individuals can often outpace that of people in non-commissioned positions

    For you, a job selling transportation solutions can come with a high level of achievement and, in turn, job satisfaction in the long run. Human beings like to be productive; to feel a sense of ownership, pride and accomplishment every day. 

    Transportation industry sales jobs give employees this in spades. 

    sales-team-meeting

    If you decide a commissioned job in the transportation world is for you — and have the wherewithal to put in the necessary work — the sense of personal and professional attainment you’ll feel won’t be matched by most other careers paths

    The Top 4 Disadvantages of a Commission-Incentivized Sales Career In Transportation Are:

    1. Controlling performance-based income can be challenging. 
    2. Predicting monthly take-home pay can be difficult.
    3. Job satisfaction may falter in tough times.
    4. Work-life balance can be difficult to maintain.

    1. Controlling Performance-Based Income Can Be Challenging

    Getting a sale isn’t always easy, and in the transportation world — where a salesperson’s primary job is to sell services that most businesses see solely as an expense — dry stints aren’t uncommon

    While experienced salespeople plan for these downturns and learn to take them in stride, newer sales reps can sometimes have more of an issue. Although the highs are high in the business of selling transportation solutions, lows also happen. 

    Sometimes no matter how hard a salesperson works, tough times crop up — disrupting a sale-reps psyche and ability to make as much money as they’d like. 

    2. Predicting Monthly Take-Home Pay Can Be Difficult

    logistics-sales-professional-calculating-margin

    Budgeting is a huge part of getting ahead in life. To do so, however, means people must be able to count on how much they’ll bring home each pay period. Knowing these numbers helps people budget out their expenses appropriately. 

    Commissioned-incentivized sales roles can make this difficult.

    Since sales professionals don’t have a concrete knowledge of what they’ll make each week — over and above their set salary — they’re usually forced to revert to guesswork where this is concerned. As you can imagine, this can be especially stressful when things aren’t going their way. 

    Although this issue is less glaring in transportation industry sales positions that earn a base salary — as is the case with ATS Logistics sales representatives — if you’re interested in starting a sales career, this income instability is certainly worth noting.  

    3. Job Satisfaction May Falter In Tough Times

    Everyone wants to enjoy their job and, for the most part, sales professionals do. That said, when things aren’t going well; when a salesperson has made a bunch of calls and sent countless emails to prospects without securing their business, job satisfaction can be hard to come by.

    Usually, a position selling transportation solutions is incredibly rewarding for salespeople as they make an impact on national supply chains and world businesses. But this isn’t always the case — especially when the commission dollars aren’t as high as they’d like. 

    You see, a lot of sales representatives tie the satisfaction they get to the dollars they generate. And why wouldn’t they? When managed correctly, and with a bit of luck in their corner, these workers can muster the huge commission checks that make all of their hard work worth it. 

    But this doesn’t happen all the time. Sometimes salespeople, no matter the industry, go long stints without making massive sales. In turn, these individuals often get less satisfaction — which they’ve tied to their income earnings — from their day-to-day duties. 

    logistics-sales-manager-coaching-sales-representative

    Tough times don’t need to get you down though. The best companies understand how difficult these sales positions are and how much care goes into each and every transaction. As a result, good transportation companies continually work with their sales representatives to help them through these times and help them improve. 

    One of the best things you can do to maintain your job satisfaction, even through down periods, is to manage your expectations. Taking pride in the impact your job makes on the world around you, without transportation services everything would come to a screeching halt. 

    Always remember: There’s far more to be proud of in a logistics sales role than the amount of extra commission you make each day. 

    4. Work-Life Balance Can Be Difficult to Manage

    As people progress into their transportation industry sales careers, the number of stakeholders counting on them for service, feedback, expertise and solutions quickly expands. 

    Although this is great for these sales professionals’ continued success and take-home commissions, it can also be difficult to balance everything. 

    This is especially true with so much money to be made and when eeking out an extra hour of work could mean more dollars in your pocket. 

    If you’ve ever worked in a business, in any capacity, you know that the customer always comes first. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to selling transportation services. 

    For logistics sales professionals, meeting customer needs directly equates to increased revenues. As such, sometimes, commission-incentivized sales roles come with work-life balance issues as salespeople try to maintain customer relationships well past regular business hours in the hopes of retaining their business

    Maybe a recovery option is needed on a particular load or their originally arranged transportation solution fell through for one reason or another. No matter what it is, earning a commission selling logistics solutions often leads salespeople to work well more than 40 hours a week. 

    As such, should you decide that a sales job in the transportation world is for you, make sure to set boundaries not only for customers but for yourself as well. 

    Let’s Overcome These Challenges Together

    Now that you understand the four most common pros and cons of working in a commission-incentivized sales career selling transportation solutions, you have a decision to make: Is this a career path you’re interested in pursuing? 

    With the right mindset, logistics sales positions offer people financial security and personal fulfillment for the long haul. 

    That said, there will be some hurdles to overcome along the way — particularly in the beginning. 

    Here at ATS, we’re interested in helping you get the most from a career in the transportation world, even if we’re not the company you choose to join. As such, we invite you to check out this article on The 8 Largest Logistics Sales Career Challenges [+ How To Overcome Them] which was written to give you some insight into the common issues you’ll face in a logistics sales role and leave you with the tools necessary for overcoming them. 

    Tags: Sales Careers

    Charles Kuykendall

    Written by Charles Kuykendall

    For four years —from October 2014 to March 2018 — Charles' made his mark on the ATS Logistics family as a national sales representative, set on helping his customers thrive. Since his transition to Sales Team Manager in 2018, however, Charles's impact has only grown. Today, Charles proudly leads a team of budding young sales representatives in our Greensville, SC office. Finding success isn't always easy in the fast-past transportation world but Charles is masterful in helping his sales reps, and his customers, do just that.

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