How to structure commission for non-sales employees?
August 13, 2008 11:22 AM   Subscribe

What is a fair commission structure for non-sales people who bring in recurring work to a business when it's not covered by their initial employment contract?

For various reasons, I may be bringing in a client to the design firm where I am currently working. The project(s) this client will have are too big and too demanding for one person to undertake solo. Work may begin with one item (a large website) and proliferate into other projects down the road (print, branding, etc.). Before I get the potential client to a "yes" I want to have clearly defined contract with my employer as to how commission will be handled now and into the future.

Understanding that "fair" is the most I can squeeze out of the arrangement, what is a good standard to proceed from? Should I ask for a percentage of every project that comes through the door? Should the percentage of the first project be large and subsequent projects be more diminished? Any ideas on what that percentage should be? I assume something should be added that would extend the commission beyond my employment status were I to leave the business?
posted by quadog to Work & Money (6 answers total)
In places that I've worked, non-sales staff that brings in work is just a professional courtesy. Otherwise, non-sales people are going to be distracted from what they're hired to do in order to make sales. I wouldn't expect much, maybe a bonus at the end of the year. But, your field is entirely different than mine, so maybe it'll be different.
posted by hwyengr at 11:33 AM on August 13, 2008

The only experiences I've ever had with introduction bonuses like this was a percentage of the intial fee/1st year's fee. Of course practices may well vary in different industries but after all the initial project's success or otherwise will depend on the performance of the organisation as a whole and any further work will be based on this initial experience and not your introduction - unless it is your job to sell to existing customers I'd be surprised if you get anything for later projects unless your job involves actively generating these subsequent sales.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:37 AM on August 13, 2008

I've sold for several web firms (and print firms way back in the day) and I don't remember any employer having an explicit commission policy for non-sales employees. That doesn't mean it wasn't going on. However, since I assume your job security is at least tangentially related to the success of the firm, I could see management taking offense to the idea that you expect to get paid extra for referring a client in.

If you are a contractor there it's a whole different issue and you absolutely should expect to be paid for referrals. In either case, there is no way in hell you'll get paid after you leave the organization. If you can negotiate that into a contract you probably should be in sales full time :)
posted by COD at 1:50 PM on August 13, 2008

Full-time non-sales professionals should not expect a commission. If work comes in because of your work-related actions, it is a by-product of the job you are already being paid for.
posted by hworth at 2:08 PM on August 13, 2008


Also, if it's true that management won't give a commission to a non-sales employee, you could have a sales employee close the deal and share the commission.
posted by PatoPata at 2:50 PM on August 13, 2008

If you are a contractor there it's a whole different issue and you absolutely should expect to be paid for referrals.

Forgot to mention, that is exactly the case. Which makes the situation a little more unique. Thanks for the answers so far!
posted by quadog at 4:17 PM on August 13, 2008

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