Hiring managers can “occasionally” overstate potential compensation packages with a sales role during the interview process. Before you have even started the job, you begin to envision how well you are going to do, even before evaluating if it is an achievable goal. I have taken it so far as envisioning how my life will be if I made that amount of money! Silly, but these thoughts can happen if you start to get ahead of yourself.
The success may well happen early on, but realistically it will take longer, possibly years to get up to that level of compensation consistently. Everyone develops in a role at different speeds, and many factors can come in to play regarding earning potential.
They are always people who thrive and over achieve quickly, but they are in the minority. A good question for the hiring manager in the interview process is,
“What are the realistic total compensation numbers (on average) in the first three years on the job?”
If you have little savings, or limited ability to pay for expenses now, you need to consider what size of salary you take, compared to potential commissions and bonuses.
I got a hard dose of reality with this type of situation in one of the roles that I accepted.
I was given a ball park idea of how the previous rep had done in the territory the year before, and it was a fantastic number! I started to see lots and lots of dollar signs! It definitely blurred my vision.
I was very confident in my abilities by that point in my career, and felt great about the role. There was a small issue that the hiring manager failed to mention. The previous rep negotiated to keep all the large accounts in the territory when he moved to another region. These accounts contributed greatly to the overall compensation.
Not only did the previous rep negotiate to keep many of the high producing accounts, the pay plan changed 4 months after I started, taking a good chunk out of the earning potential that was so desirable when I started the job. Things can change in a heartbeat, and it is best to underestimate what you will earn for the first couple of years, and decide from there if you are still comfortable taking the role.
This is especially CRITICAL when you need money right away and accept a role with 100% commission or a limited base salary.