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What is A Draw Against Commission for Sales Reps?

Aug 09, 2022
2 min read
In sales, a draw against commission (also known as a pay draw) is guaranteed pay a sales rep receives with every paycheck. Learn how you can use a draw effectively in your sales incentive compensation plan to motivate reps and drive performance.

Compensation plays a key role in your ability to drive sales behaviors and hit your revenue and growth targets. Depending on your sales force structure and size, there are different sales commission structures that can be used in your incentive plan. One of the most common is a draw against commission, which can be a useful approach to keep your team engaged and motivated to succeed.

What is Draw On Commission?

A draw against commission is a type of incentive compensation that functions as guaranteed pay that sellers receive with every paycheck. The draw amount is typically pre-determined and acts similar to a cash advance for reps.

Draws are typically a short-term incentive and a way to provide your team with income stability. Depending on whether the draw is recoverable or non-recoverable, reps may be required to repay the draw in the next pay period (more on that later). 

When to use a Draw Against Commission

Not all commission draws function the same. For compensation plans as a whole, it's important to tailor plans to fit each sales roles' unique responsibilities. This is also true for draws. The draws should reflect the sales reps' responsibilities and seasonal fluctuations for their territory or any other factors that could impact sales performance.

Generally, companies implement a commission draw for a few different reasons:

  • Consistency: Commission draw systems are often used to provide consistent compensation for newly-hired reps or reps ramping onto new accounts
  • Stability: Pay Draws are also used to maintain stability during uncertain economic times or to help maintain performance as reps ramp up to selling a particular product or new territory

Sales ramp up time should equal the average length of your sales cycle plus 90 days. A draw against commission offsets the lack of incentive payments during a sales rep's ramp and onboarding.

During times of economic uncertainty, changing selling conditions, or even disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic, a draw provides income stability to ensure reps are still earning pay when sales are fluctuating for reasons out of their control.

Types of Draw Against Commission

There are two types of draws that you can use in your compensation plans— recoverable and non-recoverable. Both recoverable and non-recoverable draws can be implemented on a more permanent or non permanent basis. Both types of draw against commission will allow for better retention and a lower turnover as more salespeople feel more stability from their position.

Recoverable Draw

A Recoverable Draw is what most people may think of when considering a draw against commission. Recoverable draws (the difference between total pay and commissions earned) allows reps to get paid up front, but the company will recover the draw payments from earned commissions over time. 

When to Use it: Use a recoverable draw to provide newly-hired sales reps with sustainable earnings during their training and sales ramp-up period. As they gain experience, this amount may decrease until they are fully ramped.

Non-Recoverable Draw

Non-recoverable draws operate like a stipend. Reps are paid the guaranteed amount, but they are not required to pay it back at any point in time. These are almost always short-term incentives to help the entire sales team in times of uncertainty.

When to Use it: Use a non-recoverable draw to provide income stability to your entire sales force when selling circumstances change, industry disruptions hit, or other economic events hinder reps’ ability to sell at their normal capacity.

Elevating Your Sales Compensation Strategy

Getting sales compensation right is essential to drive performance and achieve your revenue goals. Using a draw against commission can be a great way to motivate your sellers as they ramp to full productivity and also provide stability when disruptions occur. But it is only one of the many elements you can use in your compensation planning to drive performance.

Learn more ways you can improve your compensation planning and management in our guide “Ultimate Guide to Sales Compensation Planning.”

  • Incentive Compensation
Erik Charles Headshot, Chief Evangelist at Xactly
Erik W. Charles
Chief Evangelist

Erik serves as a subject matter expert on the interlocking fields of revenue intelligence, revenue performance, and revenue optimization. Erik focuses on helping Xactly drive expansion and growth by better aligning positions, responsibilities, and incentives to be in sync with achievable strategic and tactical goals. He is an accomplished professional with more than two decades of experience in marketing, consulting, and product evangelization.