Don't Undersell Yourself: Claim Your Hard-Earned Commission

By Lindsey Novak

November 29, 2018 5 min read

Q: I've been a top sales representative in every job I've had, and I have worked in fields were the commissions are large. I researched a company and saw it would be a prime client if I could get in. I first had to obtain permission to call on the particular company, which was approved. I prepared extensively, learning about the company's needs, the decision makers, its history, etc. I am not a lazy sales rep who pops in and asks for the person in charge without preparation and knowing who it is.

I got along famously with the decision-maker, and I was given a $1 million contract to begin with. My homework paid off. I was excited, wrote up my report and contacted my boss. What happened next was appalling. My boss looked in a file unknown to me and said another rep claimed to have called on that client. The rep had not written one note in the file, and it had been a long time ago.

I called the client and asked if she had met with this sales rep, and she had no recall of his name, his company or ever meeting with him. My boss also asked him why there were no notes in the file as to the meeting. The rep is truly a lazy person who has no successes on his record. I told my boss of all the work I had done preparing for the call and how I came to land the sale. My boss then made the most ridiculous, unreasonable and unprofessional decision: He said I had to give the sale to this rep, whom the client had no recall of whatsoever, and the rep himself said he could not remember. It is most likely the rep listed the client's name in the file under his name, claiming that the client was his with no information because he never called on anyone at the company, but I was told to hand the work over to him. This is the most unprofessional and illogical business decision I have ever experienced from any boss. I don't want to fight him or go over his head and get him fired, but I deserve the commission from my sale. What should I do?

A: You just made a $1 million sale because of your elaborate planning and work, and you are concerned about causing your boss to get fired. Your top priority is to discuss assertiveness training with a psychologist so you learn how to intelligently and assertively (not aggressively) protect your interests in business. Your boss' decision defies logic, leadership ability and justice. His job is to thoroughly investigate how and why the other sales rep's name appeared in the file under that client. He also seems to have ignored that he didn't see the name prior to all your research and hard work involved in making the sale. You also should ask yourself why your boss did not challenge the other sales rep.

Focus on the facts. You obtained advance approval to pursue the potential client. When your boss heard about your success in obtaining a $1 million contract, he rechecked the file and found a name. This sounds fishy. His next move, which he did not do, should have been to conduct an extensive interview with the other rep to ascertain why this rep made no notes on the phone calls and the sales call. The sales rep's explanation of not remembering anything — the sales call, the person he called on, the hard facts behind the call and not making detailed notes in the file — is reason enough for your boss to delete his name from the file. And the client does not remember him. Something here stinks, and it's coming from management.

Going over your boss's head to his boss is generally not acceptable, but his poor decision requires it. You no doubt have every note you made on this client — research notes, dates of calls and contacts, phone call and meeting notes, status notes and more. Use the evidence to present your case to upper management. You owe it to yourself, to your client and to other sales reps who may in the future experience the same incompetency or dishonesty from this boss if he is allowed to remain in his position.

Email your workplace issues and experiences to [email protected] For more information about career and life coach Lindsey Novak, visit, and for past columns, see

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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