Call Andy Duke cheap. If his salespeople wine and dine potential customers, the salespeople, not he, pick up the tab. And they pay for gas and car phones. Duke is co-owner of Metrographics, a $3-million printing-services company in Fairfield, N.J. He developed his penny-pinching ways when he quit NCR and started Metrographics with just $300. That was eight years ago, but the no-expenses-paid policy endures.
Still, his four salespeople aren't grumbling. They keep 50% of the gross profit on every sale, and there's no ceiling on commissions. They, not Duke, select their territories and accounts. "We wanted them to immediately think smart, as if they owned the business," says Duke. Once a salesperson surpasses $100,000 in commissions, his or her payout jumps to 60% of the margin on each sale.
"The salesperson wins and the company wins," says Denise Koper. She left a good customer-service job in Boston to join Metrographics' sales team. "When we find the right people, there's no reason for them to go anywhere else," claims Duke. The system has its limitations, however. Says Duke: "I can't attract a heavy-hitter salesperson who needs the security of $50,000 up front."