ncentive compensation is the fuel that drives sales behavior and business success. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) sales compensation arrangements necessitate thorough preparation and study to ensure that all working components run well. As fresh plans are handed out in a new year, it can be tempting for leadership to jump right in.

SaaS/subscription income organizations need to find a way to make sure they keep clients. Sales compensation is a more complicated problem for SaaS companies, as the sales job does not end when a new client signs a contract. In this blog post, we'll talk about how to create sales incentive programs that encourage the proper actions.

We have had enough requests for help on sales compensation that we thought it worthwhile to put together an in-depth discussion and "how-to" guide.

SaaS Sales Challenge

Each organization can determine the suitable compensation package for each sales position upfront using a verified target-setting approach and a variety of other criteria. Companies should determine how to structure basic and variable salaries, and then detail the job requirements and compensation terms in a revenue incentive plan.

The Sales Compensation Plan Development Process

Whether you're creating a new sales compensation plan or re-building an old one, you should follow the procedures below:

1. Keeping it easy

The worst thing you can do is create a compensation plan that is so complex that your members don't understand their payments right away. Because of all the variables in SaaS, it's easy to start incorporating all types of variables and levels into the strategy. Make sure your company's compensation plan is simple to follow when you're creating it.

One of the better possibilities is a 50-50 split, in which 50% of rep income is a base salary and 50% is a fee. This is ideal since members are motivated to earn the additional 50% while still having a nice base salary. The 50-50 split is a smart approach for reps to boost their commissions and be motivated to close transactions in order to boost recurrent profits. Reps will understand exactly how the 50 arrangement will increase their commission and will be more willing to close business as a result. They can also include a list of the incentives you want them to focus on, such as increasing sales.

You want your ace rep to serve as a role model for every other rep on your team, encouraging healthy competition and demonstrating what's possible. With the correct SaaS compensation package, your profits will skyrocket. Make sure your team's top representative is always appropriately compensated; you don't want them to feel underpaid or unappreciated.

2. Set your compensation using the Rule of Four.

You should avoid going below 4 for this calculation for most SAAS accounting to operate and to ensure a reasonably respectable level of sales efficiency. The target earnings are specified as base salary plus variable compensation where the target is set at million. Companies that make more than $ in OTE per annuities should have a ratio closer to 6 for highly efficient companies, especially for their lower-end market segments (with a high degree of inbound demand) For eg, to make the math work, an OTE rep who makes $150 K OTE would need to make $600 K for a rep who made $150K OTE ($100 K base, $50 K variable). This multiple of 4-6 also aids in determining whether you are paying too much for results or not enough.

3. Ensure Sympatico is your Quota Periods & Sales Cycle Lengths.

Everyone understands how an annual plan works, and you have a single quota number to meet each year. When I see organizations get too clever, especially in their early phases, it's when they try to assign monthly or quarterly quotas to their sales teams without having the right business dynamics in place to support it. Monthly plans, in my viewpoint, only make sense when your company is relatively transactional and your sales cycles are less than 45 days, and quarterly plans only make sense when your sales cycles are less than 90 days. Particularly, guarantee that the sales rep's ability to close at a certain quota period is under his or her control; if the deals' sales timelines are significantly longer than the measurement periods.

Reps who aren't performing well on their monthly or quarterly goals may want to force sales that will close in the next period to optimize their earnings. If a salesperson is underperforming, closing a contract before the end of the quarter should allow them to make more money. This is especially true for compensation programs that "don't fill the bucket" and pay out all of the money at the same time.

4. Department of Partner, Revenue, and Compensation

Workers in the payment process are most likely to be unhappy according to a new survey. If you want to find out where your workers are most unhappy start by talking to your acting comp administrators and reps. It's easy to overlook the fact that sales and finance are on the same team. Sure, there are irate sales calls to compensation managers. There's also the issue of unresponsive financial emails. However, bridging the gap across departments is a lot easier than you might think.

Only one aspect of the partner sales and financing commission process may be focused on: visibility. Reps and management need to be able to see real-time performance and sales quotas. Xactly IncentTM offers reps dashboards outlining their priorities and progress in easy-to-digest graphs and charts to achieve this degree of accountability. Customers have recorded some notable transformations with this visibility in place such as the creation of a new customer service model that allows them to focus on what they can do to improve their performance.

1. Unnecessary emails and phone calls vanish between sales and finance.
2. "Shadow accounting" is minimized by sales reps using precious time to maintain their records.
3. The benefits department sees how their job has a positive effect on the bottom line.
4. Sales and Finance (really!) become friends.

5. Weed Out Mediocre Artists and High Performers Award

Finding the soft spot for compensation in the past was more of an estimate, based on a combination of precedent and intuition, than science and providing you with hard data to help you make decisions. These indicators will allow you to confidently determine which reps are achieving on-target earnings (OTE) and whether you are overpaying for poor performance, even if OTE is precisely in line with your compensation model. Xactly Insights uses analytical and cross-company data to create monthly benchmarks that eliminate the guesswork.

6. The value of gross margins

Keeping things simple in the early days of a SaaS start-up by focusing only on bookings and neglecting gross margin can help keep things simple, but as the firm scales up, the impact of good gross margins will become extremely significant. The cost of products sold in a SaaS sector includes the cost of running the program and providing onboarding and assistance. Sales do not control this in some firms, so it's not worth complicating their salaries by factoring in gross margin. You may consider paying lower commissions on low-margin goods such as professional services or simply paying gross-margin dollar commissions instead of overall bookings. But revenues will impact gross margins in other businesses, such as selling to clients who may not need a lot of help and selling fewer professional services.

7. Bookings on Expansion

Upselling and cross-selling are other good ways to encourage bookings for expansion. According to our SaaS survey, expansion revenue is five times less expensive than new revenue, thus you'll pay a reduced commission rate for it. However, this varies widely from company to company, so it's critical to assess your circumstances and establish commissions appropriately. You might want to distinguish between cross-selling and upselling. It will be determined by the substance of what you're offering and the most effective method for marketing it.

8. Honor the best performers.

When a sales rep exceeds his or her quota, the organization earns money. Base salaries would stay the same, but all new sales exceeding quota and other top achievers would earn a substantially larger return. Accelerators or graduated commissions are a good way to do this, and if the rep reaches the maximum, the commission rate rises. A multi-tiered strategy is also an option.

9. As the business grows, the sales comp will change.

If you want to start a business, it's important to be aware of all the variables when working out who you are selling to and how much money you will make. Don't worry too much about the variable aspect when you are still working out your business plan. When starting a new business, always make sure that you have checks and balances incorporated into the incentive package to reduce the risk of moving to something new too fast. Always be aware of the fact that your company may not be able to support its growth for more than one or two years at a time. Don't be afraid to ask for help if things go wrong in the early stages of a new venture.

10.   Assess Foundation vs. Variable 

A plan with a high variable and low base salary is often referred to as a "leverage" plan. The purpose behind the variable is to create a culture where your sales team is financially responsible for its outcomes.

A highly leveraged strategy would mean that you just pay for results, but a lot of problems can be generated by this. Senior salespeople may not be interested in these positions because they are penalized by the banking system when they apply for a mortgage, car loan, or some other credit request. If there is no flexibility in the incentive package, the salespeople can be less motivated to achieve defined targets. In transactional transactions, where the volume is extremely high and prices are low, highly levered plans are seen most commonly targets.

11. Make a sales employee stronger with a training schedule

Are you just dependent on your salespeople, or do you want to know more about their expertise? Are you looking for a strategy that both the organization and its closers would benefit from? Here are some strategies, guidelines, and concepts that you would like to hear from your sales team. Your sales manager should be responsible for designing a strategy for both the company and its prospects.

Enhancing Recap Your SaaS Comp Strategy

There are countless ways to get into the SaaS compensation package and boost it, but just a few forms are guaranteed to push measurable results. What you incentivize, you'll get. It will be a burden on you and your team if your comp scheme is difficult to grasp or unnecessarily complicated. Remember that creating a compensation strategy that motivates and retains your team and rewards achievement is your number one mission.


A SaaS company needs to concentrate on selling to clients who will be around for the long term and have the potential to extend their contracts over time. Sales compensation is a bit more difficult because when designing the contract, there are more business targets to remember. We suggest beginning by writing down your primary business goals and then finding out which of these are the most important.

You would be well placed to recruit the best reps and generate better results from them if your strategy is aligned with your priorities and your sales staff knows what they need to do to receive a great commission. The journey may not be easy, but hopefully, it will be the result. For our lovely readers, we would also like to check these other articles that might be a handful for your business. Best Practices In SaaS Marketing 2021, SaaS Fundraising In The Post-Covid World, and The 21 Startups To Focus In Middle East And North Africa. We are here to offer more SaaS related articles and we hope you have gain a thorough understanding about our article for today!

Apr 30, 2021

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