David Skok of Matrix Partners and the team from the Bridge Group are back again this year for their Account Executive report for 2017 — this is now the tenth year of the report where they track how metrics and compensation for this sales based role has shifted over time.
SaaS, and other recurring revenue businesses face growth challenges due to the revenue for their services being fed in over an extended period of time, so this report offers specific analysis and recommendations based on high quality data to help inform the way SaaS companies build out their sales strategy and consider changes to their sales organization to optimize these revenues. Here are some top key takeaways and trends (kept as brief as possible):
TERRITORIES STILL REIGN
Building geographic based territories continues to be the leading approach, especially for earlier stage companies ($0-$20m in annualized revenues). Beyond those revenues, territory based approaches drop off significantly (obvious trend here is keep things simple until you can’t at ScaleUp). Interesting side point is that about 50% of the companies surveyed have sales reps working in different geographic regions. A few factors at play that explain this but mainly it’s the adding of offices via acquisition and highly competitive markets in certain regions for staff.
THE SALES DEVELOPMENT REPS (SDR’s), ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES (AE) and CUSTOMER SUCESS (CSM) COMBO OF ROLES REMAINS STRONG.
The higher the Annual Contract Value (ACV) a company has, the more important these distinct and specialized roles are. For companies under $5m ARR these positions are generally not split out as specialized roles.
66% of the account executives surveyed are supported by SDR teams and this did not seem to vary based on company revenues, but SDR’s add more value (via revenue) at higher ACV’s — see chart below.
SDR’s generate positive returns only on ACVs greater than $4k. For non revenue KPI’s, those AE’s supported by SDR’s see an average of 9.8 meetings per month.
Outbound sales development (via SDR teams) generates roughly 1/4 of the total pipeline of an AE. Keep in mind that outbound prospecting is expensive so companies that have overall lower ACV’s, an outbound sales development channel may be difficult to justify.
50% of companies split new business revenues and renewal revenues into specialized roles for management (AE’s and CSM’s). Only companies with smaller revenues ( less than $5m ARR) keep these roles combined.
Also noteworthy is that companies with month-to-month or seminary annualized contract terms are less likely to split out these roles.
With companies that do split out roles, account are transferred from AE’s to CSM’s after an average of 3.6 months from close.
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE TENURE and ATTRITION
Average rep tenure sits at 2.4 years, (with an average prior experience of 2.6 years) but there seems to be a strong correlation to increased tenure and increased ACV.
Average AE turnover sits at 30% (this is both voluntary and involuntary attrition).
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION & QUOTA
Average on target earnings (OTE) now sits at $126K with average base salaries at $62K. Mix is generally in the 40% to 60% range of base to OTE.
Average annual quota was found to be $770K in ACV and on average, quota was found to be 5.3X OTE — which remains stable across ACV and company annualized revenues.
AE’s are expected to ramp up at about the 4.5 month mark (which is up 20% from 2015)
67% of AE’s achieve quota — this metric has remained pretty consistent over many years. 2/3 of reps meeting quota is a good metric to gauge. There is much more data on quota, OTE and commission within the report, I suggest taking a deeper dive on compensation as it is varied based on ACV and plan type.
MARKETING, MARKETING, MARKETING
On average, 36% of an AE group’s pipeline is sourced by marketing.This includes inbound SDR support, but excludes outbound sales development efforts. The earlier stage the company is though, the more dependent they are on marketing as a source of revenue