7 SaaS Sales Benchmarks for Leaders and AEs in B2B

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A sound way to evaluate how you or your sales organisation is doing relative to the industry is benchmarking. A U.S.-based sales consulting company, called The Bridge Group publishes a range of reports with benchmarks that are well respected by the sales community and among VCs evaluating SaaS companies for investment.

We recently reviewed one such report that “focused on account executives (AE) at SaaS companies.” It’s based on survey responses from 253 SaaS companies received in late 2021 and early 2022. Below are a few of the sales benchmarks that we think will be of interest to our community.  

1. SaaS companies use a mix of three distinct sales roles

Most SaaS companies (59%) “support the customer lifecycle with at least three distinct sales roles.” The mix can vary from SDRs and AEs – to customer success managers (CSMs) and account managers (AMs). When just looking at respondents from companies with $5 million or more in revenue, “that number rises to 67%.”

This makes sense because sales departments mature as a company grows. As such, they start to parse out responsibilities for new sales, renewals and expansion. 

For example, the study found that CSMs (38%) are tagged with renewal most often. This is followed by AMs (24%) and AEs (17%). Similarly, with upselling, AMs (30%) are usually most responsible, followed by AEs (27%) and CSMs (16%). 

2. SaaS companies employ five or more sales tech tools 

Customer relationship management (CRM) aside, 60% of sales teams use a median of five or more sales technologies. That number is up substantially from the same survey the previous year. One in five use six technologies and 16% report using seven or more. 

Among the tools named in the report include those for sales forecasting, chatbots, learning platforms, calendaring tools, and call recording and conversation analytics, which we refer to as conversation intelligence.

3. SaaS companies are hiring a mix of office, remote and hybrid roles

As the pandemic slows, there is tension in the business world between requiring employees to come back to the office or permitting remote work into perpetuity. Sales organisations in SaaS are leaning toward hybrid and remote positions. 

When asked about hiring plans for “for current (or near term) open positions” here’s how the answers tallied up:

  • 47% said a mix of local office and remote;
  • 37% said fully remote;
  • 9% said remote now but will be in the office in the future;
  • 5% said local office; and
  • 2% said they were unsure.

If you are building out a remote team, be sure to check out our tips for sales onboarding in a remote world

4. The rate at which AEs in SaaS quit jobs jumped more than 40%

This statistic is jarring from a sales leadership perspective: “Average ramp times sits at 5.3 months. This is a significant increase over 2020’s result of 4.3 months.” 

The attrition among AEs rate has grown higher too. Excluding promotions or transfers, the median attrition rate is 32%. This is split between “involuntary turnover” (12%) and “voluntary turnover” (20%). It’s the voluntary turnover that is most troubling – the number of AEs that are quitting jobs grew more than 40% compared to the year prior.

Accordingly, the average tenure of AEs is shrinking. “After remaining virtually unchanged since 2010, average tenure fell to 2.2 years,” according to the report. 

“Call it The Great Resignation, Post-Pandemic Poaching, or general Covid Fallout, but average tenure notched down rather significantly.”

If there are benchmarks that make the case for streamlining new sales onboarding, improving sales coaching and otherwise supporting the sales team – these are it.  

5. The average ACV quote for a SaaS AE grows steadily

The median ACV quota is $740,000 per AE. The report says the size of these quotas has grown consistently at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2% over the last 10 years. 

“On average, 66% of reps in a given group achieve quota,” says the report. “There has been remarkable consistency around this metric over the years.” 

6. Sales compensation for AEs in SaaS outpaces quotas

The median base salary for AEs is $90,000 (in the U.S.) with an opportunity to earn a median of $77,000 in commission. This puts the median “on-target earnings” at $167,000.

The survey found:

  • 96% of OTEs are more than $100,000; 
  • 84% of OTEs are more than $120,000;
  • 56% of OTEs are more than $140,000; and
  • 29% of OTEs are more than $200,000.

There are of course caveats to these numbers. The report points out two: 

  • Median means half of SaaS companies pay above the median and half pay below it; and 
  • The median compensation varies widely across local markets.

Even so, the long-term trend suggests the overall national median compensation has outpaced quotas. Over the last decade or so, “quotas have increased at roughly 2% annually, OTEs have risen at more than 5% CAGR over that same period.”

7. SaaS sales leadership and reporting structure

Sales leaders manage a median of 7 AEs, a number that’s been consistent since 2015, the report says. There is some variation based on the size of the organisation by revenue. For instance, sales leaders have more direct AE reports in larger organisations. 

More specifically, the survey found in organisations with less than $5 million in revenue, leaders tend to have 4.6 AEs in their line of reporting. That number grows to 6.4 in organisations with between $20 million and $50 million in sales – and 7.2 in organisations with $100 million or more in annual sales. 

* * *

The full report – SaaS AE Report: Models, Metrics, and Compensation Research – has more benchmarks, detail and recommendations from The Bridge Group.  

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