Incentivize to Maximize: Designing Sales Compensation Plan to Fuel SaaS Growth


In case no one has told you this before, let me enlighten you: the right sales compensation structure is crucial in the SaaS industry. It’s the difference between a motivated sales team and missed targets.

This is even more pronounced in India with its unique blend of traditional business values and cutting-edge tech innovation.

So, how do SaaS companies in India strike the right balance?

Let me explain this better.

The Evolution of SaaS in India

India’s SaaS journey has been transformative from humble beginnings to a global powerhouse. While in its early days, the Indian SaaS ecosystem was more of a follower, emulating Western models, it has since carved out its unique niche, innovating solutions tailored for diverse industries and audiences.

In 2022, the annual recurring revenue (ARR) of Software as a Service (SaaS) companies in India reached around 13 billion U.S. dollars.


In fact, many SaaS leaders from India, including Zoho, Freshworks, Browserstack, and iCertis, among others, gained significant traction due to virtual selling. India also has a unique trend of building products quite in the beginning of the product life cycle than other countries, which is further fuelled by virtual selling.

In recent years, the India’s SaaS industry has seen significant growth, with many brands offering SaaS and generating significant revenue from global markets.

Why Compensation Matters in SaaS Sales?

At its core, sales is the engine that drives SaaS businesses or for that matter any business. Whether it’s acquiring a new client or upselling to an existing one, the role of a salesperson is pivotal. However, what fuels this engine? Compensation. 

In the high-pressure world of SaaS, where monthly and annual recurring revenues are paramount, a well-designed compensation structure acts as the lubricant, ensuring the engine runs smoothly.

The stakes are even higher in a B2B SaaS context, especially in India. Sales cycles are longer, deal sizes are often larger, and relationships are more intricate.

Therefore, the compensation structure needs to motivate the sales team to close deals and foster long-term relationships with clients. 

Given the diversity and complexity of the Indian market—with its myriad industries, languages, and cultural nuances—a tailored, flexible compensation plan becomes desirable and essential.

Winning Formula: Setting up a compensation and incentive structure for B2B SaaS

The B2B SaaS world operates differently from traditional sales environments. Here, the sales cycles are often longer, with multiple stakeholders involved, and the focus is on building sustainable relationships rather than one-off sales.

Given these factors, here’s how you can set up a compensation structure tailored to B2B SaaS along with a winning formula:

1. Aligning with Business Outcomes

T2D3 emphasizes that a sound B2B SaaS incentive structure should prioritize the right business outcomes and ensure that the compensation aligns perfectly with organizational objectives.

2. Keeping It Straightforward

Breyta’s study underscores the value of simplicity and consistency. A successful SaaS compensation blueprint should be clear, resonate with business ambitions, and utilize industry standards as a yardstick.

3. Customizing for Individual Roles

As per Winning by Design, tailoring compensation plans for distinct sales roles is crucial, considering factors from target-setting models to role-specific responsibilities.

4. The Balance of Security and Drive

Avoma suggests that a good sales compensation model for reps in SaaS should offer a fixed base pay and a variable incentive component to keep them motivated towards their goal.

The base pay gives salespeople a sense of financial security.

5. Diving into Numbers:

According to Jiminny, SaaS AEs in the U.S. earn an average base salary of $90,000 (in the U.S.) and can earn a median of $77,000 in variable pay.

Compensation varies widely across local markets, and median compensation has exceeded quotas.

6. Rewarding Growth

SaaS Partners advocates for recognizing growth. Compensation plans should motivate sales teams to outdo their past performances, blending fixed salaries with performance-driven incentives.

Designing a sa;es compensation and incentive strategy in B2B SaaS is a meticulous process. It is about aligning with their visions, understanding salesperson motivations, and being flexible in the marketplace.

A business can motivate a high-achieving sales force by aligning incentive programs with organizational goals and customizing them to align with performance metrics.

Factors to Consider for B2B SaaS Sales Compensation

Designing a sales compensation plan is not a one-size-fits-all task.

Given the unique challenges and opportunities in B2B SaaS, here are some pivotal factors to consider:

1. B2B SaaS Sales Cycles: Given the extended nature of B2B SaaS sales cycles, a substantial base salary can be a reassuring constant, ensuring sustained motivation and engagement.

2. The Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Rather than spotlighting the initial transaction, emphasize the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). This approach rewards the art of cultivating enduring, profitable client relationships.

#TCCRecommends: Get more insights into CLV

3. Understanding the Market Terrain: Recognize your position in the market. Whether you’re trailblazing a new path or navigating a field with seasoned competitors, tailor your compensation to inspire and challenge your sales team accordingly.

How to Align Sales Incentives with Company Goals in B2B SaaS?

Sales incentives should not just drive revenue; they should resonate with the company’s broader vision.

Here’s how to ensure this alignment:

  1. Clarity on Company Objectives: Every sales team member should understand the company’s short-term and long-term goals.
  2. Incentivize Beyond Sales: Consider bonuses for behaviours that align with company values, such as exceptional customer service or collaboration with product teams.
  3. Feedback Loops: Encourage regular communication between sales teams and management to ensure everyone remains on the same page.

        Best Practices for Implementing a Successful B2B SaaS Sales Compensation Plan

        Now that you’ve designed your compensation structure, it’s time to roll it out. But how do you ensure its success?

        Here are some tried-and-tested best practices:

        1. Vision First: Clearly outline what you aim to achieve. This clarity shapes the entire compensation strategy.

        2. Know Your Team: Understand what drives your salespeople. Tailor incentives that resonate with their aspirations.

        3. Comprehensive Components: Beyond just commissions, weave in bonuses, accelerators, and unique rewards that reflect your company’s innovative spirit.

        4. Align with Company Values: Your plan should echo the company’s mission, promoting teamwork and shared success.

        5. Performance-Centric Approach: Design incentives that directly encourage desired sales behaviours, aligning them with company goals.

        6. Stability Meets Motivation: Offer a mix of fixed pay for security and variable incentives to spur ambition.

        7. Clarity Above Complexity: Keep the plan straightforward. If it’s too convoluted, its essence gets lost.

        8. Stay Informed: Use industry data to ensure your compensation is competitive and up-to-date.

        9. Adapt and Refine: Markets and strategies evolve; your compensation plan should, too. Regularly assess and optimize for continued success.

        Wrapping Up

        Crafting an effective B2B SaaS sales compensation plan is both an art and a science. By understanding your team’s motivations, aligning incentives with company objectives, and staying agile in a dynamic market, you lay the foundation for sustained success.

        Remember, a well-structured compensation plan doesn’t just reward sales—it fosters a culture of excellence, collaboration, and shared growth.

        As the SaaS landscape continues to evolve, so should your strategies, ensuring you remain ahead in this exhilarating journey.