November 20, 2023 12:04 pm

Vendorful Team

On Target Earnings (OTE) is a term frequently used in the sales industry to refer to the total expected compensation a salesperson can earn when they meet their sales targets. This figure typically includes a base salary and additional commission or bonuses that are tied to performance. In this glossary entry, we will delve into the intricacies of OTE, exploring its components, how it is calculated, and its implications for sales professionals.

Understanding OTE is crucial for anyone involved in sales, as it provides a clear picture of potential earnings and can be a significant motivator. It’s also an essential tool for businesses in structuring their compensation plans to attract and retain top talent. Let’s embark on this comprehensive exploration of On Target Earnings.

On Target Earnings OTE formula

Source: Spiff

Components of On Target Earnings

The total OTE is typically composed of two main elements: the base salary and the variable pay. The base salary is a fixed amount that the salesperson receives regardless of their performance. It provides a level of financial stability and is usually paid out on a regular schedule, such as weekly or monthly.

The variable pay, on the other hand, is contingent on the salesperson’s performance. It usually takes the form of commissions or bonuses that are awarded when certain sales targets or goals are met. The variable pay can fluctuate significantly, making it a less predictable but potentially more lucrative component of OTE.

Base Salary

The base salary is the guaranteed part of a salesperson’s compensation. It’s the amount they can expect to receive even if they don’t make any sales. This component of OTE provides a safety net, ensuring that salespeople have a steady income to rely on.

However, the base salary is typically lower in sales roles than in other professions. This is because the potential for high earnings through commissions and bonuses is considered part of the overall compensation package. The base salary is often seen as a way to cover basic living expenses, with the real earning potential lying in the variable pay.

Variable Pay

Variable pay is the part of OTE that is directly tied to a salesperson’s performance. It’s often structured as a commission, which is a percentage of the revenue generated from sales. The more a salesperson sells, the higher their commission will be.

Some companies also offer bonuses for reaching certain milestones or exceeding sales targets. These bonuses can significantly boost a salesperson’s earnings, making them a powerful incentive. However, they also add an element of risk, as failing to meet targets can result in lower earnings.

Calculating On Target Earnings

Calculating OTE involves adding the base salary to the expected variable pay. The variable pay is usually estimated based on historical performance data and sales targets. For example, if a salesperson has consistently met their sales targets in the past, it’s reasonable to expect that they will continue to do so in the future.

However, it’s important to note that OTE is just an estimate. Actual earnings can vary depending on a variety of factors, including market conditions, the salesperson’s performance, and changes in the company’s compensation plan. Therefore, while OTE provides a useful benchmark, it’s not a guarantee of income.

Base Salary and Commission Rate

The first step in calculating OTE is to determine the base salary and commission rate. The base salary is usually a fixed amount, while the commission rate is a percentage of sales. For example, a salesperson might have a base salary of $50,000 and a commission rate of 10%.

To calculate the expected commission, the salesperson would need to estimate their total sales for the year. If they expect to sell $500,000 worth of products or services, their commission would be $50,000 (10% of $500,000). Adding this to the base salary gives an OTE of $100,000.

Adjusting for Performance

While the above calculation provides a basic estimate of OTE, it doesn’t take into account the salesperson’s performance. If the salesperson consistently exceeds their sales targets, their actual earnings could be much higher than the estimated OTE.

On the other hand, if the salesperson struggles to meet their targets, their earnings could be lower. Therefore, it’s important to adjust the OTE estimate based on the salesperson’s past performance and future expectations.

Implications of On Target Earnings

OTE has several implications for both salespeople and companies. For salespeople, it provides a clear picture of their potential earnings, which can be a powerful motivator. It also allows them to compare compensation packages between different companies or roles.

For companies, OTE is a useful tool for structuring compensation plans. By offering a competitive OTE, companies can attract top talent and incentivize high performance. However, they also need to ensure that their compensation plans are sustainable and aligned with their business goals.

For Salespeople

OTE is a key factor that salespeople consider when evaluating job offers. A high OTE can be very attractive, as it suggests the potential for high earnings. However, salespeople also need to consider the breakdown of the OTE. A high base salary provides more financial stability, while a high variable pay offers more earning potential but also more risk.

It’s also important for salespeople to understand that OTE is just an estimate. Actual earnings can vary, and achieving the OTE often requires meeting or exceeding sales targets. Therefore, salespeople need to realistically assess their ability to meet these targets when considering a job offer.

For Companies

For companies, OTE is a critical component of their compensation strategy. Offering a competitive OTE can help attract top sales talent. However, companies also need to balance this with their business goals and financial resources. If the OTE is too high, it could strain the company’s finances. If it’s too low, it could demotivate salespeople and lead to high turnover.

Companies also need to consider the mix of base salary and variable pay. A high base salary can attract salespeople who value financial stability, while a high variable pay can attract those who are motivated by the potential for high earnings. The right mix will depend on the company’s business model, market conditions, and the type of salespeople they want to attract.


On Target Earnings is a key concept in sales compensation, providing a benchmark for potential earnings. It’s composed of a base salary and variable pay, and is calculated based on sales targets and performance. Understanding OTE is crucial for both salespeople and companies, as it impacts motivation, job satisfaction, and business performance.

However, it’s important to remember that OTE is just an estimate. Actual earnings can vary depending on a variety of factors. Therefore, while OTE provides a useful guideline, it’s not a guarantee of income. Both salespeople and companies need to consider these factors when evaluating and structuring compensation packages.

About the Author

The Vendorful team is a group of passionate and experienced professionals who are dedicated to helping organizations of all sizes win more RFPs. We have a deep understanding of the RFP process and the challenges that organizations face when responding to RFPs. We also have a proven track record of success, having helped our clients win hundreds of RFPs.

The Vendorful team is made up of people from all walks of life, but we all share a common goal: to help our clients succeed. We are a diverse team, but we are united by our commitment to excellence. We are always looking for new ways to improve our services and to help our clients win more RFPs.

We have taken all that we know about RFPs and poured that into an AI Assistant that can help you answer RFPs in a fraction of the time with almost no effort. Sign up and try it out!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}