On-Target Earnings

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On-Target Earnings (OTE)

Definition: On-Target Earnings (OTE) the total amount of salary that a salesman is supposed to be rewarded in case the required expectations of performance levels are met. It is the basic salary that is fixed and the commission that is variable, depending on the achievement of particular goals of sales. OTE is an important salient factor, in particular a sales job; it gives transparency to the possible earnings by an individual under an ideal performance scenario.

Detailed Explanation

OTE is used in most sales-related industries to drive and model earnings through performance; it allows a salesperson’s interests to be aligned with company strategic goals through a linkage of compensation directly paid for the achievement of targets. OTE represents a holistic indicator of what a salesperson should be able to earn and is an important guide for effort and strategy.
There is quite an easy calculation formula for OTE:
OTE = Base Salary + Commission at 100% of Sales Target


  • Base Salary is the fixed income portion of the compensation.
  • Commission at 100% of Sales Target is the variable part calculated on the seller’s achieving 100% of their goals for the sale.

For example, a $50,000 base salary with the ability to earn $25,000 more in commissions at 100% of quota would mean on-target earnings of $75,000.

Relevance in the Sales Process

  • Motivation: OTE motivates the salespeople and encourages them to achieve and exceed their sales target.
  • Recruitment: Clarity in the OTE helps to attract high-caliber candidates by making them
  • Performance Measurement: OTE lays the platform for measuring the strategy effectiveness in sales and performance levels in an individual capacity of the employees.
  • Financial Planning: It enables the salesperson and the company to forecast earnings and budget properly.
  • Transparency: This kind of compensation structure brings in place a clear way of compensation, thus boosting the level of trust and communication between the sales staff and the management.

Real-World Example

Assume that a base salary for a sales representative at a software company is $60,000. The company sets a sales target of $500,000 in terms of new contracts. There will be a 10% commission rate for the company if that set target is met. This hence means that the OTE for such a sales representative would be:
Base Salary: $60,000

Commission: $500,000 x 10% = $50,000

OTE: $60,000 + $50,000 = $110,000 This OTE states that the sales representative will earn $110,000 if the sales representative reaches 100% of target sales. In another case, a sales director for a pharmaceutical company can make an annual salary of $250,000 OTE, although $120,000 is base pay.

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