What Is OTE? A Step-by-Step Guide How to Calculating On-Target Earnings

On-Target Earnings

In today's fast-paced and highly competitive job market, compensation packages and earning potential are critical factors for both employees and employers. One such important metric is On Target Earning (OTE).

OTE is a critical component of a salesperson's compensation package and can be a game-changer when it comes to motivating and retaining high-performing sales professionals. 

In this blog post, we will dive deeper into OTE, what it means, how it's calculated, and why it's so important for businesses to understand and leverage OTE as part of their overall compensation strategy. 

Whether you are an employee or an employer, this post will help you understand how to optimize OTE for your benefit. So, let's get started!

Definition of OTE (On-Target Earnings)

On Target Earning (OTE) is a term used in the sales industry to describe the expected total compensation an employee should receive in a given year if they meet their sales targets or quotas. It includes both the base salary and any additional bonuses or commissions that are tied to sales performance.

OTE, or On-Target Earnings, provides a more comprehensive understanding of your earnings potential. It takes into account not just the base salary, but also any performance-based bonuses or commissions providing a clearer picture of the total compensation package.

For job seekers, understanding OTE can help them assess whether a role is worth pursuing. It also allows them to compare different job offers and negotiate a better compensation package. 

For employees, having a clear understanding of their OTE can motivate them to meet and exceed their targets and provide a sense of transparency and fairness in the workplace. By doing so, organizations can attract the right talent, maintain high levels of motivation and productivity, and ensure job satisfaction.

What Is OTE?

Difference between OTE and base salary

It's important to understand the difference between OTE and base salary. 

Base salary is the fixed amount of money you will earn annually. While OTE includes the basic pay plus the additional earnings through performance-based incentives and packages.

OTE is presented as a projection of your potential earnings. For example, if you're offered a job with an OTE of $100,000, it means you could potentially earn up to $100,000 if you meet or exceed your performance targets. 

As a salesperson, OTE is not just a compensation package, but a projection of your earning potential. It's a tool that helps you set realistic goals and work towards achieving them. It's also a great way to estimate your potential earnings for the upcoming year based on your expected sales performance.

However, it's important to keep in mind that OTE is not a guaranteed amount, as it's dependent on factors such as your performance and the company's overall success.

Components of OTE

Following are the key components of On-target-earnings.

Base salary

It's the fixed amount of money that an employee is guaranteed to receive every year, regardless of their sales performance. This provides a stable income that they can rely on.


This is a variable pay based on the sales performance of an employee. The more sales an employee makes, the higher the commission they receive, which motivates employees to work harder. Commissions can be paid as a percentage of gross sales or net profit.


Additional pay provided to employees who meet or exceed their sales targets. Bonuses are a form of recognition for employees who have performed exceptionally well. Bonuses can be based on sales volume, profit margins, or other metrics such as increasing customer engagement through social media.

Other benefits and incentives

Some organizations offer additional benefits and incentives to their teams, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and stock options. These benefits can help attract and retain employees and provide additional motivation.

How to Calculate OTE

Calculating OTE is relatively simple. It involves adding up the different components of compensation that make up the total package. Here's a simple formula for calculating OTE:

OTE = Annual Base Salary + Annual Commission at 100% Quota Attainment + Bonuses

Commissions and bonuses are two important components of OTE (On-Target Earnings) that can have a significant impact on the overall compensation.

 Here's how commissions and bonuses affect OTE:

  • Since commissions are a significant part of OTE, the more a sales professional sells, the higher their OTE will be. For instance, if a sales professional has a $50,000 base salary and has the potential to earn an additional $50,000 in commissions if they meet their sales targets, their OTE could be $100,000 if they achieve 100% of their sales targets.
  • Like commissions, bonuses are a variable component of OTE, and can significantly increase a sales professional's overall earnings. For example, if a sales professional has a $50,000 base salary and $20,000 in commissions, but also has the potential to earn a $10,000 bonus for meeting their sales targets, their OTE could increase to $80,000.
Basic Salary $50,000
Commision (on 100% target achievement) $20,000
Bonus (variable) $10,000
On-Target-Earning $80,000

Sales professionals who exceed their targets and earn high commissions and bonuses can significantly increase their OTE, making it an attractive career choice for those who are motivated to succeed.

Benefits of Understanding OTE

Benefits of Understanding OTE

From both the employer and employee perspective, there are many benefits to understanding OTE (On-Target Earnings). 

Here are some of the most significant ones;

Benefits for the employer:

  • Helps to attract and retain top sales talent by offering competitive compensation packages.
  • Helps to set realistic goals and objectives for the year.
  • Helps to motivate and incentivize employees to achieve their sales targets.
  • Provides a transparent way to communicate compensation to employees, which can help to build trust and foster positive relationships
  • Can help to drive overall sales performance and increase revenue for the company.

Benefits for the employee:

  • Provides a clear understanding of their earning potential and how to maximize their earnings.
  • Provides a structure for how to achieve higher earnings, which can help to motivate.
  • Helps to build trust and transparency with the employer, which can lead to stronger relationships.
  • Provides a sense of financial security and stability, which can help to reduce stress and increase job satisfaction

By comprehending the ins and outs of OTE, both employers and employees can unlock a world of possibilities. Employers who offer competitive compensation packages and clearly communicate OTE structures can attract employees who are passionate about their performance. 

Meanwhile, sales professionals who understand their earning potential can set realistic goals, work towards achieving them, and maximize their earnings, which can translate into increased customer engagement.

The more sales an employee makes, the higher the commission they receive, which motivates employees to work harder and provide excellent customer service. 

So take the time to learn more about OTE and the impact it can have on your career or business. With this knowledge, you can make informed decisions that can help you achieve your goals at a faster pace.