What is ACV? [How to Calculate, Importance & More]

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Now, we know what you're thinking: "ACV? Isn't that just something my grandma swears by for everything from curing a cold to fixing a leaky faucet?"

Fortunately, friends, we're not talking about apple cider vinegar!

This "What Is ACV in Business?" article focuses on one thing, and one thing only—annual contract value.

In this blog post, we're exploring what's ACV in sales, how to calculate it, the importance of knowing annual contract value, typical ACV for SaaS organizations, and other key metrics related to this figure.

No longer will you be scratching your head asking the question, "What is ACV in finance?"

After this guide, it won't be some kind of mystical formula cooked up by finance wizards to bamboozle the rest of us, AVC in sales will become your main source of information related to analyzing your company's strategy and success.

What Is ACV in Sales?

What Is ACV in Sales

So, let's start off with the good stuff: What does ACV stand for in sales?

The ACV sales acronym stands for Annual Contract Value and serves as a critical business metric, offering insight into the financial worth derived from individual customer contracts.

It contains the average yearly dollar amount generated from a variety of sources, including:

  • Monthly contracts
  • Annual subscriptions
  • Consulting services

Additionally, sales ACV facilitates the calculation of the yearly value associated with multi-year contracts, providing a comprehensive overview of revenue streams. Particularly prevalent in Software as a Service (SaaS) business models, ACV enables organizations to track the value derived from one- or two-year service subscriptions.

However, it's essential to note that ACV is not standardized across businesses; rather, it depends on the unique characteristics of individual contracts and business operations.

For example, differences in subscription costs and lengths can lead to varying ACVs, even among similar companies. While one enterprise may boast a large number of customers with lower subscription costs, another may have a smaller customer base with higher-priced subscriptions, resulting in comparable revenue figures but distinct ACV profiles.

Despite this variability, ACV is a valuable tool for internal performance comparison over time. By analyzing changes in ACV year over year, businesses can assess their growth trajectory and make informed strategic decisions to optimize revenue streams and maximize profitability.

Calculating ACV

ACV calculation typically summarizes the total value of contracts signed within a specified time frame. The formula for ACV computation is straightforward yet crucial for deriving accurate insights into revenue streams.

Here's the formula breakdown:

ACV = Total Contract Value divided by Contract Term

This formula offers a foundational understanding of ACV, but it's essential to explore its nuances further:

  1. Total Contract Value: This component represents the cumulative value of all contracts signed during the specified period. It includes revenue from various sources, such as monthly subscriptions, annual contracts, and additional services or products.
  2. Number of Years in the Contract: ACV considers the duration of customer contracts to compute the average annual value accurately. For contracts spanning multiple years, dividing the total contract value by the contract duration yields the annualized value.

Now that we have those finer details out of the way, let's look at a few examples of how to calculate ACV.

Examples of Calculating ACV

Below are two examples of hypothetical companies demonstrating the calculation of Annual Contract Value (ACV) and its relevance in business decision-making:

TechSavvy Inc. secures a three-year contract with Client X, valued at $80,000. To determine the ACV for this contract, TechSavvy Inc. divides the total contract value ($80,000) by the contract duration (three years).

This computation reveals an ACV of $26,667.

Client X's ACV surpasses other clients, indicating the strategic significance of maintaining this relationship and ensuring contract renewal. The company then allocates additional resources to cater to Client X's needs and acknowledges the sales representative responsible for securing the contract.

Moreover, the company uses insights from this analysis to refine its sales strategies and replicate successful approaches across its client base.

Secondary Example

Consider a scenario where a theoretical consulting firm, Advisory Solutions, manages three client contracts with varying values and durations:

Contract Name

Total Contract Value

Contract Length

Contract A


Two years

Contract B


Four years

Contract C


Three years

Advisory Solutions divides the total contract value by the contract length to assess the ACV for each contract. The resulting ACVs for Contracts A, B, and C are $25,000, $7,500, and $33,333, respectively.

Upon analysis, it becomes apparent that Contract A yields the highest annual ACV while Contract C boasts the highest total value. This insight prompts Advisory Solutions to prioritize Contract A in resource allocation and client management efforts.

To gauge the overall performance of client contracts, Advisory Solutions computes the average ACV by summing the individual ACVs and dividing by the total number of contracts, which is three. This calculation reveals an average ACV of $21,944.

Advisory Solutions optimizes client relationships, maximizes revenue potential, and drives sustainable growth by leveraging ACV alongside other pertinent metrics, such as Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) and Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC).

What Is the Difference Between ACV and ARR?

Understanding metrics like ACV and Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) is essential for evaluating performance, revenue streams, and strategic decision-making in business analytics.

Below, we present a comparative table highlighting the key differences between ACV and ARR, elucidating their definitions, purposes, calculation methods, and practical applications.





The annual value of one contract over its subscription period.

The amount of money a company makes from all contracts over one year.


Measures individual contract performance.

Tracks yearly revenue for the entire company.


Useful for assessing individual performance and resource allocation.

Valuable for calculating revenue growth and making generalized budgeting decisions.

Calculation Method

Calculated by dividing the total contract value by the contract length.

Derived by summing the ACVs of all contracts.


If a company has three clients with ACVs of $1,000, $4,000, and $10,000 respectively, it uses this information to allocate more resources to the client with the highest ACV and prioritize contract renewal.

If the sum of the ACVs for these three clients equals $15,000, the company can utilize this information to plan its budget and estimate anticipated profit.

While ACV focuses on individual contract performance, ARR offers insights into overall company revenue. Both metrics play crucial roles in fostering data-driven decisions and financial planning.

The Importance of Knowing ACV in Sales

Importance of Knowing ACV in Sales

Comprehending ACV holds significant importance in sales operations, offering invaluable insights into performance evaluation, resource allocation, and revenue forecasting.

Let's look at why ACV in sales is crucial.

Helps Measure Sales Rep Performance

ACV serves as a key metric for tracking the performance of sales representatives. Supervisors can conduct comprehensive performance reviews by measuring the ACV of each contract secured by sales reps.

This evaluation aids in:

  • Identifying top-performing reps
  • Understanding the effectiveness of various sales strategies
  • Developing targeted onboarding and training programs to enhance overall sales performance

Recognizing and rewarding top-performing reps incentivizes continued excellence and motivates others to emulate their success.

Determines Which Accounts Provide the Highest Value

Limited resources necessitate prioritization in managing client relationships. Utilizing the ACV metric enables businesses to identify high-performing clients efficiently.

Organizations can allocate resources strategically by comparing ACVs, and prioritizing clients who contribute the most annual revenue. For instance, if Client A boasts an ACV of $40,000 while Client B's ACV is $23,000, the company can allocate more customer support and attention to Client A, thereby maximizing revenue opportunities.

Helps Provide a Framework for Revenue Forecasting

Accurate revenue forecasting is essential for informed decision-making and strategic planning in today's fast-paced business environment. ACV is a fundamental building block for revenue forecasting, providing organizations with a reliable framework for projecting future revenue streams.

By analyzing historical ACV data and trends, businesses can extrapolate future revenue projections with greater accuracy and confidence. This enables organizations to anticipate revenue fluctuations, identify potential growth opportunities, and proactively mitigate risks.

Moreover, ACV is a valuable input in financial models and forecasting tools, enabling companies to develop comprehensive revenue forecasts that align with strategic objectives and financial targets. With reliable revenue forecasts, organizations can make intelligent decisions regarding resource allocation, investment priorities, and business expansion strategies.

Typical ACV for SaaS Businesses

In Software as a Service (SaaS) companies, the concept of ACV is far from one-size-fits-all. The intricacies of subscription models, customer demographics, and revenue streams contribute to a nuanced understanding of ACV. Let's unravel this complexity.

Consider Netflix, a behemoth in the subscription-based entertainment industry. While its monthly subscription fee is a relatively modest $12.99, the annual revenue per customer is $155.88. Despite this seemingly low ACV, Netflix reported a staggering $15.8 billion in annual revenue in 2018. How is this discrepancy reconciled? The answer lies in the diversification of revenue streams and the sheer volume of subscribers. Netflix caters to a vast customer base, each contributing incrementally to the overall revenue pie.

A breakdown by B2C and B2B sectors unveils distinct ACV patterns. Companies like Netflix and FabFitFun, operating in the B2C space, boast an average ACV of $100. In contrast, B2B giants like Salesforce and HubSpot command a significantly higher average ACV of $1,080. This disparity underscores the influence of target markets, pricing strategies, and customer acquisition dynamics on ACV variations.

However, ACV finds its true value when contextualized within a broader framework of sales metrics. When juxtaposed with Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), ACV illuminates the efficiency and sustainability of sales efforts. For instance, if the revenue generated from an annual contract fails to offset the cost of acquiring the customer, it signals a potential imbalance in the sales process. In such instances, reassessing sales and customer engagement tactics becomes imperative to alleviate friction points and drive profitability.

It's crucial to dispel the misconception that a low ACV equates to insignificance. Take Netflix as a prime example – despite its comparatively modest ACV; it stands tall as a global entertainment powerhouse.

Other Important Metrics Related to ACV in Sales

Metrics Related to ACV in Sales

Now that you have the ACV sales definition and understand the concept, we think it is fitting to explore other metrics. A nuanced understanding of key metrics beyond ACV is paramount for businesses striving to optimize performance, drive revenue growth, and enhance customer satisfaction.

While ACV offers valuable insights into individual contract values, several other metrics provide a comprehensive view of sales operations and guide decision-makers in the correct direction.

In this section, we delve into the significance of Total Contract Value (TCV), ACV Bookings, Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), elucidating their relevance, methodologies, and practical applications in the context of sales management and revenue optimization.

Total Contract Value (TCV)

Total Contract Value (TCV) represents the cumulative worth of a contract over its entire lifespan, containing all revenue streams generated throughout the contract's duration. Unlike ACV, which focuses solely on the average annual value of a contract, TCV provides an all-inclusive perspective by accounting for the total revenue potential associated with a contract.

TCV is particularly valuable for businesses operating in industries with long-term contractual agreements or complex pricing structures. By analyzing TCV, organizations gain insights into the full revenue potential of each contract, enabling:

  • Better resource allocation
  • Revenue forecasting
  • Tactical planning

For instance, a SaaS company offering multi-year subscription plans may utilize TCV to assess the long-term revenue impact of each contract, identify opportunities for upselling or cross-selling additional services, and optimize pricing strategies to maximize overall contract value.

Furthermore, TCV is a valuable tool for assessing the financial health of a business and projecting future revenue streams. By comparing TCV across different contracts or customer segments, organizations can identify trends, evaluate the impact of pricing changes or promotions, and make informed decisions to drive revenue growth and profitability.

ACV Bookings

ACV Bookings, a crucial sales analytics metric, encapsulates the annual contract value of new incremental bookings based on various revenue components within a given fiscal quarter. This metric serves as a barometer for assessing the growth trajectory of client accounts, providing insights into revenue expansion beyond initial contracts and anticipated future growth.

To truly grasp the essence of ACV Bookings, it's imperative to dissect its components and understand its implications within the broader context of sales operations.

At its core, ACV Bookings encompass the estimated subscription revenue and other revenue streams generated from a customer contract executed within a specific fiscal quarter.

This includes income from:

  1. New contracts
  2. Upgrades
  3. Add-ons
  4. Other incremental revenue sources derived from client engagements

By quantifying the annual contract value of these incremental bookings, businesses gain visibility into the revenue potential associated with new client acquisitions and expansions within existing accounts.

Moreover, ACV Bookings extend beyond initial contract values, encircling the actual growth in client accounts beyond the original booking. This entails tracking revenue growth stemming from upsells, cross-sells, renewals, and expansions within client relationships. Capturing the incremental revenue generated from account expansions allows businesses to assess the effectiveness of their account management strategies and identify opportunities for further revenue optimization.

Furthermore, ACV Bookings considers any contractually committed future growth, reflecting the anticipated revenue streams associated with contracted commitments beyond the current fiscal period. This forward-looking perspective enables companies to forecast future revenue streams, assess revenue visibility, and make informed decisions regarding resource allocation and strategic planning.

It's worth noting that the methodology for measuring ACV Bookings is consistent with the approach utilized by the organization in its public filings or as agreed upon in writing by relevant stakeholders. This ensures standardization and comparability of ACV Bookings across different reporting periods, facilitating meaningful analysis and interpretation of the data.

Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)

Monthly Recurring Revenue

Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) is a fundamental metric for businesses operating on subscription-based models, offering a comprehensive view of the total revenue generated from active subscriptions within a specified month.

Unlike one-time fees, MRR focuses exclusively on recurring charges, providing invaluable insights into the ongoing revenue streams that sustain the business.

The calculation of MRR is relatively straightforward, involving multiplying the number of monthly subscribers by the average revenue per user (ARPU). This simple formula provides a snapshot of the total revenue contributed by active subscriptions within a month, facilitating a clear understanding of revenue generation patterns and trends.

Let's explore the different types of MRR to gain a comprehensive understanding:

  1. New MRR: New MRR represents the revenue generated from new customer subscriptions acquired during a specific month. This metric highlights the success of customer. acquisition efforts and provides insights into the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, sales initiatives, and product launches in driving revenue growth.
  2. Upgrade MRR: Upgrade MRR quantifies the additional revenue generated when existing customers transition from lower to higher-tier plans. This type of MRR underscores the value of upselling and cross-selling strategies, demonstrating the potential for increasing customer lifetime value and maximizing revenue per user.
  3. Downgrade MRR: Downgrade MRR reflects the reduction in revenue resulting from customers downgrading their subscription plans within a given month. While inevitable to some extent, excessive downgrade MRR may signal customer dissatisfaction or a mismatch between product offerings and customer needs, necessitating adjustments to pricing or feature sets.
  4. Expansion MRR: Expansion MRR captures the incremental revenue generated from existing customers compared to the previous month. This type of MRR signifies the success of retention efforts, add-on sales, and account management strategies in driving revenue growth without acquiring new customers. Positive expansion MRR indicates a healthy customer base and a strong foundation for sustained revenue growth.
  5. Reactivation MRR: Reactivation MRR represents the revenue generated by previously churned customers who return to a paid subscription plan. This type of MRR reflects the effectiveness of re-engagement strategies and underscores the importance of customer retention in minimizing revenue loss and maximizing profitability.
  6. Contraction MRR: Contraction MRR quantifies the revenue lost due to subscription cancellations, downgrades, or discounts within a specific month. While some level of contraction MRR is inevitable in any subscription-based business, excessive contraction may indicate underlying issues such as poor product-market fit, suboptimal pricing strategies, or inadequate customer support.
  7. Churn MRR: Churn MRR represents the total revenue lost due to subscription cancellations within a month. This metric provides insights into customer attrition rates and the effectiveness of retention efforts, guiding strategies to reduce churn and increase customer lifetime value.
  8. Net New MRR: Net New MRR reflects the net revenue growth or decline compared to the previous month, accounting for new MRR, expansion MRR, and churned MRR. This metric offers a comprehensive overview of revenue trends and trajectories, guiding strategic decision-making and resource allocation to drive sustained growth and profitability.

By effectively understanding and leveraging these metrics, you can gain deeper insights into your subscription-based revenue streams, identify areas for improvement, and implement targeted strategies to maximize revenue potential and achieve business objectives.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is a pivotal metric for businesses. It estimates the total revenue a typical customer is expected to generate over their entire relationship with the company. It offers valuable insights into customer interactions, overall profitability, and the effectiveness of marketing strategies.

When assessing CLV, it's essential to consider both the total average revenue and profit generated by customers. These metrics offer crucial insights into customer behavior and the efficacy of the overall marketing plan. By analyzing revenue and profit metrics, businesses can identify areas of strength and areas for improvement in their CRM and marketing efforts.

For a deeper understanding, breaking down CLV by customer segments, such as quartiles or other segmentation criteria, can provide valuable insights. This approach allows businesses to identify patterns and trends among different customer groups, enabling targeted strategies to enhance overall CLV across the customer base.

It's important to note that CLV can be calculated using various methods, ranging from basic revenue-based calculations to more complex equations that factor in gross margin and operating expenses like cost of goods sold (COGS), shipping, and fulfillment.

Marketing expenses may also be included, although they are sometimes omitted due to their variable nature.

What Is ACV - Final Thoughts

Understanding "What is ACV?" is essential for businesses, particularly those in the SaaS industry, as it provides valuable insights into the average annual value of customer contracts.

By leveraging ACV metrics, companies can effectively track and measure the financial impact of their customer relationships, identify high-value clients, and make intelligent decisions to drive revenue growth.

For seamless management, tracking, and maintenance of customer relationships, especially within the dynamic landscape of SaaS businesses, check out Ringy, our all-in-one sales software solution.

With its comprehensive suite of features tailored to the needs of modern businesses, Ringy allows you to optimize your sales processes, enhance customer engagement, and maximize the lifetime value of their client base.

Experience the transformative power of Ringy and unlock new possibilities for sales success in today's competitive market.

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