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ACV Unveiled: How to Leverage Annual Contract Value for Long-term Success

Maciej Wilczyński
Managing Partner, Founder Valueships
September 22, 2023

You perhaps know that understanding and utilizing key metrics are paramount to achieving long-term success. Among them, ACV stands out as a powerful tool for businesses, particularly used by SaaS companies and subscription-based models. 

Therefore, in this guide, we'll unveil the meaning and significance of ACV, explore its benefits, learn how to calculate it effectively in sales, and more.

It's time to start! ⌚

Understanding ACV Meaning

ACV definition is really straightforward.

Annual Contract Value (ACV) represents the average annual value of a customer's contract, reflecting how much annual revenue a business can expect to generate from a particular customer within a year and showing if a contract is worth renewing or expanding. 

It’s a fundamental indicator used in SaaS businesses, especially in those that have subscription-based models. It's often used to track revenue growth across multiple years in conjunction with other metrics.

What are the Benefits of Annual Contract Value?

Is it really worth spending time on this statistic? For sure! That’s because of the many benefits that are associated with this figure. Let’s see them.

01 Precise Revenue Projection

One of the primary benefits of ACV is its ability to provide businesses with more accurate revenue projections. 

If you assess individual contracts and calculate their values, you will be able to predict income for a specific period. Moreover, when monitoring recurring contracts through a sales dashboard, businesses gain valuable insights into revenue growth.

Budgeting, resource allocation, and growth planning are all made easier with this precision in revenue forecasting. It helps in understanding what customers would typically pay but also prepares the company for potential losses in the sales process.

Moreover, using this metric, it's a great way to identify areas where you can increase revenue, such as upselling or expanding existing contracts.

02 Informed Sales Strategies

Sales teams can use this indicator data to tailor their strategies. 

Knowing the value of one contract, sales reps can prioritize higher-value leads, optimize their efforts, and focus on the most lucrative opportunities. 

With this statistic, teams can work more efficiently as a result of allocating their resources to contracts that contribute the most to the company's bottom line. And this ensures that all efforts are concentrated where they matter most.

03 Churn Rate Evaluation

The churn rate - which measures the number of customers who cancel their subscriptions - can be analyzed in conjunction with ACV. 

A higher churn rate with low ACV points out potential problems, while a low churn rate with high ACV suggests a healthier customer base. 

ACV offers insights into the quality and sustainability of your customer relationships. When used alongside churn rate data, it can help pinpoint areas where improvements are needed, such as customer retention strategies or pricing adjustments.

04 Lifetime Value Assessment

This indicator also helps in determining the lifetime value of a customer. 

Multiplying it by the average customer lifespan lets businesses gauge the total revenue a customer represents throughout their relationship with the company. This calculation provides a long-term perspective on a customer's value, which can be used by businesses to decide regarding customer acquisition costs and marketing strategies. 

So, understanding the value of a customer is crucial for planning sustainable and profitable growth strategies.

05 Competitive Advantage

Tracking metrics like the amount of money a business makes from customer subscriptions is… well, more than important. 

These figures contribute to the total annual revenue and have a direct impact on the company's cash flow.

Businesses that have a clear picture of the annual value of their contracts can outmaneuver competitors by tailoring their offerings and pricing structures more effectively. Thanks to using this calculation, companies can align their product or service offerings with the expectations and budgets of their target customers. 

The result? More competitive position in the market.

And now, you can see that this statistic can be particularly beneficial for businesses dealing with annual or multi-year contracts, as it offers many advantages and helps in gauging the long-term revenue stream.

How to Calculate ACV in Sales?

Time for more details. Here's how to calculate this important metric.

ACV calculation used by SaaS is also a simple process:

ACV = Total Contract Value/total years in contract

  1. Total Contract Value (TCV): Start by summing up the value of all contracts signed within a specific period. This represents the total revenue potential from these contracts.
  2. Time frame: Divide the adjusted TCV by the number of years to get the average ACV.

In ACV sales calculation, remember about:

💡 Churn deduction: Subtract the revenue lost due to churn (cancellations or non-renewals) during the same period. This deduction reflects the decrease in potential revenue.

💡 Additional considerations: Take into account any one-time fees, upsells, or expansions.

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What is the Difference Between ACV and ARR vs. MRR?

The ACV vs. ARR or MRR debate is one that many businesses face when deciding which one to use. 

While ARR and ACV or MRR are both essential sales metrics, they differ in their focus and scope:

1️⃣ ACV (Annual Contract Value)

  • ACV can help in focusing on individual customer contracts.
  • It reflects the total value of a contract within a year.
  • It's particularly useful for assessing long-term revenue potential.
  • This metric is usually the preferred choice when assessing the average value of customer contracts within a year, offering insights into annual income. 

2️⃣ ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue)

  • Indicators such as ARR averages the recurring revenue generated from all customers.
  • It represents the regular, expected revenue from subscription-based services.
  • It provides insight into the stability of current revenue streams.

3️⃣ MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue)

  • Unlike ACV, it focuses on monthly income.
  • It allows businesses to track revenue on a month-to-month basis.
  • It breaks down revenue by individual customers, making it easy to identify which customers are contributing the most to your monthly revenue and who might be churning.

However, metrics like ARR, MRR, and ACV would be incomplete without knowing their individual roles and how they collectively contribute to a business's success. After all, each of them provides unique insights.

Get to know ACV with Valueships

As SaaS and B2B companies struggle with metrics and data analysis, partnering with experts like Valueships can be priceless.

For example, our company offers deep expertise in value-selling, analytics and research, strategy consulting, and pricing consulting to help you understand, implement, and leverage ACV, as well as other metrics that show the pulse of your business.

We will help you realize the potential of ACV, determine the amount of ARR, minimize CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost), as well as optimize MRR. 

Indicators have no secrets from us.

Valueships is your trusted partner and can help you see and understand sales data. Benefit from our expertise in your long-term growth. 

Use ACV Metric in your Sales Strategy

The ACV is a critical tool for understanding your revenue potential, guiding strategies, and ensuring long-term success. Integrating this SaaS metric into your strategy can boost your earnings.

Thanks to comprehending the annual value of your contracts, differentiating it from other statistics, and utilizing it with the assistance of experts like Valueships, your business can prosper better than before.

See new opportunities, identify issues, boost sales efforts, and get a lot of customers. There is no time to lost.

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Maciej Wilczyński
Managing Partner, Founder Valueships

Expert in B2B pricing, monetization and value-based selling strategies. Over the past year, he has completed over 40 consulting projects in Europe. Prior to founding Valueships, he worked at McKinsey & Company, mainly in the TelCo, software, and banking industries. He completed his doctorate in pricing in SaaS start-ups at the University of Economics in Wrocław, where he also lectures.

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Maciej Wilczyński
Managing Partner, Founder Valueships

Expert in B2B pricing, monetization and value-based selling strategies. Over the past year, he has completed over 40 consulting projects in Europe. Prior to founding Valueships, he worked at McKinsey & Company, mainly in the TelCo, software, and banking industries. He completed his doctorate in pricing in SaaS start-ups at the University of Economics in Wrocław, where he also lectures.