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Demystifying Total Contract Value (TCV): A Key Metric for SaaS Founders

Total Contract Value (TCV) is a crucial metric for any Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company to understand and employ. It measures the total monetary worth of a particular customer contract, factoring in all recurring revenue and any one-time fees or discounts. This metric offers valuable insight into a company's financial health, customer base expectations, and growth potential. In this article, we will dive deep into understanding TCV, explore its importance, and learn how SaaS founders can use it to propel their businesses towards success.

What is Total Contract Value (TCV)?

TCV is the aggregate value of a customer contract, taking into account all its components, which can include:

  • Recurring revenue (e.g., monthly, quarterly, or annual subscription fees)

  • One-time fees (e.g., implementation, onboarding, or customization)

  • Discounts, promotions, or special pricing agreements

To calculate TCV, you simply add recurring revenues to one-time charges, then subtract any discounts or promotional offers.

TCV = (Revenue from Subscription Plans) + (One-Time Charges) - (Discounts or Promotions)

Understanding TCV allows SaaS companies to estimate the total value they can expect from a customer relationship, allowing them to make more informed decisions about pricing, sales, and forecasting.

Why is TCV Important for SaaS Founders?

There are several reasons why TCV is a crucial metric for SaaS founders:

  1. Revenue Forecasting: TCV helps founders forecast future revenues more accurately, as it accounts for all revenue streams and contract specifics.

  2. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) Analysis: By understanding the TCV of a customer, founders can better determine whether the cost of acquiring customers is justified and allocate their marketing and sales resources accordingly.

  3. Pricing Strategy: TCV can provide valuable insights into whether the current pricing model is effective, or if adjustments may boost long-term revenues.

  4. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) Comparison: Comparing TCV to CLV can help SaaS companies understand the relationship between the cost of serving customers and the revenue they generate, ensuring they are maintaining healthy margins.

How to Use TCV to Drive Growth

SaaS founders can employ TCV in several ways to help drive their businesses' growth:

  1. Optimize Sales Focus: Analyze the TCV of different customer segments to identify high-value targets, optimizing sales and marketing efforts.

  2. Upsell and Cross-sell: Track TCV growth over time, identifying opportunities to upsell customers onto higher-priced plans or cross-sell additional products or services.

  3. Improve Customer Retention: Analyzing the TCV of retained versus churned customers can provide insights into the value of retention initiatives and help refine strategies.

  4. Benchmarking: Using TCV as a benchmark enables comparing products, plans, or sales teams' performance, and allows implementation of improvements where needed.


As a SaaS founder, understanding and managing your company's Total Contract Value (TCV) is an essential part of evaluating your business's financial health and growth potential. By monitoring TCV closely and using it to fine-tune strategies around pricing, marketing, and customer retention, founders can drive their SaaS companies towards increased success.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between TCV and Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)?

While TCV is the aggregate value of a customer contract over its lifetime, ARR refers only to the annualized recurring revenue from subscription-based contracts. ARR excludes any one-time fees or charges and does not factor in discounts or promotional pricing.

Is TCV the same as Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)?

TCV is an estimate of the total revenue a customer contract will generate, while CLV represents the total expected revenue over the entire duration of a customer's relationship with the company. TCV focuses on the value of a single contract, while CLV encompasses multiple contracts and services a customer may utilize throughout their relationship with the company.

How can I improve my company's TCV?

To increase TCV, SaaS founders can focus on several strategies, including refining pricing structures, targeting higher-value customer segments, investing in customer retention initiatives, and offering value-added products or services that encourage customers to opt for higher-priced plans.

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