What Makes A Good Net Dollar Retention Benchmark

Published on December 13, 2023 by David Zhang

What Makes A Good Net Dollar Retention Benchmark

In the ever-competitive landscape of SaaS businesses, the magic bullet for gauging success isn't found merely in customer acquisition but also in customer retention and expansion. One critical metric rises to the top to distill the essence of growth and stability: Net Dollar Retention (NDR). Think of NDR as the lodestar of customer value – illuminating the true performance of retaining and expanding your customer base over time.

This detailed exploration will guide you through the nuances of Net Dollar Retention, assessing what constitutes a good benchmark for this metric and why it matters profoundly.

Unveiling Net Dollar Retention

Net Dollar Retention measures the revenue retained from existing customers over a specific period, accounting for upgrades, downgrades, and churn. It’s a metric telling the tale of not just survival, but how your customer base thrives – or withers – over time.

A simplified formula to calculate NDR is:

NDR = [(Starting MRR + Expansion MRR - Churn MRR) / Starting MRR] \* 100


  • MRR denotes Monthly Recurring Revenue.
  • Starting MRR is the MRR at the start of the period.
  • Expansion MRR represents additional revenue from upsells or cross-sells during the period.
  • Churn MRR is the lost revenue from cancellations or downgrades during the period.

Benchmarking NDR – The Good, the Great, and the Astounding

When contemplating a 'good' benchmark for NDR, context is king. Average NDR will differ significantly across industries, company stages, pricing models, and market conditions. However, ambitious SaaS companies tend to embrace the following tiers as a rule of thumb:

  • Good: An NDR of 100% is generally perceived as acceptable. It means you're efficiently replacing lost revenue with expansions and upsells.
  • Great: An NDR above 100% signifies not just efficiency, but growth within your existing customer base, suggesting a product’s strong value proposition.
  • Astounding: An NDR exceeding 125% is often the hallmark of industry leaders - a sign of a sticky product coupled with effective upselling strategies.

The Essence of a Strong NDR Benchmark

Here’s why a strong NDR is a north star for SaaS companies:

Sustainability and Growth

A robust NDR metric is a harbinger of sustainable growth. It reflects a product's inherent value, signaling that customers not only stay but also tend to spend more over time. In a sense, it's the confluence of good product-market fit, successful account management, and a fiercely loyal customer base.

Valuation and Investment Appeal

In the financial alchemy of valuation, NDR holds a special place. A high NDR can act as a magnet for investors, indicating promising unit economics and a predictable revenue stream. It’s often a more scrutinized metric than customer acquisition costs (CAC) or even growth rate because it encapsulates the long-term profitability narrative.

Customer Success and Product Stickiness

At the core of NDR are your customers. A high NDR implies customers are realizing significant value from your product. It points to product stickiness and effectiveness in solving pain points, which in turn translates to an authentic endorsement of your product.

Operational Efficiency

Efficient operations often segue into impressive NDR figures. Why? Because maintaining and growing existing customer relationships is usually less resource-intensive than acquiring new ones. A good NDR suggests that your team is capitalizing on the most cost-effective growth opportunities.

Predictable Revenue Forecasting

Stellar NDRs make for tranquil seas in the oft-stormy world of SaaS forecasting. Not only does this allow for more accurate predictions, but it also ensures a smoother scaling process – an entrepreneurial luxury in the tumultuous tides of SaaS monetization.

Factors Influencing Net Dollar Retention

Understanding what influences NDR can help in benchmarking and strategic planning:

Market Saturation

In saturated markets, expansion opportunities might be limited, thereby restraining your NDR. Conversely, in emerging or underserved markets, the upside potential for customer expenditure can dramatically inflate NDR.

Pricing Strategy

How you structure pricing tiers and cross-sell opportunities plays a significant role in NDR. Elastic pricing models that encourage upselling will generally yield higher NDR figures.

Customer Lifecycle

Your NDR is also a reflection of your maturity in managing customer lifecycle. Seasoned companies with sophisticated customer success frameworks tend to have better NDRs, as they are more adept in identifying and capturing expansion opportunities.

Product Differentiation

The uniqueness and competitive edge of your product dictate your ability to maintain and grow revenue within your customer base. Niche and highly differentiated products usually command higher NDRs.

Churn Management

Finally, proactive churn management strategies bolster NDR. By identifying at-risk accounts and deploying retention strategies, companies can better preserve and expand their MRR from existing customers.

Tailoring Your Benchmark

The idyllic benchmark for NDR is not static; it evolves with your business model, target audience, market position, and operational excellence. Thus, while industry averages offer a certain guide, your unique path might suggest different aspirational goals for NDR.

Crafting Your NDR Narrative

A good NDR benchmark is a story of customer loyalty, product excellence, and commercial prowess. It should be tailored to your SaaS company's lifecycle stage, market segment, and operational maturity. And while industry averages provide a baseline, surpassing these benchmarks is where your NDR story shines brightest.


Net Dollar Retention is more than just a number – it's a compelling narrative of your relationship with your customer. It's an insight into your product's value, your team's effectiveness, and your business's prospects for growth.

In the calculus of SaaS benchmarks, striving for an NDR that eclipses 100% is your ticket to not just surviving, but thriving in the choppy seas of the B2B market. As an accountable metric, it's the crucible in which the alchemy of customer retention transmutes into the gold of sustainable revenue growth.

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