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  • Writer's pictureTara Stevens

Salary Snapshot: Sales

Updated: Jun 11

As a recruitment partner to North American tech companies, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of high-growth start-up and scale-up leaders about their experiences, aspirations, motivations, and of course…. their compensation strategies!

When establishing a target compensation range for a new search, clients always ask us “What are you seeing in the market right now for a role like this?”. Since we’re having these conversations regularly, we thought we would pull back the curtains and share some insights to help you create a competitive compensation package. Alternatively, if you’re on the hunt for your next challenge, we hope you’ll find this data to be useful in the negotiation process.

Note: Be sure to subscribe to our Artemis Update and check out our archive of past issues for updates on big leadership moves and opportunities in tech!

Over the past 1-2 years, we've seen a rise in revenue-driving searches. As the market cooled and VC funding slowed, tech companies shifted from expanding headcount and products to maximizing revenue from existing offerings. As a result, we've gotten a lot of questions about hiring sales leaders - from timing, seniority vs. hands-on involvement, and necessary playbooks and of course, compensation—ask and you shall receive!

The TL;DR:

  • Sales execs top the charts as the highest earners in tech (above product and engineering)

  • Compensation increased significantly (~ 27%) for sales leaders between 2022 and 2024.

  • In sales, men are still paid significantly more than women at the executive level. The notion that sales is a 'boys' club' might still be true.

  • Over half of our sample reported working fully remotely, despite back-to-office or hybrid trends.

  • 74% of sales professionals in our survey indicated they are either looking for a new role or unsure about whether or not they'll make a move within the next year.

Let’s dive into the numbers

Below is the breakdown of salary distribution within our sample, which includes Individual Contributors (ICs), Leads, Managers, Heads, Directors, VPs and C-level. This sample reflects sales professionals within startup or scale-up companies throughout Canada.

What are you looking at?

The bar graphs below represent average compensation by level, including base salary and bonus/variable compensation (on target earnings or "OTE").

When it comes to Sales compensation structures, we often see that executive roles have a 50/50 (base/variable) split, whereas ICs have a bit more base than variable.

Digging deeper...

As headcount growth tapered and priorities shifted to driving revenue over the past 2 years, we've seen firsthand how in-demand A-player sales execs have been. As such, we weren't surprised that strategic sales execs have experienced a significant compensation increase (27%) since 2022.

What about Equity?

There has been a dramatic uptick in the number of companies offering equity across the org chart from 2022 to 2024 (sales professionals included). It's important to note that our data collection changed between 2022 and 2024 (read more about our new salary survey below), and might contribute to this trend. However, we have seen companies (especially earlier-stage start-ups) get creative with compensation packages in an increasingly cash-constrained environment, so this trend isn't entirely surprising. Offering equity to offset cash expenditure is a great way to retain top talent before significant growth has been achieved.

Hot tip: In early-stage startups, offering candidates multiple cash/equity options (e.g., lower cash/higher equity or higher cash/lower equity) has proven effective, allowing candidates to choose the ratio that suits them best.

Inaugural Salary Survey Results

In March 2024, we embarked on our first-ever Salary Snapshot Survey, to enrich our existing collection of salary information and offer even more compelling insights. Here's what we found:

Compensation by Gender

Our survey highlighted and reinforced the preconceived notion that sales remains a boys club. Despite some promising trends in prioritizing leadership diversity, the gender pay gap in sales is significant at 21.5%. For context, our sample was 23% female. Of that sample, on average, male sales professionals ($429K) reported salaries much higher than their female counterparts ($353K) at the executive level (Director/Head of, VP, C-level).

Remote Work

Over half of our sample of sales professionals (57%) reported being in fully remote roles and 43% reported following a hybrid work model. No one reported being stationed in the office full-time.

In contrast, the distribution across all other roles in our sample was: 40% fully remote, 51% hybrid, 6% in-office (3% chose not to disclose), indicating that sales leans more remote than other functions (which makes sense, given the external facing nature of the role).

Who's on the move?

As a recruiting agency, we recognize a bias in our sample since people engage with us when considering a move. Nevertheless, only 26% of respondents were confident they weren't seeking a new role within the next 12 months. Sales professionals do have a bit of a reputation for 'jumping around,' and our advice for hiring great sales leaders is to look for longevity and commitment. That being said, we caution against judging a book by it's cover. Not every short stint on a LinkedIn profile is a red flag. Conduct thorough interviews to understand someone's reasons for moving.

What’s behind the data?

Our snapshots provide valuable and current insights, derived from a select sample of individuals with verified and noteworthy experience in successful Canadian companies. This data, gathered from our recent searches and our newly launched Salary Survey, offers a more focused and relevant perspective than standard salary surveys.

  • Each Salary Snapshot represents between 60 - 140 sources.

  • Sources analyzed within the snapshots are aggregated from both direct conversations with candidates as well as our invitation-only tech salary survey of over 400 responses.

  • Each source is an individual who we deem a promising candidate for a role within a high-growth tech company. Most are gainfully employed and many were recommended as exceptionally talented. As a result, our salary numbers might be skewed towards the top of the range.

  • We elected not to show compensation figures related to equity or options. Though this was a significant aspect of the comp package for many execs, it’s often tough to put an annual dollar value on equity.

For privacy reasons, we will not disclose any specific information that could reveal the identity of an individual or their employer

Sharing is caring!

In the dynamic landscape of employment, salary data transparency acts as a transformative force benefiting both employers and job seekers alike. For employers, it provides a strategic advantage by aligning compensation packages with industry benchmarks, fostering equity, and enhancing recruitment appeal. Job seekers, armed with this knowledge, navigate their careers more strategically, negotiate effectively, and make informed decisions, contributing to a more open, fair, and empowered job market.

We believe that our Salary Snapshots are an effective delivery method for this data with our 4 T’s model:

Targeted: Specializing in the tech and innovation industry, our data reflects the compensation landscape of tech companies, making it directly relevant to your world.

Timely: Unlike traditional reports with multi-year lags, our 2023 salary data is up-to-date, providing you with the latest insights.

Trustworthy: Unlike free crowdsourced data, our information comes from one-on-one conversations with candidates actively involved in searches for our clients, ensuring reliability and accuracy.

Trim: We're agile and focused, offering a concise snapshot of current compensation trends, avoiding lengthy reports while retaining all the essential contextual information and analysis.

Please share this, or any of our other Salary Snapshots with your network!

Subscribe to our monthly Artemis Update to receive future Salary Snapshots directly to your inbox + more great content including our Industry Insights, Leaders on the Move, Humans of Tech, Dear Artemis and Tech Women on the Move series.

Created and published in April 2024


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