Compensation trends for VP roles in 2023 varied significantly by title and company size according to data collected by Betts in the technology startup space. Some of the more specialized titles saw a wider salary band, while others with a smaller average pay range featured better incentives in their benefits package.
As we saw with C-level jobs, the tech space is prioritizing two factors when hiring – experience and scalability. A departmental Vice President in a modern SaaS company is more often than not a veteran professional who has proven they can lead a team and drive results, and their importance only grows as startups break out of Seed into the Series B and C stages. For a deeper dive on compensation trends for all exec-level roles, check out our Executive Compensation Guide here.
Executive Compensation Trends for VPs in 2023:
Our research focused on six Vice President roles primarily:
- VP of Sales
- VP of Marketing
- VP of People Ops
- VP of Finance
- VP of Product Management
- VP of Customer Success
To gain a deeper understanding of how compensation trends contrasted not only between the various titles but also by company size, we looked at the average salary and bonus rate differences from candidates placed in companies at Seed stage compared to those in Series A, B, C and D. What we found was that on-target earnings (OTE) played a huge factor in hiring for revenue-driving roles, namely those in sales, marketing, product development and customer success teams.
Here is the breakdown of salary and benefits trends per Vice President role:
1. VP of Sales
The VP of Sales is one of the (if not, the) most vital positions a startup needs to fill – their entire job is ensuring that AE (account executive) and SDR (sales development representative) teams have the direction they need to meet quotas and ultimately guarantee the organization reaches the next round of funding. Venture capital firms need to see that not only is the company generating consistent revenue, but that there are leaders in place that can propel sales growth. From Seed to IPO, a Sales VP will be one of the most important hires you add to your team.
With all this in mind, the Vice President of Sales position has a bit of a narrower base salary range than many similar executive-level roles. We found an average of $215,000 to $275,000 with a median rate of $250,000 – typically only those being hired at Series D would see a starting bump in their pay band. However, total OTE is where Sales VPs achieve the best earning potential, as most qualify for bonuses of up to 100% of their base rate.
2. VP of Marketing
A VP of Marketing is usually brought in to help build and develop a team of marketers once the organization has grown enough, most typically for companies that have reached Series A or B. This is the point where organizations need to refine their brand and show how they stand out from competitors, as well as cast a wider net to turn prospects into customer accounts. It is important to find an experienced candidate that can provide leadership for the marketers under them and guide them towards scaling outreach up.
Base salary for a Vice President of Marketing can range anywhere from $220,000 to $300,000, though the median rate typically falls within $240,000 to $275,000. Bonuses range from 10% to 30% of base, with a healthy average rate of 20% to keep your VPs incentivized to maximize their output.
3. VP of People Ops
VP of People Ops is technically a human resource management position, but often focuses on the talent acquisition and employee engagement parts of the “people operations” job. That means that this role is usually in charge of building and developing culture starting from when employees are recruited, and is crucial to maintaining a high-performing team.
As this is a position that delivers the most value when the organization has expanded to a size that HR needs to be delegated (usually between Series A and B), Vice Presidents of People Ops will generally see a higher starting rate than some other VP roles. Base salary can range from $235,000 to $325,000 with the median band falling at $270,000 to $300,000. However, OTE is lower than what you would see with sales and marketing executives, starting at 5% and reaching 25% only for top earners at Series C and D firms.
4. VP of Finance
The VP of Finance fills a fairly straightforward yet interesting position in a technology startup – for lack of a CFO (more common in early-stage companies), they are the go-to leaders of accounting and financial management. However, it can be easy to overlook how vital this function is to ensuring growth, given that financial reporting will contribute directly to qualifying for the next funding round.
Vice Presidents of Finance, as a consequence of the factors outlined above, have fairly high-earning potential in the world of tech startups. Base salaries range from $225,000 to $350,000, with a median rate of $250,000 to $300,000. Bonuses go from 15% all the way up to 35%, giving VPs of Finance access to OTEs that rank on par with some C-level jobs.
5. VP of Product Management
A VP of Product of Management – sometimes just called a VP of Product – is in charge of the roadmap for a SaaS company’s solution offering, working as the driving force for platform innovation and strategy. They are responsible for ensuring that the product presents a clear vision for customers and investors to keep up growth.
Vice Presidents of Product Management see a wide salary range of $250,000 to $362,500, with a median rate of $270,000 to $300,000. Startup stage and performance, however, both greatly decide the earning potential of this role. OTE especially can vary significantly from Series A to C hires, where bonuses range from 5% to 20% on average, and are capped at 25% for top performers at Series D companies.
6. VP of Customer Success
Besides their counterparts in Sales, VPs of Customer Success are the most important leadership hire to focus on at early-stage SaaS orgs – the relationships you maintain with your existing customer accounts will always need to be a priority. This role will be directing your customer success manager (CSM) teams and have the big picture overview of how happy your customers are with product and service value.
Salaries for the Vice President of Customer Success job range from $220,000 to $280,000, with a narrower median rate at $230,000 to $265,000. Bonuses fall between 20% to 50%, and it is interesting to note that OTE can actually be higher for top performers recruited at earlier stages.
Compensation and Hiring Changes for 2024
It is important to note that we have seen external forces having an impact on some of these trends over the past year, and it is likely that 2024 will bring new developments. We have also seen shifts in the technology market as both companies and candidates adapt to changes in the industry, from the rise of AI to the increase in interim and fractional executives. Even the averages featured here can fluctuate down the line, so it is vital to stay on top of compensation trends to prepare for recruitment in the next year.
Recruiting the Right Executive Candidates with Betts
A shifting market can make it hard to scale hiring efficiently, since salary and benefits expectations will change again, and especially for top-performing-executive candidates who accept the risk of joining an early-stage startup in a leadership capacity. Betts has the answer to this challenge with a guaranteed way to ensure your recruiting drives remain scalable and cost-effective year-round.
Contact Betts today to see for yourself how we will help you optimize your talent acquisition and make sure you find the right VP candidates at the right time to hire.