Salesforce salary negotiation
Company Guide
August 19, 2021

Salesforce Salary Negotiation - How to Maximize your Salesforce Offer

Salesforce is a great company with strong engineering talent. It's known to have a much better work-life balance compared to many of its peers in SF. Unfortunately, Salesforce pays below top of market, but they are willing to negotiate offers, which can help narrow the gap.

The goal of this guide is to equip you with the essential pieces of information you need for your upcoming Salesforce negotiation.  If you play your cards right, there is the potential for significant increases when negotiating. If your situation is unique or you want 1:1 support to ensure you maximize your compensation, please sign up for a free consultation with our negotiation team.

Negotiate Your Offer

Table of Contents

Salesforce Offer Compensation Components

Before starting any negotiation, it is critical you fully understand the compensation components offered. A typical job offer for a tech role at Salesforce (e.g. Software Engineering Member of Technical Staff) should contain the following monetary components:

This is what an example Salesforce MTS offer looks like over a 4-year period:

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Base Salary $180,000 $180,000 $180,000 $180,000
Signing Bonus $15,000
Salesforce RSUs $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000
Performance Bonus 10% 10% 10% 10%
Stock Refreshers N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total Compensation $238,000 $223,000 $223,000 $223,000

Salesforce Base Salary

Salesforce's base salary component is competitive relative to peers. For example, Salesforce MTS level is generally considered to sit between Facebook E3 and E4. Despite that, Salesforce's base for MTS ($155K-$180K) is slightly above the top of band number for Facebook E4.

As with most companies, Salesforce has a base salary band associated with each role/level/location. The size of the band increases with seniority - at junior levels it is quite narrow. It is certainly possible to negotiate this component, but the increase will typically be smaller than what is possible for the equity or signing bonus component.

Salesforce Signing Bonus

Not all Salesforce offers include a signing bonus by default. It's a common recruiter trick to leave it out of the initial offer. We have seen some cases of recruiters claiming that Salesforce does not offer sign-on bonuses, which is false.

For most technical roles at Salesforce, it is possible to negotiate a higher signing bonus even if it's not in your initial offer. The two most helpful pieces of leverage are 1) competing offers 2) retention bonuses or unvested equity at your current company.

Salesforce typically pays industry-average signing bonuses. Its top of band numbers are certainly not as high as Facebook’s, and they are also less willing to give out those top of band signing bonus numbers. We have heard of cases where Salesforce refuses to match a competing signing bonus even when it is within band, so it's important to handle this component of the negotiation properly.

Salesforce will clawback a portion of your signing bonus if you leave before the 1-year mark. However, this is normal for major tech companies, and they only require you to repay the pro rata amount. We've included the exact wording from a Salesforce offer letter below:

"In the event you voluntarily terminate your employment with the Company for any reason within one year after your employment start date, or the Company terminates your employment for Cause within one year after your employment start date, you agree to repay the Company, on the date of your termination, the pro rata amount of any hiring bonus paid to you pursuant to this paragraph, calculated based on the number of months and days you were in the Company’s employment".

Salesforce Equity - Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)

Your initial offer will include a dollar amount in equity. The dollar amount will be converted to a number of shares (RSUs) by using the average stock price over the two most recent calendar months. This is your initial grant which then vests (is received) in the next four years.

Salesforce, like many other big tech companies, vests equity evenly over 4 years. This means if you are granted $200K RSUs, you will receive the following:

  • Year 1: 25% ($50K)
  • Year 2: 25% ($50K)
  • Year 3: 25% ($50K)
  • Year 4: 25% ($50K)
Salesforce equity compensation

The most common vesting schedule for software engineers at Salesforce is to have vest dates every 3 months. However, for the first 25%, there is a 1-year cliff, meaning it fully vests at the end of your first year. Below we've included the wording from a Salesforce offer letter:

Salesforce stock package

As mentioned above, the actual amount of RSUs granted is determined by dividing the grant value by the trailing 2 month share price. To get a rough approximation, you can look at the average stock price over the past month.

Salesforce RSU value

Salesforce is typically willing to negotiate equity. However, compared to peers in the industry, equity bands are narrower and start much lower. MTS level in the Bay Area can range from $20K per year to $40K per year, whereas FB E4 is $100K per year.

Salesforce Performance Bonus

Performance bonuses at Salesforce are quite stable. While it is true that they are based on both your performance and the company's performance, the majority of engineers receive their target bonus each year.

Salesforce is also quite transparent about target bonuses for each role/level. For example, an MTS software engineer will be given a 10% target bonus.  At the Senior MTS level, the target bonus becomes 15% and it is 20% for roles above that. Salesforce pays out performance bonuses the following year. Here is the wording from a Salesforce offer letter:

Salesforce bonus structure

"In addition, you will be eligible to receive an annual discretionary bonus pursuant to the Company’s Gratitude Bonus Plan based on your individual performance, Company performance, and the Company’s funding formula. Your bonus target for the Company’s fiscal year (February 1 through January 31) shall be 10% of your base salary and will be paid according to the terms of the Gratitude Bonus Plan, which is subject to change at the Company’s discretion, and prorated accordingly for any fiscal year in which you do not work a full twelve months."

Salesforce target bonuses are generally in line with other major companies:

  • Associate MTS = 10%
  • MTS Salesforce = 10%
  • Senior MTS Salesforce = 15%
  • Lead MTS Salesforce = 15%
  • Principle MTS Salesforce = 20%
  • Architect Salesforce = 20%

This component is not negotiable, but it's important to include it in your total compensation when comparing to other offers, especially when comparing to companies like Amazon that are much less likely to pay performance bonuses.

Salesforce Stock Refreshers

For all levels below Lead MTS, the expectation is that you won't receive stock refreshers. This is different than many other tech companies where "Meets All Expectations" is enough to guarantee refreshers. It is possible to get refreshers at these levels, but you need to "Exceed Expectations" in your performance review. MTS employees who get refreshers typically receive ~$40K vested over 4-years. SMTS is only slightly higher at ~$55K vested over 4-years, whereas FB at the same level (E4) would be ~$100K for average performance. It is worth asking your recruiter for the range for your role/level, as some are willing to disclose that information.

You should factor in refreshers if you are comparing offers with another company that has them for "Meets All". This is a good additional point of leverage during a negotiation with Salesforce.

Industry Compensation Data

Rora has helped negotiate a wide range of offers at Salesforce. Candidates of course need to know the latest role-specific salary information like the Salesforce data scientist salary or the Salesforce product manager salary. However, it can also be useful to understand these salary trends at the industry level. Hence, we have complied our data for different roles setting the senior (L5) level as the benchmark.

Role (Senior – L5-equivalent level) Highest Offers in 2021
Software Engineer Salary $425K + $100K signing bonus
Product Manager Salary $370k + $75k signing bonus
Data Scientist Salary
$325k + $50k signing bonus
Technical Program Manager Salary $325k + $50k signing bonus
Product Designer Salary $315k + $40k signing bonus
Marketing Salary $260k + $40k signing bonus
User Experience Researcher Salary $255k + $40k signing bonus

Remember, the data points above are industry wide, not specific to Salesforce. There are many company specifics at play here and Salesforce unfortunately typically pays below market rates. However, for some roles like a Salesforce solution architect salary, comp will be closer to industry rates.

Salesforce Negotiation Process

Candidates often find it helpful to have a high-level overview of the negotiation process. However, this does vary by candidate, with one key vector being seniority. It's helpful to split into junior (Associate MTS to senior MTS) and senior levels (Lead MTS and above). Here is a quick overview of Salesforce software engineering levels:

Salesforce Levels

  • Associate MTS  → Google L3
  • MTS  → Google L3/L4
  • Senior MTS  → Google L4
  • Lead MTS  → Google L5
  • Principle MTS  → Google L5/L6
  • Architect → Google L6
  • Principal Architect → Google L7/L8
  • Distinguished Engineer → Google L8/L9

If you have not yet received an offer from Salesforce, there are a few critical mistakes to avoid:

  1. Do not share your current compensation. In many states (e.g. California) it is illegal for companies to ask this, so you are certainly within your rights to say "I do not feel comfortable sharing that information".
  2. Do not share your compensation expectations. It is in your best interest to deflect this question until Salesforce has extended an offer. It is certainly harmful to share a low number but sharing a very high number can also be a bad start to the negotiation as this will increase the likelihood that you are asked for proof of a competing offer. Instead, reply with something along the lines of "Right now I'm focused on the interview process and don't have a number in mind, but I'm confident we will be able to get to a number that works for both of us".

With that out of the way, let's discuss the process for Salesforce Associate MTS - Senior MTS salary negotiations.

  1. After finishing up your onsite, you will typically hear back from a recruiter within ~1 week. The Salesforce process is often a little slower than other companies and recruiters can take some time to respond.
  2. A recruiter will reach out to setup a call. Often saying something along the lines of "I have some exciting news to share". This is the offer call.
  3. On the offer call, the recruiter may push you for compensation expectations. But if properly deflected, at this level they are often willing to give an initial offer. It's become difficult recently to get initial offers at companies like Google, but we haven't had this issue with Salesforce.
  4. Salesforce does give deadlines with their offers, but they are generally willing to extend them. A good way to do this is to set up a call with the hiring manager to first ask questions about the team and second request a timeline extension.
  5. We recommend you take time to digest the initial offer and consider the best point of leverage for your counter offer discussion.
  6. The hiring manager does have some input when it comes to compensation and leveling at Salesforce. They are typically willing to communicate with and help candidates, but the majority of the process will still be between the recruiter and the comp committee. Your hiring manager is a great resource and we recommend setting up a call with them to build rapport before your counter offer.
  7. You will then setup your second call with the recruiter to discuss the offer. On that call you will disclose your counter offer. At this point if there was no initial deadline, they are likely to implement one. The recruiter will likely push back on your counter offer number. At Rora, we build a tree diagram unique to your situation with the most likely objections and the optimal responses to those objections. The goal is to get the recruiter to take your counter offer number back to the team to get approval. The recruiter will phrase it as they need to "negotiate" with their internal committee in order to get better numbers approved.
  8. Typically, you will hear back in a few days with their "final" offer, though if the numbers you are asking for are above band, it can take longer than that, sometimes over a week.

There are two primary differences between junior and senior negotiations at Salesforce:

  1. Senior employees are likely to see fewer pressure tactics compared to junior employees. For example, requests for competing offers in writing can be more easily deflected. Generally speaking, recruiters working with these candidates provide more of a white glove service.
  2. Recruiters will push you more to give them an initial number if you are more senior, rather than providing an offer. Given the importance of senior leaders and the wide range of the salary bands, they are typically hesitant to risk losing a candidate. This means the first number you provide is hugely important for anchoring the negotiation.

Salesforce-Specific Negotiation Advice

Here are some important pieces of information to keep in mind when negotiating your Salesforce compensation.

Willing to negotiate early

If Salesforce knows you are interviewing with other good companies like Google or Amazon, they are sometimes willing to give you an increase before you even finish those interviews. This is often combined with a request that you drop out of those processes. This can be a particularly useful strategy if you think these other offers are going to have lower comp (e.g. Google is going to down-level you).

Willing to up-level

Salesforce is typically receptive to up-levelling requests when presented with the right leverage. Of course interview performance has to be strong, but bringing up other opportunities that have larger scope or more senior titles is a great way to justify pushing for an uplevel.

Comp committee

At Salesforce, the compensation team is a group of analysts that increase offers based more on market factors. Also, it's worth noting that recruiters typically start getting (and giving) timeline pressure once they bring a request for a higher offer to the comp team. Make sure you are close to finishing other processes before initiating this.

Above band offers

Salesforce is almost never willing to go above band, even with leverage in the form of a competing offer or a promotion opportunity at your current workplace. The recruiter has to take competing offers and numbers to an internal committee in order to get new numbers approved. If your request for above band numbers is denied, there are still some options (e.g. looping in hiring manager, pushing for up-level, etc.), so definitely don't give up hope if this happens early in the negotiation.

Don't need competing offers in writing

Typically, Salesforce does not ask to see competing opportunities in writing, unlike Google which regularly requires it. This is helpful in situations where you don't have the official competing offer in writing. Almost all companies will ask for numbers in writing if you make an outlandish request (e.g. $1M in equity for Facebook E5).

Negotiate Your Offer

1:1 Salary Negotiation Support

We've negotiated more than $3M in Salesforce offers this year. Our largest Salesforce increase was $190K.

Negotiation strategy

Step 1 is defining the strategy, which often starts by helping you create leverage for your negotiation (e.g. setting up conversations with FAANG recruiters).

Negotiation anchor number

Step 2 we decide on anchor numbers and target numbers with the goal of securing a top of band offer, based on our internal verified data sets.

Negotiation execution plan

Step 3 we create custom scripts for each of your calls, practice multiple 1:1 mock negotiations, and join your recruiter calls to guide you via chat.