One question I frequently get asked is:
“What does a typical Pardot admin (or consultant, feeelancer, et. al) make?”
Now THERE’S a loaded question.
The Myth of the “Typical” Admin
Before we talk about dollars and cents, let’s disillusion ourselves of the concept of a typical admin. One of the crazy cool things about the Salesforce ecosystem is that people found their way to this community in a huge variety of ways.
We have developers. Stay-at-home moms. Creative and analytical marketers. People who just saw a need in their organizations and know how to GSD.
There isn’t really a “standard” background for an admin that I’ve seen. So it’s hard to draw a bullseye around a typical salary target.
Where I’ve Gone Wrong in the Past [Probably an Overshare, But Whatever]
I spent much of my early career worrying that I was excessively overpaid. This is ridiculous in retrospect. But I constantly thought to myself:
“You are so lucky to be here. Your boss is inflating your salary beyond what you’re worth so you can never leave. If you tried to ask for that much at your next company, you’d get laughed out of the room.“
But I did ask for that at my next company… and you know what, no one laughed.
Then I asked for more at the next company.
No one has batted a frickin eyelash. I wish I could holler at 22 year old Andrea at clue her into that fact.
I talked to the CEO of a much more established Pardot consultancy than mine the other day and asked him how he went about benchmarking rates. His answer?
“Ask for more each time until people start looking at you funny.”
Now that’s a rule of thumb I can live by.
The takeaway here is not trying to inflate rates or salaries — but to push yourself out of your comfort zone to advocate for compensation that reflects the value you’re bringing to the table.
Controversial Opinion: Pardot & Marketing Automation Salaries are Not Scientific
It’s comforting to think that if we put in the time, do great work, and are loyal to a company that our paychecks will reflect that via some magic secret formula. But that is rarely the case.
Most organizations aren’t all that strategic about how they compensate employees. They’re businesses run by human beings that are trying to move the needle on results and get from Point A to Point B while turning a modest profit.
If your organization is the exception, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. But more often than not, I’ve found that salaries are largely determined by:
a) how much the person in the job before you was making
b) how much you made at your last job
c) how hard you’re willing to advocate for yourself in salary negotiations.
Okay, But What About Salary Benchmarking Data?
These don’t have great information on some of the newer marketing roles/titles like marketing operations, demand generation, or marketing automation. A few niche resources – albeit with a smaller dataset – include Mondo, Mason Frank, and the Creative Group.
Fair warning: these will show you wildly different results. My takeaway, after looking through these sites, is that most Pardot and email marketing experts make between $35K and $152K. No seriously, that’s the range in numbers I found.
Fair warning #2: if you bring these up to your HR person, they will probably roll their eyes.
If you can’t tell, my opinion of these data sources isn’t super high.
Should You Ask for More Money?
If you’re reading this post because you’re wondering if you should ask for a raise, my answer to 85%+ of you would be yes. Again — one thing I wish someone would have told me earlier in my career is that for many companies, salaries are a little arbitrary.
Exceptions: the government, with pay bands and all sorts of bureaucratic controls. Circus performers. Lemonade stand operators. There might be some true rate standardization there.
How Do You Get a Higher Rate or Salary as a Pardot Pro?
I have 5 suggestions if you’re looking to grow your income and are seeking some practical advice:
1) Advocate for yourself
No one is going to go to bat for your wallet if you’re not willing to. The first step to getting what you want is asking for it. Don’t hint at it. Don’t imply it.
Open your mouth and ask for what you want. You’re going to feel awkward. Acknowledge it — say to yourselfL
“Yep, I‘m the most awkward person that has ever lived.“
And let it ride.
It’s scary, it sucks… but it’s worth it.
2) Don’t talk yourself out of it before they can
Once you’ve made your ask, zip your lips and let the tension sit.
It’s so tempting to want to break the silence, to find a way to soften your request or justify what you want.
“Well I know that I’ve only been here for X years, so…”
“I realize your budget is tight.”
“But that’s negotiable.”
“I’m really doing this for the experience.“
If your boss or whoever you’re negotiating with wants to find a compromise, let them start that conversation – don’t start it for them!
3) Own your experience
If you’re good at your job, OWN IT. Look at the data points around you.
What projects are you proud of? What skills do you bring to the table? What have you learned in the past year?
Give yourself some credit, and lose that impostor syndrome.
4) Believe in abundance
The best negotiation tool is walkaway power.
If you’ve got Salesforce and Pardot chops, go into salary discussions knowing that you have a very in-demand skillset and that hundreds of companies would consider themselves lucky to have you. It’s hard to feel confident in that sometimes, but it’s true.
If you can adopt an abundance mindset and treat financial negotiations like they’re a game, the odds of you winning that game skyrocket.
5) Pay it forward
This last suggestion is more of a long term play. But building on the theme of abundance – one of the best ways to grow your own career is to help other people grow theirs.
Take time to get coffee with that student that reaches out to you on Linkedin. Share a cool solution you built at your local Pardot User Group or community event. Hug your competitiors, because this isn’t a zero sum game and there are so many cool problems for us all to solve.
The Bottom Line: It’s Not Super Consistent, So it is What You Make it
The TL;DR of it all: be brave, be real, be generous.
If you work hard, you’ve earned some awesome skills, and you get stuff done – you deserve to be compensated fairly for that. There may not be clean averages or datasets to “prove“ what you should make with mathematical certainty, so it’s up to you to ask for what you what.
If you’re an employer… we know you’re trying to stick to a budget and grow a team to make a difference for your clients. Keep in mind how in-demand your Pardot resources are and show them some love (both in monetary and non-monetary ways.)
This is one of my longest posts yet, so thank you if you’ve hung in here with me. I’d love to know what you think – what are your suggestions for setting salaries or approaching negotiations? What insights or surprises have you come across in your career?
Please share with your fellow readers in the comments!