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5 min read

BEMO Publishes Its Salaries

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Part 1: How did we get here?

It was early 2019 at the time, and we were only three people working from our basements in Bellevue and Redmond, just trying to get our cybersecurity startup off the ground. At the time, we were shopping around for a bunch of tools we needed for sales.. As we were shopping around, everywhere we went online, every SaaS tool hid its pricing. You’d go to the PRICING page, and there literally wouldn’t be any pricing displayed except for a “call sales” button. How infuriating right?? So here you are submitting a form on different websites to be then taken around the bend, getting instantly spammed by their marketing, having to jump on a ton of sales calls, just to eventually, finally, get the price.

This is our ~villain~ origin story…

So, we made sure we had our pricing on our website and vowed not ever to waste someone’s time. Then we read They Ask, You Answer, TLDR the author owned a pool-building company and decided to start writing content on his website about pools, giving away all the information about how to build a pool, and showing his expertise, which then lead him in getting unlimited inbound leads.

Wow… giving away your secrets can lead to getting leads???

Quite literally after finishing the book, we went to the engineering team’s OneNote, copied the entire step-by-step implementation instructions for several of our projects, and loaded them into draft mode on our now blog. The others went bananas!

You’re going to share our secrets online for the world to see, that’s what people pay us for, they’ll just do it themselves!!! >:( >:(

What do we have to lose? It’s not like we had any leads anyway!

Here we were regurgitating what we had just read, ‘no, no, no, people are going to read it, realize they can’t do it themselves, and then call us’. Engineering thought we had lost our minds spreading this new-age marketing baloney! …so we hit publish >:)

3 months later, and a whole lot of us failing at mass emailing… we were getting 12 booked sales calls per month. Skeptics turned into converts! The transparency train was in motion… Even though pricing for our subscriptions was public, our professional services were a mess to quote… so we then took our public pricing a step further by using outgrow to create self-serve quote builders on our website. Now only 8 people per month booked a call with us, but nearly all of them would close because they had already qualified themselves and they just needed to talk to sign the paperwork.

We were hooked, what else could we make transparent?

Now that we had leads, we were hiring our first sales reps. Like most people do, we wrote up a job description and posted it on LinkedIn. We had so many super-qualified candidates, we were in love. We got to our final candidates, and now we talked about salary. Ohhhhhhh my… literally none of them were in our budget. Why had we wasted all this time talking to candidates whom we loved but could never afford? So, we restarted and added the salary to the job posting! – Instant results – and in more ways than one. First, people who didn’t like the salary expectations self-selected out, but second, and more interestingly, candidates mentioned they felt like they trusted us more because we made the salary public… and that was the point of no return! 2021 officially made Transparency one of BEMO’s core values.

Somehow during this time, we discovered Buffer and that’s when we began to really dream. Buffer published their revenue and google doc with everyone’s salaries!!! What radicals!!!! Who would commit such a brazen act? Was this even legal? HR was ok with that? Its people were ok with that?

It then took us 18 months for us to lay the groundwork for what is being published today (March 8th, 2023)


 

Part 2: Salary Transparency

Keeping salaries secret is one of the biggest distractions at work that can single-handedly resolve a whole lot of an organization's challenges before they become too big.

“Are men and women in the same role paid the same?”

“Are minorities or people of color in the same roles as white counterparts paid the same?”

“Am I making less than my colleague because I didn’t negotiate my salary?”

“Should I job hop or can I make more money if I stay and get promoted?”

“What does my boss make?”

“Is my CEO making millions of dollars while I make nothing?”

“Am I underpaid?”

These are all important questions, insecurities, and systemic societal issues that can be largely addressed via Salary Transparency, which is a simple fix. Will it fix everything wrong in society? Of course not. But every bit of progress helps! Each of these challenges adds distractions to the team, rightfully taking their focus away from building the business. And at <$10M ARR, a startup needs a relentless focus on building the core product and GTM engine, getting to predictability as soon as possible. And to achieve relentless focus, you need one main ingredient that is hard to B.S., and that’s “trust”. To achieve teamwork and “zero-voluntary attrition” over a long-time horizon, people need to trust that their teammates and managers are supporting them, that means everything from assuming good intent, paying well, offering stock options, being fair, giving people autonomy to make decisions, and communicating the good, bad, and the ugly of the business.

Pushing for Salary Transparency not only breeds “trust” into the DNA of the current team but also acts as a signaling mechanism for future job candidates to self-select themselves into our culture.

How Salary Transparency addresses the challenges written above:

Question Answer
Are men and women in the same role paid the same? Yes, regardless of gender, people at the same level for the same role are paid the same.
Are minorities or people of color in the same roles as their white counterparts paid the same? Yes, all people at the same level for the same role are paid the same.
Am I making less than my colleague because I didn't negotiate my salary? No, there are no negotiations.
Should I job hop or can I make more money if I stay and get promoted? Look up what your salary would be at the next "level" on the Salary Calculator.
What does my boss make? Look it up on the Salary Calculator.
Is my CEO making millions of dollars while I make nothing? No, the CEO makes $208,000.
Am I underpaid? Based on Carta's payroll data of 30,000+ startups, your salary is indexed to the median 50th percentile of the San Francisco market.

 

People who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. This can translate to increased productivity and better job satisfaction, which benefits everyone.

As you can see, as of a few days ago, we achieved an Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) of 82 across 34 participants. A high eNPS then leads to high Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT). 

 

In 2022, Nina’s Customer Success & Support org closed 6,209 out of 6,269 (99 percent) tickets, with CSAT scores ranging 90.4 to 97.1 percent per quarter. As you can see, by industry standards, we’re crushing in both categories, which means our customers are the net beneficiaries.

BEMO CSAT Scores 2022

Pay transparency can also help break down the stigma around discussing salaries. It encourages open and honest communication between colleagues, leading to a more supportive and collaborative work environment. Finally, pay transparency can help companies attract and retain top talent! Job seekers are more likely to want to work for a company that's open about pay and benefits. So, it's a win-win situation.

CSAT and NPS averages across industries

Transparency, one of BEMO’s core values, is an incredibly powerful tool, and we hope that sharing our approach to compensation can help everyone better understand our startup’s vision. If you go to our Salary Calculator page, you will find a quick explanation of our Salary Formula and our salaries benchmarking capabilities. At BEMO, we list the exact salary amount the given position will pay on day 1. BEMO is not a car dealership. There is no negotiation. You know it before interviewing, so we are as transparent as possible. You will only need to apply if the salary meets your expectations.

 

The journey is not over. It has just begun!

Implementing pay transparency can be complex, but it's a step toward creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace. And with the benefits it offers, it's definitely worth considering. Our Human Resources and Finance teams have taken 18 months of reading, planning, designing, and rolling out our new compensation framework.

We were successful (from our perspective) because others like Buffer and Basecamp before us published their learnings. Because of this, we avoided pitfalls and adapted our compensation philosophy to our culture and business needs.

It is our turn to share our journey with all of you and hopefully help you get successful as well. So, stay tuned for our upcoming blog on aligning compensation frameworks and career progression for maximum impact!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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