Salary Negotiations in 3 Easy Steps

Congratulations. You received an offer from one of your target companies! You aced the interviews, the chemistry between you and your soon-to-be boss is solid, and you are passionate about the company’s products and services. Now take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back. It has probably taken you a few months to reach this point in your job search – savor the moment!

Ok, time’s up!

Now it’s time to negotiate a compensation package that is competitive, meets your financial needs, and falls within the company’s budget. And you thought the hard part was over! Salary negotiation is difficult, but once mastered, will take your earning power to new heights. Here are the first 3 steps to increase the likelihood of securing a competitive salary.

Step 1 – Research and spend time gathering comparable numbers. Think of salary negotiation like buying a house – you wouldn’t make an offer unless you knew what similar houses in the same area were selling for. Your salary is no different. Ideal sources include other open positions, colleagues who are in a comparable role, compensation consultants and recruiters.

Sometimes it can be difficult to get an “apples to apples” comparison since the composition may be different from company to company. As an example, we have a client that is offering a base salary that is 20% below market, however their bonus structure is 30% above market. The key is to consider the entire package, and then break out each piece (base, bonus, equity, benefits, car, commute, on-site perks, expense account, etc.). If possible, also connect with current or former employees of your new employer to learn more about the company’s negotiation practices. Some companies extend an offer at the high end of their internal range, making it clear that they are unable to negotiate. Conversely, other businesses prefer going the “low-ball” route, expecting the candidate to negotiate a higher package.

Step 2 – Calculate your “3 Numbers” – your dream number, your walk-away number and your comfort number. In other words, know exactly what would compel you to accept the job on the spot. At the other end of the spectrum, what number would be so insulting or ridiculous that it would drive you to walk away without ever looking back! This walk-away number is equally important post-negotiation, as you work to develop a compromise offer. If they are not willing or able to accommodate your financial needs, then they may not appreciate your value and the position probably isn’t a good fit for you.

Hopefully, you’ve discussed some ballpark numbers during the interviewing process to eliminate any surprises, but it’s important to be prepared for anything. It is also during this step that you want to weigh the pros and cons of the position. Consider everything including, your daily commute, the people you would be working with, your potential boss, the business model, and the opportunity for advancement. If you don’t do it now when the level of emotion is low, it will be very difficult to do it after the offer it made. Money changes things and you don’t want to deviate from your “ideal job criteria.”

Step 3 – Don’t make the first move. If you’re asked to provide a target salary, offer a range rather than a specific figure. Do not state your salary goal while other candidates are still being considered. Ideally, the company will make the initial salary offer so you can negotiate in confidence knowing they want you on board.

Generally speaking, the company will allow 10%-20% of “wiggle room” depending on the candidate’s specific qualifications and the level of the position. This is especially true for sales, marketing and general management positions that will directly affect the top and bottom line. In fact, most employers expect to negotiate salaries for these types of positions. As a result, you’re final salary will likely wind up somewhere between your counter and the company’s original offer.

Remember, you must maintain a positive attitude throughout the salary negotiation process. Continue to demonstrate your excitement and enthusiasm for the position even if things don’t go exactly as you planned. After all, assuming you come to an agreement, you will be working alongside the very same people you negotiated with. It’s important that you start out on the right foot.

In Part II, we will talk about the art of dialoguing, sticking to your decision and keeping the door open at all times.

Contact Ken C. Schmitt at [email protected] for additional insights

Negotiating – Recognizing a “No Win”

While I firmly believe that “everything in life is negotiable”, I would have to admit that there are some situations that are just plain “no win.” To illustrate this point, let me describe a situation that arises in my home periodically, and one that I certainly do not look forward to or enjoy. It just doesn’t seem to follow any rules, or any of the lessons I’ve learned at the negotiating table. In fact, the situation is one, where I hate to admit it, but I am still at a loss to negotiate successfully. This is a negotiation that I refer to as “damned if you do; damned if you don’t!”

I’ve known my wife for almost forty years, and every time she tells me that she is going to a new hair stylist or that she is going to try a new hair style, I feel like running away from home. It is the one situation that I have determined has no correct answer and is non-negotiable.

Here’s what happens. My wife goes out and gets a new hairstyle. She cannot wait to return home and ask me the dreaded question, “Honey, how do you like my new hairdo?”

Think about it for a minute. There is no correct answer to that question. You may or may not take the time to look up from the sports channel you are watching on TV and say something like, “Wow, I really like that” or “You look terrific!” The response you’ll probably get will be something like, “What was wrong with my old hairstyle?” Maybe you’ll even get speech number 23 which goes something like, “Well, if my old hairstyle was so bad, why didn’t you say something before?”

On the other hand, if you take a minute to focus on the new hairstyle before committing to a well thought out compliment, it’s likely to be interpreted as a loss for words. And, that translates to “You really hate it don’t you?”

In my mind, the question, “Honey, how do you like my new hairdo?” is a “no win” negotiation for men. Fortunately for me, it has become somewhat of a joke in our household. Now when my wife goes out to get her hair done, I usually just run in the closet and hide just before she arrives home.

Lesson learned: While everything in life may be negotiable, there are some “no win” situations that you need to recognize before you get in too deep.

The Missing Ingredient in All Sales Presentations

There is one critical ingredient that is missing in almost every sales presentation that will be given today by tens of thousands of salespeople worldwide. What is it? Tension management. What is tension management?

There are two factors in tension management that determines whether a prospect buys or doesn’t buy. They are simply resources and challenges. If their resources are high or if they believe they are and their challenges are low, or they believe they are they will NOT buy. Why? Don’t need it, everything is just fine the way it is. No need to change. They are in what we call apathy. This is the “do nothing” phase.

However, if their resources, or their perceived resources are low and their challenges or perceived challenges are low they will buy but most like for the wrong reasons therefore opening the door for a cancelled sale or unhappy customer. You see they are in what we refer to as stress and stress is the panic stage.

So, where do you want your prospect so they will buy and be happy they did? The key factor is to know where they are on the tension scale. There are 5 layers; stress, power stress, power, power apathy and apathy. If your prospect is in apathy you need to do one or both of the following. You need to show them where their resources are inadequate for the challenges they face so you can move them up the scale to Power Stress – this is where people buy.

If they are in stress, you need to show them how your products or services will reduce their challenges and increase their resources so you can move them down to Power Stress.

If this all sounds confusing, it’s really quite simple.
1) Identify which tension level your prospect is in with good questions then
2) Move them either up or down the scale by managing their awareness of their challenges and resources.

Yes, there is more to it but this gives you the essence. Basically what all prospects want is control and if they feel in control they won’t buy unless you can show them where they are out of control – playing with their resources and challenges. If they feel out of control they will tend to be more interested in what you have to offer as long as you can identify their level of tension and then manage it accordingly.