When it comes to preparing for a salary negotiation, it can be easy to feel like you are getting ready for a fight or at the very least, a heated debate. This may cause you to feel hesitant about even asking for the opportunity to negotiate a salary. The reality is in most cases, if you don’t ask for it, you won’t get what you think you are worth. Fortunately, a salary negotiation does not have to be as feared as you may think. We have placed 5,000+ salespeople in sales roles over the last 12 years and with this much exposure to salary negotiations, we have learned a thing or two about how you can best prepare. It is important to understand the career stage that you are in as this will influence your strategy for negotiating a salary. There are 5 common stages at which this occurs:
- When you are first accepting a job
- During a review (annually, semi-annually, etc)
- When you have been with a company for an extended period of time without a review
- When you are a consistent high achiever and feel as though you are underpaid
- You are being offered a higher salary from another company looking to headhunt you
You may have to tailor your approach based on the stage you are in. Luckily, we have compiled 5 tips that can be used at all career stages that will help you prepare for your next salary negotiation.
- Don’t go into the negotiation with a hostile mindset
Your employer is on the same team you are and in most cases their interests align with yours. Not only do they want to see you succeed as an employee, but a happy employee is better for the culture of their team. In order to approach a negotiation with the right attitude, it is important to understand what “negotiation” really means. It is not an argument or a debate, it is a discovery process in which you can learn about one another, their needs, their goals, and how you can help achieve them. It is important to enter the negotiation with an open mind and be collaborative. By treating a negotiation as more of discovery process, you will find it easier to compromise and reach an agreement that leaves both parties feeling satisfied.
- Do market research on relevant salary data
This is perhaps the most important step when preparing for a negotiation. After all, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. It is crucial that you have an understanding of what the market thinks you are worth. Do research on both salary trends within your organization and externally. Look at economic trends in your area and find out what the average salary is for someone in your position and level of experience. It is also worth it to gather salary information outside of your industry. Luckily for you, sales is a very transferable skill. Therefore, your skill set is in high demand across almost every industry, so know what you’re worth. To help you with your salary research, check out our salary guide that pulls real-time data to show the most updated salary averages across every industry and location. Use the information you gather in your research to determine the salary that you believe you are worth that is consistent with the market.
- Don’t just brag about how good you are, prove it
Although you may be a true sales rockstar, it takes more than just rhyming off all of your impressive accolades to be successful in a negotiation. In fact, chances are good that your employer already has a solid understanding about your performance. The best way to show proof of your performance is to present the holistic value that you bring to the company. Present your targets and not just whether or not you achieved them, but how you achieved them. Additionally, all good employees bring to the table more than just a revenue contribution. If you have done anything from a cultural perspective, it is worthwhile to present it as this further shows your commitment towards the company. Maybe you helped your colleagues with a really difficult task, or you were able to help them with a difficult client. These are all valid reasons why you deserve the number that you are asking for. Most importantly, you are a salesperson, so treat the negotiation like a sales process and sell your value to your employer. Do not spend more than 2 minutes bragging about yourself. Instead, focus on selling yourself as a solution. Use this planning guide created by Negotiation expert, Tony Perzow, to help you illustrate the goals of your employer, and the value you hold that can provide a means to achieving those goals.
- Your personal financial situation is not a selling tool
In order to maintain a professional demeanour, always refrain from using your personal financial situation as leverage for your salary bump. The salary that you are negotiating is based on your merit, experience and your overall worth as an asset to the company. Similarly, do not justify your salary because someone you work with makes more than you and you feel as though you are a better employee. The value you bring to your specific role based on the market price for your skill-set is what determines how much you should get paid. Your employer will gain respect for you and the number you are requesting if you keep your reasoning for your salary bump professional and relevant throughout the entire conversation.
- Show you are confident, even if you aren’t
The problem that many people face when going into a salary negotiation is that they don’t feel as though they hold any power. The reality is, if you are a rockstar salesperson, you possess a lot of power in this instance. Therefore, after you have done your market research and used the above planning guide to showcase your value, don’t be afraid to take a chance and reach a little higher for what you truly believe you are worth. As salespeople, we are often told “no” when we ask for a sale, so it is easy to become less confident when taking these types of risks. However, if you come prepared and are asking for a number that is realistic given what the market shows you are worth, then you should have an easier time throughout the negotiation process.
For more information on how you can best prepare for a salary negotiation, check out episode 8 and episode 9 of the Great Sales Leaders Know podcast featuring negotiation experts, Tony Perzow, and Fotini Iconomopoulos.
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