Rather not negotiate your salary? Consider the data: it demonstrates that failing to negotiate your salary means you will have to work eight years longer to make the same amount as your counterparts who do negotiate. It also costs on average a half a million dollars in earnings by the age of 60. So while you may prefer to avoid a salary negotiation, these stark statistics should make you think twice.
Margaret A. Neale is an expert on negotiation, and as a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and creator of a popular negotiation seminar, she has seen first hand the consequences of not negotiating a salary. She found that a failure to negotiate your salary equates to $7,000 less on average over the next year of earnings. Year over year, this number adds up – it takes an extra 8 years to regain the lost income you would have earned sooner in your career. That’s eight years over the course of your working life that you are adding on to earn the same amount as someone who chooses to negotiate their salary. Put in these terms, the cost of not negotiating has significant effects.
As a salesperson, you might think that you will be great at negotiating your salary since this skill is required in many of your interactions with prospects. However, aligning salary and compensation expectations with your manager can be tricky for even the most seasoned negotiator. The salary negotiation is a high stake event not only for your own career path, but also because it sets the tone as the first interaction between you and your soon-to-be employer.
Here’s how to negotiate your salary to get the compensation plan you deserve:
1. Be Numbers Driven
To effectively enter a negotiation, enter the meeting knowing the standard industry compensation in your market. There are few instances where some simple research and preparation beforehand pays off as abundantly as in a salary negotiation. Conducting research and preparing beforehand pays off abundantly in a salary negotiation. It allows you to enter the negotiation with a clear understanding of the industry standard of compensation in your market.
Visit websites like PayScale.com, Salary.com, or Glassdoor.com. All offer insight into what past and current sales professionals with comparable roles earn. This will allow you to back up the numbers you are fighting for with statistics and give you a realistic range going in. Having a big picture idea of the market and the numbers to back you up will pay dividends in getting the compensation you want.
Speaking with recruiters is another great way to understand the most appropriate compensation you should be requesting. They can provide average industry compensation and because they are experts in the job market, they can provide more detailed market information as it relates to years experience, performance, and specific skill sets required by a certain position.
2. Be Thorough
When negotiating your salary, come to the table with a clear idea of what matters most in your compensation package. According to INC., 94 percent of sales professionals feel that base salary is the most important element of their compensation plan, while only 62 percent say that commission is most important. If base salary is number one, have a range that’s based on your research.
Here are other aspects of your compensation package other than salary you can negotiate:
3. Be Transparent
Negotiation of any kind can be contentious, but it doesn’t have to be. Be open with your numbers – right from the beginning of the conversation. There should be no surprises on the other side of the table in regards to how much you’re currently earning, and what you expect to earn in a new position. In sales, salary compensation is variable and heavily dependent on the scope of your role, years of experience, and relevant skill set. Employers understand that in order to attract top level talent, they need to pay accordingly – so be transparent about your salary and commission structure expectations from the beginning.
4. Be Inquisitive
Just as providing insightful answers is crucial to the interview process, asking strategic questions during salary negotiations also has an influence on your ultimate compensation package. If your plan will include a base with a commission contingent on meeting quota, ask questions such as:
- How many reps at the company are making their target income?
- What is the average sales rep earning?
- Is there a cap to the commission?
- Is there a bonus structure? If so, what are its components?
Establish clear parameters on what is actually negotiable in your compensation. Your job is to understand where there is flexibility with the package and where there isn’t. Some companies are unable to afford to offer a higher base, but have room to offer more vacation time, flexibility in your work schedule, and are even open to the job title of your position. Take the time to inquire. It not only creates a clear picture of what’s feasible, it also shows you are serious about the offer. This will allow you to consider the value of the overall package, not just the numbers.
5. Be Urgent
You want to be urgent during the negotiation. Be timely in your response to an offer. Responding to an offer quickly, even if it’s a counter offer, demonstrates that you are timeline oriented and committed to the role. Do your due diligence by considering all the information, but respond in a timely manner.
Often, one of the biggest mistakes recruiters witness at the end of the hiring process is candidates who have received an offer and take an undue amount of time to respond. It can make you appear flippant about the offer and spark doubt in your employer’s mind about your interest in the role. Avoid this by demonstrating urgency in the offer stage.
Negotiate Like a Pro
When negotiating your salary, do your research. Be thorough and evaluate the offer based on the value of the entire compensation package, not just the salary. Have transparency about what is most important to you in the offer. Make it a conversation by inquiring further and asking questions. Be timely and remember: this is one of the most important stages in the recruitment process that you can influence. Take full advantage of it.
Want more? Click here for the best ways to negotiate a higher base salary.
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