Salary Negotiation Tactics – 6 Practical Tips

I firmly believe no matter what the circumstance is for your initial job offer, you should negotiate for more (as long as you do it right)! It does not matter whether the economy is booming or not, once you get a job offer – negotiate.

Just two months ago, a friend got an 20% increase in his contractor rate after he negotiated. In this case, his client low-balled him as many would do during the recession because it’s an employer’s market. Many people are so thankful that they were offered anything that they forget to ask for a fair compensation. It’s still smart and okay to negotiate even in a tough market.

Here are four salary negotiation tactics that have worked for me and my clients over and over again. There are also two tips on what not to do during salary negotiation. Being tactful is key.

Four salary negotiation tactics

  1. Be creative with what you negotiate. Your compensation is much more than just salary. There is also signing bonus, performance bonus, moving expenses, car stipend (if you have to drive far for work), 401K matching, title, vacation time, or pay grade. For example, even if the company can’t pay you a good salary now because of caps set in place due to the economy, if you have a higher pay grade setting, then your future salary and increase could be higher.
  2. Be specific and reasonable - tell the company what you actually want (a 10% increase, a guaranteed 5% bonus based on performance, a VP title, etc…) and make sure it’s not ridiculous. I was hiring someone who actually asked for 30% more in her salary when I know she was already getting a 15% increase from her last salary. We almost rescinded her offer.
  3. Tell them at least one and preferable two plausible reasons why you are negotiating for more. It’s no good and could even be offensive if you just said you want more money and can’t say why. Some good reasons are:
    1. you have a better offer (whether you want to bluff about this is up to you as just like Poker, there is a chance they won’t call you on it);
    2. your market rate is higher (meaning the average paying rate right now for this level is X% higher than your offer);
    3. your current offer is a big step down from past compensation;
    4. sometimes the sympathy card could even work and say “I have a new baby and I am just trying to make sure I can get by and 10% more could really help!” You would be surprised at what you can leave on the table if you don’t ask.
  4. Express your enthusiasm to work for the company when negotiating. No employers wants to give you more unless they know that you are almost certain to take it if they agreed. Also, it doesn’t hurt to convey that you have very good reasons (other than compensation) why you want to work for the company.

Two things to avoid during salary negotiation

  1. Don’t ever give an ultimatum – or anything that could be construed as an ultimatum. Salary negotiation is an art form and takes practice. Don’t ever back yourself into a corner because you most likely still want to take the job if they said no.
  2. Don’t be arrogant or an a__ when negotiating: Remember the person you are negotiating with is mostly likely your future boss or someone who can influence your future boss’ opinion of you. This salary negotiation should be a good experience for both sides

More people have been surprised at what they can get when they used the right salary negotiation tactics. It doesn’t hurt to ask if you do it right. With that said, there is no guarantee anything will change with your offer. If the company declines your proposal, be sure to thank them for their consideration and make your decision on whether to join based on existing offer. Either way, you would have gained more experience on how to approach negotiation in the future. We will change jobs many times in our careers. The experience you gain in mastering these salary negotiation tactics will pay off again and again in the future.

Good luck out there! I am always in your corner

- Lei

How to Ensure Your Presentation is Perfectly Balanced

Balancing Your Presentations

I’m going to show my age here but do any of you remember the singer Val Doonican? He would always wear big cuddly jumpers and sit on a three legged stool with his guitar on his leg.

Now if I were sitting on his stool right now about to present, I would hope that the three legs are firm, secure and of the same length.

Otherwise the stool will collapse and I’ll bomb.

Now when you’re presenting, imagine that you have to sit on this stool for the entire session. I bet you hope that your stool is robust enough to carry you through. So let’s get this stool robust enough.

You see the three legs of the stool must be perfectly balanced otherwise the presentation will fail. Full stop.

Leg one is the objectives of your presentation, leg two is the time and leg three, your audience. Are they in balance is the question to ask yourself before every presentation.

Objectives
Onto leg number one – the objectives should be clear. You’ve probably heard of SMART objectives, which is a very useful acronym on how to structure any business objective but what I want you to do is to switch the focus. Away from you and to your audience, who are actually more important than you. It’s not what you want to achieve…it’s what the audience want to get out of listening to you talk.

My experience has shown that business presentation audiences want to do one of three things. As a result of listening to you, they want to:

  • Be able to do something, or
  • Understand something, or
  • Agree to do something.

Naturally your talk might want to help them do a few of these objectives but you do have to be very careful in not trying to achieve too much. The last objective, agree to do something, might only happen if an earlier understanding objective is achieved and it’s highly unlikely you’ll get the whole audience to commit to do something.

Audience
Leg number two is the audience. The audience is king, and should be put up there on the throne. How much time to you spend researching your audience:

  • Who they are?
  • Why are they attending?
  • What time of day is it going to be?
  • What knowledge do they already have?
  • What attitudes and beliefs do they have?
  • How many of them are there?
  • What’s their background

And so on. Really focus on your audience.

Time
And finally leg number three, time. How long do you have to talk? Seems quite simple really but this one can jeopardise the other legs quite quickly. One of the biggest mistakes presenters make (and myself included here) is to try and achieve more objectives than can be achieved in the time available. We end up rushing, trying to get our audience to take on more than the magic three points, lose our real purpose and often overrun, which is unforgivable.

Let me give you an example. If some one fixes the audience, the time and the objective, you’re usually on a hiding for nothing. Some years ago I was asked by a sales director to address his entire sales team on how to negotiate client fees effectively. The venue was a smart hotel and the event was their annual sales conference.

The audience numbered over 100 and the time I was allowed was 30 minutes, and that was assuming the person before me didn’t over-run (and they always do). Now this was impossible to achieve in 30 minutes and if I went ahead as requested I would have bombed. Instead, thankfully, we negotiated the objective and dumbed it right down. We also arranged for further workshops to address the remaining objectives with less than 12 people per workshop.

Next time you’re planning a business presentation, before you jump head first into PowerPoint, stop and think of your stool. Are the legs strong enough and in balance to support your presentation?

Think back to the singer Val Doonican, if any of his legs were shorter or a bit wobbly, poor old Val would have come a cropper right in the middle of his song. Now that would have been a great shame wouldn’t it?

Making a Presentation? It’s Not Just About Your Topic

Jerry Seinfeld once quipped, “At a funeral most people would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.” Over 41% of people have this fear of speaking in public – that is, giving a speech, report, or presentation. This can be at a business, in an academic setting, in church, your office, or in any organization to which you belong. But there are times when no matter how you feel about it, you have to do it – period.

Most people feel that once they can control their anxiety about speaking – their racing heart, hyperventilation, sweating, or shaking, they are all set to present. Of course, you need to address your anxiety first because you have to be calm, comfortable, and present with your audience. But that is not the most important thing on which you have to focus. You are going to have to know more for your presentation than just your subject.

You are going to have to know who your audience is, why they are there, and what they are likely to expect from you.

You can use the following checklist to see that you are presenting what they need and want to hear in a way that is most understandable and useful to them to meet their needs.

1. Who is your audience? You need to consider what is relevant (age, generation, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic group).

2. Why are they there to listen to you? Are they just interested in the topic; are they seeking help; do they want to learn something new to add to their working knowledge base; or have they been told to be there?

3. How much do they already know about the subject? What is their information base, their education level, professional level, or experience – personal or work?

4. What are their general and specific goals in listening to you? Are they personal or work-related?

5. Do they have a current problem (personal or work) that they are hoping you can help them solve? If they do, this should be your primary focus. Knowing and understanding this, you can provide them with necessary information to help motivate them to act on their problem.

6. What is it in concrete, specific terms you are going to offer them? Is it facts, useful action-oriented techniques, new relevant how-to information, perspective, reassurance, support, advice, or feedback?

7. What specifically do you personally want to achieve through this presentation?

8. What role or attitude will give you the best chance of making a successful presentation? Are you there to act as a Teacher, Enlightener, Analyst, Expert, Advisor, Supporter, Problem Solver, Inspirer, or Guide?

Following this checklist will help you scope what you are going to do so you can tailor your presentation to the needs and wants of your audience, as well as enhance your credibility and visibility in the process.