ne·go·ti·ate: to deal or bargain with another or others, as in the preparation of a treaty or contract or in preliminaries to a business deal.
I learned from a young age that influencing people was an art. I attended thirteen schools before high school and as we moved across the country, I learned how to make friends fast. As the forever “new girl” I created interpersonal skills and a personality somewhere between people pleasing and highly influential. Unknowingly this skill set would benefit me throughout my career.
A good negotiator thinks about the other side and well as their own.
Always consider various options and move toward the most beneficial outcome for both parties. Tempting to force or intimidate, push or threaten, usually will end up in no deal. The goal is to land as close to win – win as you can get.
In preparation for my first job after post- grad, I received little advice on interviewing and negotiating, at that time I didn’t really grasp onto the power of negotiating. This new opportunity offered a significant increase from the educational position I moved from and in that excitement, I failed to test the waters of negotiating. The offer was solid and I was happy to start getting the experience I needed in an industry I was excited about.
This career change opened doors for me to gain the experience I needed with an extremely talented group of professionals. In my mind a win-win.
However, I will never forget my first performance review. I prepared and had my facts ready to go. I knew how much revenue I secured and what that meant for the company in residual compounded returns. I outlined the big deals. Then described how I managed my territory, what marketing and networking events I sponsored and attended. I had a strategic plan for the next quarter laid out and presented this in a professional manner.
I had my facts and figures in hand. I practiced how I would present this message with confidence and kept the company goals in line with my request.
My supervisor listened to my track record, probably laughing inside and agreed to my request. I walked out with a bonus and an annual increase. I was feeling good. I felt assured of my value at the company and only relied on facts to discuss a pay increase. Looking back, we were a young, savvy, tech company and didn’t have high salaried employees but the experience and success from that review gave me the confidence I needed to negotiate for myself in the future. In my mind a win-win.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to enter a negotiation with emotions and not facts.
If I had not taken the time to review my numbers, think about the outcome I wanted and asked the questions. I may have received a great review but not the compensation I wanted.
Sadly, I overheard someone grumble about working there for years and never receiving a raise. I thought to myself “Have you ever asked?” – the answer, guaranteed, would have been “no”.
This is where I find people slip. Men and women alike. You must understand how you contribute to the team and find the value in what you bring to the table. You have to know you are worth it. Then take that success and confidence and walk into the room with it.
Whether the room is a boardroom, office or a phone call, bring your A game.
If you are not good about talking yourself up, think about how you would do this for someone else. For instance, think about someone you have given a reference for or praised them on a great job. How would you negotiate for that person? Now do it for yourself.
We are always better speaking for someone else. Now use those words and speak for yourself.
Later in my career while I was working for Thomson Reuters, a large information technology company, I received a promotion and was asked to lead two product and sales teams covering North and South America. Not only was this more responsibility in a very tough market but these were two of the most stressful business acquisitions we had in our portfolio at the time. I remember negotiating for my salary. I had two of my VP’s on the phone. When it was over, my direct supervisor said he wanted me to negotiate for his salary next time. I felt good about the outcome, but thinking back it was still slightly less than the men in my same role. In my mind still a win.
That experience was not lost on me. I made efforts to equal the playing field moving forward. Men talk about money. Women, following the rules, usually do not. Now that’s a tricky battle but sites like glassdoor and others like it, provide an industry standard you can research. Then you ask. What’s the average range for this position? What do top performers take home? What are the benefits of your company that others may not offer? Never assume everyone on your team or at your level is making the same amount. They’re not. Everything is negotiated. Never go backwards.
Always stay current in your job market and keep your toes in the water. Keep your résumé updated, take a call, and listen to new opportunities.
You never know when you will need to negotiate your next role.
You can learn many great tactics to help you become a better negotiator. In our next podcast, we will outline some tangible ways to successfully tackle future negotiations both for yourself and your business.
Here are a few of my favorite books on Negotiating:
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