negotiating a sales job offer

11 Steps to Getting What You Want Out of a Sales Job Offer Negotiation

If you’re stressing out about negotiating a sales job offer, we’ve got you covered. Compensation shouldn’t be the only thing that matters but it’s important to be financially motivated in sales. Read on for 11 crucial tips and things to do before and during your sales job offer negotiation.

Before you start negotiating . . .

1. Get your offer on paper. Startup offers can be complex, particularly when it comes to equity incentives and commission structures. You’ll have an easier time understanding the offer when it’s in writing; you’ll also have a better idea of what changes you’d like to negotiate.

2. Research your realistic salary range. Find out the average base salary of sales professionals with your experience level. If the employer offers you less than that, you could add this to your talking points.

3. Figure out what your job priorities are. Chances are, you won’t get everything you ask for, especially if you have a lot of demands. So make a checklist that starts with your most important demands at the top. It should decrease in importance as you go down the list.

At the negotiation . . .

4. Talk up your skills and experience. When you’re negotiating, your future employer is evaluating whether you’re worth the extra money. Your client rolodex, familiarity with a particular product domain, and proven track record are assets you should emphasize.

5. Bring your W2. When you’re talking up your skills as a salesperson, your employer may want proof that you’re not exaggerating. Offer your earnings with your W2 if you think it’ll help; it provides hard evidence to back up your claims.

6. Take a collaborative, not combative, tone. A negotiation isn’t a battle: it’s a joint effort between you and your employer to find an offer that works for each of you. An adversarial tone will only alienate the employer; a collaborative tone reassures them that you’re both working towards the same goal. How do you do this, exactly? Whenever possible, use pronouns like “we” and “us” instead of “I” and “me.”

7. Negotiate each term independently. If you bring out all your demands right from the start, you’ll overwhelm the employer. Instead, dole out one demand at a time. Start with your biggest priorities: If your top requests get rejected, you can work your way down the list. You’re more likely to get something you want this way—there’s more pressure for the employer to compromise after saying having said “no” to something else already.

8. Make your requests more persuasive with smart rationalization. Here are successful rationales we’ve seen:

  • You need it. Need is a powerful negotiating tool. You can’t take a job that doesn’t meet your needs, especially in a city like New York, where the cost of living is so high.
  • You want it. Tell your possible future employer that earning your desired salary will motivate and excite you. The more motivated you are, the more sales you’ll make—it’s a win-win for you and the company.
  • It’s fair. If a term is non-standard or below industry benchmark, bring that up in your negotiation.

And don’t forget . . .

9. Emphasize that you value this opportunity. In a fierce negotiation, you need to remind the employer that you’re excited about the prospect of working with them. Otherwise, they’ll think you only care about the money. Sprinkle these reminders throughout tough conversations to reassure employers that, in spite of your demands, you’re still determined to be a part of their team.

10. Leverage your other opportunities. Don’t sell yourself short if you have other job offers or a good reason to stay at your current company. It’s okay to establish these alternatives up front, but don’t make up fake opportunities or counter offers. A simple phone call or email is all it takes to find out if you’re lying.

11. Know your value. You’ll be playing a key role in your employer’s success, and it benefits them to have their sales team excited about their earnings potential.

Jordan Wan

Founder & CEO of CloserIQ. Previously Sales Strategy & Management @ZocDoc, Head of Analytics @PayPerks and Trading Strategist @Bridgewater Associates. MIT Bachelor’s & Master’s in Computer Science. CFA Charterholder.