Four Steps to Nailing Your Salary Negotiation

Asking to be appropriately remunerated by your company or pitching the right price point for clients is tough. And, according to this New York Times article it’s even tougher for women. And to add some more salt to the wound, a recent Cass Business School study, has found that even when women do ask for a pay rise they are 25% less likely to get it. Pretty unfair huh?

But… (cue angelic voices and parting clouds) there is hope. Women can be as successful as men at negotiating when they are well-prepared and consciously address many unconscious bias that directly affect them.

Knowing all these challenges, we’re going a little deeper on this one with a two part series. Over the next two weeks, we’re sharing four detailed tips that will help you strategically and emotionally prepare to get the pay rise you so ultimately deserve.

1. Wealth is tied to Worth – to be wealthy you must feel worthy.

Whether we are conscious on this or not, our wealth is tied to our worth. We live in a society where we are regularly reminded directly and indirectly that what we can and can’t afford defines us. So the first step to thinking about negotiating your pay or setting your pricing is to check in with your self-worth. If you don’t truly believe you are worthy of this salary/pricepoint, your employer/client certainly won’t.

This is where your worth statement comes in. Your worth statement is designed to make you feel more worthy and to help silence your inner critic until you ultimately can’t hear your inner critic’s lack talk

Try practicing this statement, by reading it out loud (in the mirror if you can) until you no longer feel a deep reaction to it and you ultimately believe it. Believing you’re worthy will ultimately help you become more worthy. As a guide, if you can, try for this for 30 consecutive days and place it somewhere you will see it on a regularly basis. The mirror, the fridge, the bathroom, your bedside tables are all handy spots.

“I believe I am truly worthy of (insert pay rise/price point here) because I have the skills, experience, capabilities and talent reflective of this salary and/or price point. I am grateful for my previous experiences but now release any lack behaviour, knowing that I am good enough, I am capable and I am worthy.”

If you know or are conscious of some learned lack patterning you want to break, you can create your own statement. After all, you know yourself better than anyone else. Caveat: do not change this statement if it simply makes you uncomfortable.

2.     How to show you are worth it? Preparation = Success

Addressing your worth to attract the pay rise you want will give you internal confidence but you need evidence and examples to back it up. As Professor Dolly Gough from NYU Business School, notes: “Preparation is 70% of your negotiation success.”

When framing these conversations it’s important to prepare and leverage all available data to demonstrate that you’re performing above your current remit and/or your remit has expanded commanding a salary review. Or if you are providing a service, it’s that you are offering higher value or more value than was originally agreed upon. Here’s a few steps you can take to ensure you’re well-prepared and therefore 70% more likely to get what you want.

How to create your list:

1. Write down all the things you do/you are responsible for, literally everything.

If you’re struggling to be impartial and questioning yourself, write in the third-person or do this with your partner, a friend or even a colleague you trust.  You will soon find it much easier to be impartial and review your work with a much fairer lens.

2. Your Wins

Highlight 1-3 key wins in your areas where either you hit your KPIs or have gone beyond them. It you don’t have KPIs – describe how your work achieved a desired outcome or contributed to the company’s targets and/or strategy.

3. Then to Now

If you can find your original role profile or any emails/notes from meetings that speak to your current remit, compare these to your current list (created in step one) and highlight the differences. You will be surprised by how much more you’re doing, and not getting paid for.

4. Feedback and Champions

Save all your positive feedback either from clients/customers/vendors (if your role is external facing) or all internal stakeholders. If you can, get in the habit of asking for feedback so you have up-to-date data. Better yet, establish the right relationships to make internal stakeholders or clients your champions. Having people vouching for you make this process way easier.

5. Market Research

Do some market research on your salary and market rates. A lot of this information can be accessed via all the major recruitment firms. Talk to a headhunter or some of your peers at other companies. Being able to state your market rate (particularly if you are below it) is a powerful factual point.

6. Be clear on your currency.

Do you want a cash bonus, an increase in your base, equity (if applicable), more rewards or your company to pick up more of your expenses. Knowing your parameters before your conversation will help you stay on track.

3.     How to communicate you are worth it?

Selling your success shouldn’t be shied away from, but it’s a balance between sounding confident and sounding cocky, which is unfortunately and unfairly harder for women than men. Here are some key tips to help boost your confidence and sense check any air of cockiness that might arise.

  • Stick to your facts. Avoid long stories and elaborate use of adjectives. Knowing the facts about what you have done/delivered will give you confidence. Trying to dress them up is more likely to trip you up and see you approaching the uncomfortable/possibly too eager line.
  • Clock your body language – there is no need to be an ice queen but be position yourself in a confident stance, sitting upright while making clear and friendly eye-contact. Slow down, talk calmly and slowly. Check out the awesome Professor Amy Cuddy’s TED talkabout how to use body language to boost your confidence.
  • Silence is Golden – it’s hard but the best sales conversations are ones when you rarely sell, and therefore rarely speak. Try not to fill the silences. State your claim and let it sit. It will feel awkward – but it’s incredibly powerful. Watch it in action here with entrepreneur and self-made millionaire Marie Forleo.
  • Take your time – you don’t have to decide on the spot. If an offer is presented to you. Ask to think about it. Even if you know it’s the right offer, and you’re dying to say yes, take the time to get out of the environment and reflect. An opportunity to discuss the offer with others or just get clear is always a good thing. Sheryl Sandenberg has a great example of why taking your time during pay negotiations is a profitably idea. Especially, if negotiations are part of your role.
  • No is OK – don’t be afraid to say no if it’s not the right deal. Saying no can be a powerful tool to lead the negotiations, but you have to be prepared that by saying no, it could be the end of the conversation. If that is the risk you’re willing to take, then it’s a card worth playing. If this is a conversation about an internal pay rise or promotion, you can still say no or your company might say no first. Regardless, politely ask to have this request reviewed in three months and ask for feedback. It shows your commitment, gives you some data to action over the next three months and also, doesn’t burn bridges.

4.   Why do you want this pay rise? 

We could all do with more money, but why do you want this pay rise or this salary? What is this pay rise or your salary going to be used for? Or better yet, who is this salary for?

I recently had conversation with a coaching client of mine who knew she needed a pay rise but was finding it challenging to get comfortable with the concept. She kept promoting the team’s effort over hers and how her business unit’s success was a team effort. She was also devaluing her skills and contributions from fear of sounding demanding. While I don’t doubt the team effort, she enabled every step of it. And asking to be fairly remunerated for your work isn’t being demanding, but worrying about it and therefore ‘giving up early’ is an expensive mistake that should be avoided. Just ask Jennifer Lawrence.

This scenario is an unfortunately far more common for women. But we can change this. As Professor Maggie Neale from Stanford University has demonstrated, when women negotiate for themselves, they pitch $7,000 below that of what men pitch. But when women negotiate on behalf of others or their team, they are on par with men.

We therefore need to change the way we view ‘my’ salary and realise that it’s a collective resource, it’s actually an ‘our’ salary. The money that you earn, supports you, and in some cases your family. It allows you to pay bills, afford medical treatment, to learn via travel or studies, buy clothes, and food that nourishes your body and your family’s.

It is the social currency that allows you to feel supported and thereby be more present and less anxious in your life. So when you’re negotiating, it’s not because you’re greedy or selfish, you’re doing it to help you be a better version of you and in most family situations, support others.

When I stepped this concept through with my client, her face changed. I asked her, “What do you want the money for?” She paused, reflected and said, “So I don’t have to be so financially stressed and worried. So I can actually enjoy living my life.” Bingo. Here’s how you can have the same lightbulb moment and realise this process isn’t just for you.

Write the following statement and read aloud for 30 consecutive days. Especially on the day of your negotiations. 

“My job gives me the salary I need to help me be the best version of myself. My salary/this pay rise of [insert salary] allows me to live a happy, healthy and reduced stress life. This salary/payrise helps me support myself and [insert any family members, children, step-children, friends, partners, spouses, charities you donate to, anyone who receives benefit from you earning this money] by providing us with all we need and more. I am grateful for this salary in the same way I am grateful for the people it supports.”

With these four tips in your arsenal, go after that pay rise you so ultimately deserve. Because as you know, you are so worth it and are after it for all the right reasons.

Shelley Laslett