If you come to a negotiation table saying you have the final truth, that you know nothing but the truth and that is final, you will get nothing – Harri Holkeri
For most people negotiation is an uncomfortable deal. Yeah, let’s not sugarcoat it, negotiation is a tricky thing indeed. You will have to think on your feet, control your emotions, stay calm and confident, and formulate a strategy, sometimes all at the same time.
Some lucky people are born with the ability to negotiate well, as for the rest of us, we have to learn the tact and the art of negotiation one step at a time. The good news is, by repeatedly using the right techniques and tips it is possible to boost your skills.
Just like any other skill, taking smart steps and practice can take you a long way. Here are some such tips that will help you become a better negotiator:
1. Kick off with anecdotes
According to a study, the first 5 minutes of a negotiation is enough to predict the outcome of the negotiation.
These first few minutes are important because the other party is trying very hard to evaluate you. This is the time when you work on building trust. One of my favourite ways to do that is by offering an anecdote or previous examples of such negotiations where both the parties walked out happy.
You can say something like, ‘You know, a couple of months back we did a similar deal and it turned out very positively. I hope we can accomplish the same or even better results here. In case, you want to talk to the other party, here is their contact’. Put your business storytelling skill to use here. It is a casual yet impactful way to kick start the negotiation.
Another tip that can help is that try to read into the emotional state of the other person. Are they frustrated, nervous, happy, calm etc. It can give you insight into how you can handle the negotiation.
This is an extremely effective way to build trust.
2. Start higher than where you want to actually land
Anchoring is quite an effective technique used by many businessmen. This technique was proved to be effective to nudge your customers to buy more of your products, influencing people, and more.
This is the most basic tool you will need when walking into a negotiation. When experimenting with my startup, Hiver’s marketing outreach campaign, we ended up learning an important lesson – when we reach out to people we always ask for more, if we get a ‘no’, then we ask for the next best thing.
In our case, we have seen that when we dared to ask for more sometimes people did concede and when they didn’t, they were more ready to accept our second proposal. This is the same principle, I use for negotiations too.
Researchers too agree that starting high in a negotiation is the best way to go.
Even if you think that what you are asking for is ridiculously more than what you will be satisfied with, go ahead and do it because you are the only person who knows that.
But do take care not to ask something so ridiculous that you may end up offending the other person.
3. Be the first to talk
Always be the first one to express what you want from this deal. Why? Because it will allow you to set the standards of the negotiation and the expectations of the other party.
A study published by Harvard business school states that – if you make the first offer, you will tip the negotiation in your favour.
For example, let’s say you want to get 1000 points from a deal, if you are the first one to go, you can start at 2000 points and then may be lower down to 1000. But if the other person goes first and they say they are willing to give 100 points, it is almost next to impossible to rise them up to your desired 1000 points.
Also, making the first offer shows to the other part that you are a confident and determined person. That level of respect is needed from the other party to be able to reach a fair deal.
4. Create a sense of urgency
In business, time is very important, if the other party is going to drag out the negotiation, you may still win but at a huge opportunity cost. The goal should be to get favourable results faster. Creating an environment of urgency is the key to take the negotiation forward quickly.
Also, the more you make it seem like the offer will expire after a certain period of time, the more the other party will want it.
For example, in an e-commerce website when a customer sees the ‘sold out’ display in the options, it triggers a sense of urgency and so they are willing to buy the product that they picked sooner rather than later. All because they don’t want to lose the product to someone else.
This is how negotiation works too. But I always urge people to keep their manners in check when making offers like these.
Snobbish statements like ‘Look we have many people lined to make a deal with us, so be quick about it’ usually are a very bad way to go. Even if you win this deal using such methods, you will fail to build a long term relationship with the other party. Any far-sighted businessman knows arrogance is not a smart way to make good deals.
5. Take them by surprise
This is practical tip that is more applicable to everyday negotiations such as asking for a raise, having a talk with your boss about your hours etc.
Let’s say you want to ask your boss for a salary raise. If you call your boss and say that ‘Hey, I want to have a talk with you about my pay, let me know when is the best time to meet’, it certainly is a polite thing to do.
But, the problem is once you explicitly state the purpose of your talk to your boss, he/she is going to walk into the negotiation room with a battle armor, mentally prepared!
So you just made it much harder for yourself to persuade your boss.
Instead, if you casually drop by your boss’s cabin and ask him if he is free talk and casually slide down into your pay raise request, you have a better shot at winning. In this scenario, you haven’t created any tension before the talk itself and made it sound like a casual but important request.
Remember, with negotiations, tactful communication is the key.
No matter how much you hate negotiation, it is a tool you very much need. Not just for your professional life, but also for your personal life. Angry spouse, livid boss, business deals, buying from a street vendor, you name it, there are many times we need our negotiation skills to tackle a situation.
Like any skill, mastering the art of negotiation will take practice and commitment. That paired with the list of suggestions above can take you a long way.
‘The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts. And there was a considerable challenge to that here and understandably so.’
– Howard Baker
‘How do I Negotiate My First Salary?’ The Best 10 Salary Negotiation Tips for Recent Graduates
As a graduate, you may recoil from asking for a higher salary when negotiating your job offer because you’re afraid you’ll come off as greedy and demanding. You might also be scared of not having enough training and experience to justify a higher salary in the employer’s eyes.
Salary negotiations can be daunting. Especially when you’re a fresh-faced graduate with limited work experience or internships, and without negotiation training.
So how can you approach negotiating for a better salary?
You’re setting yourself up for failure if you go to an interview with insufficient research. When asked what kind of salary you want, when you aren’t prepared, you might give vague answers, leading to appearing unprepared and unsettled. The hiring manager may pick up on your discomfort.
To avoid faltering and hedging, it pays to do your homework. The research could be as easy as talking to a friend in the same industry. If your friend holds a similar position to the one you’re applying for, ask about their salary. You can be subtle by asking for a salary range instead of an exact figure.
Use sites like Glassdoor.com, Salary.com, and Payscale.com to check how well the company pays for that position. Also, check the typical salaries of competitors and other companies that hire for similar types of jobs.
You can also delve deeper into the company you’re interviewing with. For how long have the employers been looking to fill the position? Find out if the company has had recent layoffs. It may be unwise to ask for a large salary raise when the company has been making huge budget cuts. So, it’s important to base your expectations on what is reasonable.
Asses Your Value
Ask yourself, “What do I have to offer?” The most critical information hiring managers care about is your input into the company. Justify your salary increase with a satisfactory reason. Maybe you have post-graduate training relevant to the position, or you have transferable experience from a previous internship.
Find ways to explain what stands to make you one of the company’s most prized assets despite a potential lack of job experience. Show the recruiters the critical areas in the company that you can improve with your skill set, degree knowledge, fresh approach and personality traits which should not be underestimated.
It’s important not just to have your points prepared, but to rehearse them to perfection. While you want to appear natural when you speak, it’s important to know your arguments well to ensure this part of the interview runs smoothly.
When composing your salary negotiation speech, be concise and avoid the fluff. Make sure your salary request is brief, straight to the point, and delivered tactfully.
To increase your confidence for when the time comes, act out a simulation with a friend. Having a friend help you prepare can allow you to discover potential objections the employer might have. Simulating the interview allows you to create reasonable responses for each complaint.
Asking for an increase in salary is an act of confidence for a recent graduate. When well-executed, boldness shows you’re sure of your abilities and know the value that you’ll bring to the company. In many cases, the perception is that outstanding performers negotiate, and the poor performers don’t.
The secret to building confidence is to appear confident, even if you’re scared to death in the moment. The more you act confident, the more you begin to feel confident.
Fake It Until You Make It – Body Language Tips to Seem More Confident:
- Maintain an open posture. Lean in and listen actively
- Hold eye contact to avoid looking uneasy and anxious
- Ease the tension by smiling
- Fix your feet to the ground to show resolve
- Relax your body. Avoid fidgeting
- Speak slowly to project calmness and confidence
If you exude confidence, you’re more likely to leave a lasting impression on the recruiters. Your show of confidence through your body language could lead to your salary request being granted.
Avoid Making Demands
Sometimes the offer may be way too low for you. Feeling that you deserve better compensation, you might feel frustrated. In such a situation, it’s important to be positive. Aim to be persuasive but not too desperate. Use a calm but firm tone.
Too often, graduates make the mistake of framing requests to sound like ultimatums. When delivered poorly, a request for higher pay may come off as greedy or entitled.
Leverage on Your Past Experience
You probably have more relevant experience beyond your new academic qualification. Life experiences and supplementary courses such as professional licenses, military experience, on-the-job training, or sales training can add value to your resume.
Even the summer job you had in high school can boost your chances by showing you have a work history and work ethic. Use these past experiences to market your skill sets. Demonstrate to the recruiters how past experiences developed your skills and expertise.
Negotiate Perks and Benefits
For today’s graduates, the pay package is not always about the salary. Yes, more money is satisfying, but there’s a lot more to a job offer package than just cash. Explore if there are any:
- Relocation allowances
- Paid vacation days
- Flexible hours
- Tuition reimbursement
- Training opportunities
- Bonus schemes
Perks and benefits can mean you gain value by either saving money elsewhere or enjoying convenience and rewards. Find out what’s relevant to you, and consider if there’s room to negotiate these perks in your favor.
If you’re not happy with the working hours, then negotiate for more vacation days, fewer hours, or a day per week of working from home. Phrase your words well, or risk appearing uninspired and lazy for asking for more vacation time.
Ensure you back your requests up with reasoning. So, you might explain how working from home one or two days a week can increase your productivity as you will be spared a long commute on these days.
Be Prepared to Make a Compromise
Some companies only increase salaries of working employees and not recent graduates or other new employees.
In such a case, propose a semi-annual review instead of the annual surveys that most companies have. If the company is impressed by your work, they could consider you for an increase sooner than had you not requested a review to be brought forward.
Making a compromise can accomplish two things:
Gives the company enough time to review your work and time to get you up to speed with their demands.
Shows the recruiters you’re focused on advancing your career and confident in your skills.
Request for More Time
You’ve made your offer. You want a 7.5% increase, but the employers are only willing to offer 3%. You’re confused. It’s an increase, but it’s not exactly what you wanted. Do you accept or reject the lower offer?
Neither, at first. Whether you’re negotiating in person or by other communication, it’s important to ask for more time.
In reality, recruiters expect you to take a few days to think about the offer. Don’t be in a hurry. Think about your needs. Is the salary offered enough to fulfill your needs until the next annual or semi-annual review?
In some cases, the company needs to fill the position quickly. Maybe an employee quit unexpectedly, and normal work needs to resume. In such a case, don’t keep the recruiter waiting for too long. Still, ask for some time to avoid impulse decisions. Even 10 minutes in the hallway can work to clear your thoughts before committing.
Prepare for a “No”
You might use all the above steps well. The company might express the desire to hire you, but on terms you find unfavorable. You might even try to meet the interviewer in the middle and make them an alternative offer. Yet, the interviewer may still decline your request. It’s normal.
If you get a “no,” express your gratitude for the opportunity and be positive.
Look on the bright side. You have gained some additional experience in negotiating your salary. Keep in mind that the right company is out there. After all, you don’t want to toil in a job where you might feel undervalued for years.
Having an alternative can give you the courage to decline an unfavorable employment contract. Negotiation trainers refer to a best alternative to negotiated agreement (BATNA) as a way of lining up a backup plan. Some BATNAs you may have as a recent graduate may include:
- An option to go back to college for advanced studies
- An opportunity in academia rather than in corporate careers
- A family-owned business that can accommodate your skill sets
- A business plan to start your own venture
Even where you don’t have a ready alternative, submitting your job application to competing firms keeps your options open. Walking away from one offer can provide you a realistic figure on which to base your next salary negotiation.
Consider that the cost of living is rising every year and that each raise is calculated as a percentage of your previous salary. By negotiating for a higher starting salary, you’ll probably end up better off than your colleague who didn’t negotiate in just a few years.
After your first salary negotiation, you may get the confidence to negotiate more and more. You likely won’t accept a meager salary anymore, and you won’t work a job you don’t enjoy.
Salary negotiation can be more than how much money you take home. Negotiation may make the difference in what kind of on-the-job training you receive, how fast your career grows, and how much you enjoy your job. The salary for your first few roles usually determines your salary trajectory for the rest of your career.