How to Negotiate a Win-Win Salary

You get what you Negotiate!

Many were the times I dreaded mentioning what I wanted for a salary during a job interview.  I didn’t know what to say:  was I asking for too little or too much?  Who did I think I was for asking X amount of money?  Was I worth it?  Did I even believe in my capabilities?  Or did my need to get a job put me at the mercy of accepting whatever the recruiter offered?

You might be facing the same feelings, especially if English is your second language – which was my case when I first looked for a professional job in Canada about 20 years ago. 

Being a person who is eager to overcome any challenge that comes into my life, I learned the skill of Negotiation.  I had enough experience, made many mistakes, and was committed to help others who might have felt the same way, or would have to face a similar situation.  By studying, learning and teaching the process used by Human Resources recruitment experts,  I was able to offer my negotiation skills as part of a service for my future clients.

In a nutshell, below are 6 Steps I have applied to negotiate a Win-Win salary and/or Consultant Fee.  But before we go any further … a little story.

I was attending a workshop (Effective Communication for the Workplace) and just as everyone was leaving the room, someone I had connected with during the two-days approached me and asked:  “Do you speak Spanish?”  “Yes”, I responded.   “Well, I know a lady who is looking for a trainer who speaks Spanish to go to Argentina & Bolivia to deliver some leadership courses.  Would you be interested?”.  “Of course!” I replied with enthusiasm, “How can I get in touch with her?” and she went on to provide me her details.

One thing I learned early in life is opportunities come and go everyday, we simply need to be aware and take action on them, so  I thanked her for the information and made the appointment the same day.  I was MENTALLY prepared to work as a consultant, so the automatic response was to take action.

I emphasize MENTALLY PREPARED because this is where we create, what appear to be Miracles.

To make the story short, about a year later, the lady who hired me pulled me into her office and said, in a nice but somewhat baffled tone,  “I don’t remember how I hired you but I’m glad I did”.   You see, at the time I was hired, she didn’t  ask for my resume, references or proof of my previous work.   In fact I didn’t even have a formal interview.  When I met this lady we spoke for less than 10 minutes and she was already arranging all the training I needed to take to get up to speed and arranging my travel to South America for the weeks to come.

Here’s what I learned, through my experience, to negotiate a win win salary and or Consultant Fee:

Step #1 - Have the RIGHT MINDSET

What are your thoughts and feelings when you have to negotiate?  Are they fearful or do you think this is my time to create a win-win relationship.  You need to be clear about your needs, your strengths, what you have to offer, the benefits you bring to the company and the value you provide to everyone who experiences your services.

Many consultants approach a company with the mindset of, “ I hope they hire my services”.  This calls for a win-lose relationship where you lose.  The opposite is also true, “the company needs me and they will pay whatever I ask for”.  This is an aggressive position and will be noticed.  It creates a lose-win situation for the company.

From my experience, applying the WIN-WIN Mindset has been one of my most successful avenues I’ve used while negotiating at any level.

When you understand that every result you desire, everything you see in the material world is first created in the Mental world (Stephen Covey’s Habit #2 from his best selling book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, you begin to take care of this step CONSCIOUSLY (prepare your mindset) before you do anything -  including negotiating your salary.

Now that you have the right mindset, you can complement it with the following steps to enhance your negotiating skills.

Step # 2 – Know what you REALLY want

“We don’t get what we deserve. We get what we Negotiate”.    Can you remember a time when you left a negotiation thinking, why didn’t I ask for more? 

Here is where knowing your Needs is crucial.  One of the biggest blocks people bring to a negotiation situation, like a job interview, is ‘not knowing what you want’.   This creates confusion and when there is no clarity, the other party can offer you whatever they want and you do not have a benchmark to evaluate against.  You need to do the leg work required to be clear as to what would be the minimum salary you will take, what are the benefits, perks, and so on.   I could say that being unclear of your personal needs is one of the biggest obstacles to creating a Win-Win negotiation.  How do you know you have won?  Remember, this is about both parties winning.  

Step #3.  Know the other party you are dealing with

Learn as much as possible about who you are negotiating with;  what they want, their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes.   The more you know about the other party, the easier it is to create a Win-Win negotiation – which is the desired result.   As a side note:  Do some research as to what the industry is paying.

Step #4.  Consider the impact of timing and method of negotiation

Whenever possible, negotiate face to face.  It is easier to say NO over the telephone and in writing.  

Connecting with someone personally cannot be replaced by anything.   This way we can sense the persons’ feelings, reactions, question, concerns - I recommend it to create a positive connection from the  very start.   One recommendation is to take the time to create rapport either by asking questions, commenting on something you observe or creating a common ground with the other party.  Remember, a Negotiation is an opportunity to get to know the other person and create a connection.

Step #5.  Get comfortable with silence

Often negotiators feel compelled to jump in with arguments and comments each time there is a pause in the interaction.  Practice holding back on comments and responses.   Silence can be a very powerful negotiation tool.   Give time for the other party to digest the information and to connect.

Step #6.  Close all negotiations by clearly outlining agreement

When agreement or conclusions have been reached and you are ready to end your negotiation, review the agreement to ensure nothing has been missed.  Then, end your negotiation on a positive note, commending those involved and emphasizing the progress made.

When you come out of a Win-Win Negotiation, I can assure you, it is more an opportunity to begin a new relationship and connection than to have an either feeling of winning or losing.

In summary,  when negotiating a Salary or a Consulting Fee follow these steps:

1.  Prepare yourself Mentality to create a win-win outcome.

2.  Know  what you really want - your Needs.

3.  Know what the other party wants (company, business partner, associate, etc.) - their Needs - Do some research as to what the industry is paying.

4.  Choose to negotiate in person as much as possible.

5.  Get comfortable with Silence.

6.  Clearly state your agreement (avoid lack of clarity), as the negotiation comes to an end.

Apply these simple steps and improve your opportunity to get what you negotiate.