This post is about negotiating skills. A lot of people (read women) feel weird talking about money, or undervalue their skills, and end up getting way less than they should. The "something is better than nothing" syndrome will set you up to get lowballed every time. Every. Single. Time.
Look, the world is capitalist, and people will always try to get more value for their money. No one will hand you what you're worth unless you demand for it. So, even if you feel weird talking about money, fear not! It's a muscle; the more you negotiate right, the more confidence you build and the better you get at it.
Why am I in a position to give tips on this? I wrote this from personal experience and I’ve been privileged to negotiate quite a bit in my career, from job offers, to contracts with vendors, employees and even regulators (yup!). I’ve been on both sides of the table. I've picked up a few tips along the way and I want to share them with you.
This post was inspired by a thread I wrote on Twitter. There was some conversation on women not knowing how to negotiate and I was like, you know what? I'm going to write a thread/post on this!
1. Negotiate from a place of strength:
What people don't know is, negotiation starts before it begins. Whoever has “more to lose” or wants it desperately and shows it, will likely get low balled from the get-go. Enter the conversation not wanting it too badly. That way, you will likely not settle before you really should. Most people shoot themselves in the foot by wanting it too badly. Before it starts, be ready to let it go, should it not happen.
2. Do your research (what you’re worth).
It’s not emotional. Impostor syndrome will tell you you're not all that. Silence it with data. What you offer has a market value. Research and value it. Have solid data points to support your position. For jobs, use Glassdoor, or where there's not enough data, ask friends to ask friends. Get a range, a general sense and use this as a data point during negotiation. Remember, everyone is trying to maximize the value they receive, and so should you.
3. Do your research (what is important to them):
Get a sense of their needs, wants, and nice to haves. In conversation, make sure your value proposition (what you're selling) ties in mostly to their needs and wants. No need pitching for what you have and they don’t need. Be deliberate. Note: if you notice what they are looking for does not align with what you have to offer (your unique value proposition), it is a pretty good sign that the negotiation may not end favorably for you.
4. Do the math:
When I’m negotiating, I always have detailed excel sheets on current position and proposed offer so I make a well-rounded decision.
If current financial position + switching costs + opportunity cost on non-financial considerations > proposed offer, reject.
If current position + switching costs + opportunity cost = proposed offer, consider it. Make a decision on other factors not considered. Either way you're good.
If current position + switching costs + opportunity cost < proposed offer, accept.
5. ALWAYS add tax:
Always. When you do your calculation, add tax and share that figure. Be sure to be clear up front if it’s gross (with tax) or net (without tax) — this sometimes means a 25-50% difference!
For job related tax calculations in Nigeria, Deloitte Income Tax Calculator helps.
For vendor type tax, consider all possible taxes: VAT, WHT and any other country related taxes.
6. It's not always (just) about the money:
You can negotiate payment terms, currency, flexible times, delivery windows, maternity leave, medical, transport, and additional benefits that aren’t exactly quantifiable. Do not forget these, sometimes they make all the difference.
For early stage startups, it may be worth having the conversation on equities; this medium article breaks it down in a way that's so easy to understand.
7. Be willing to compromise:
Let me be honest, you will not get all you want. BUT decide on the one or two things you will NOT compromise on before the conversation. This is so important. Do this with a clear head ahead of time, because while negotiating a lot of emotions are flying. Knowing your line beforehand helps you make sure you get a reasonable deal.
8. It's a dance:
Don’t be too upfront, or too aggressive. Learn to pause and reflect. Some negotiators use delay as a tactic. What has worked for me is, when I say no, it is always with supporting reason and I never delay unreasonably. I give you a rational reason why I have to say no, and how I would love to say yes, if certain things were different. I make them focus on those things they can change, show them I am also willing to compromise. No one likes a selfish negotiator.
9. Watch your ego:
When egos are involved, things become tricky. There are times to display your competence unapologetically, and there’s tact for that as well (a.k.a. Humblebrag) so you don't come off full of yourself. People generally do not like cocky people in negotiations and will concede more to people who are incredibly competent, sure, and also collaborative. Very few people want to do business with a jerk.
10. Discuss price after value add is clear:
For employment type situations, I personally refrain from going into too much detail on pricing up front. I want to know if we both add value to each other so I can quantify it. I also refrain from giving a recruiter my current earning. It is a clever way for recruiters to box you in, especially if you earned below current market value in a previous role. You can politely decline by saying “I would love for us to explore this using going market rates for this role". If it benefits you, feel free to give a range of your current pay and share an expected increment bump you think will justify your move. Don't forget to add tax ;)
People will pay for value if they can afford it. Know this, especially if you are expensive and you can back your price up with value. People always want value and when they can afford it, and will find a way to pay for it so long as they know they will get more in return.
P.S. I also realize we don’t always negotiate from a place of strength for lack of choice, or the value add is simply not strong enough. It happens. I may do another post on that as I have been in that situation before. I will share how I handled it, and how it worked for me.
You don't get what deserve, you get what you negotiate. You might as well negotiate for what you are worth + tax.
I really hope this post helps you negotiate for what you're worth + tax.
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