Did you know that most people will lose tens of thousands of dollars over their lifetimes only due to their failure to practice salary negotiation? And let’s face it: most people don’t even begin to negotiate at all. Have you ever seen anyone negotiate, whether in an informal or formal work settings? It is almost always pathetic! You ask if they could maybe, somehow, possibly, consider increasing your salary. They say no. End of story.

So how do you become a better negotiator when getting a new job or client? There are a few techniques, but first things first: do your research and go in with a plan, because you can’t just ‘wing’ this. When you go in for an interview, you need to know what you want, what your employer wants, and what the market wants. You don’t want to end up making foolish offers that the potential employer doesn’t even need, so make sure you know their needs and their soft spots before you walk in. Also, go in with a suitable number in your head, so you don’t have to sit on the backseat as the interviewer drives. Keep at the back of your mind the regular market numbers for someone with your qualifications and the employer’s business size and reputation, and go from there.

Once the research is done, here are a few techniques to remember.

  • Don’t pitch too early. You don’t want to come across as too focused on money and you don’t want to give away how much you will accept. Go with the flow until they bring it up, and make sure that by this point, you already know about benefits like insurance and bonuses.
  • Do NOT give away your previous salary. This means boxing yourself in and possibly understating your worth. They might be planning to offer you $100 per hour, but just before that, you tell them your previous job paid $50. NO!
  • Provide extra services that are easy for you. Want more salary? Find something minor but related that they need help with but will have to hire someone else for. For example, you are doing the marketing but you can also help with minor auditing tasks. Offer to do it and demand a disproportionate higher salary.
  • Overstate your price, then offer a discount. The good old ‘Door in the Face’ technique still works. For example, tell them you work at $150 an hour. Just when they begin to say no, say you will do it at $100 for an added perk from them.
  • Show your worth. They need to know you are talented and might be taken by a competitor. The key to negotiate a good deal is to show them you are willing to walk out (even if you are really not). If they feel you need them to give you the job, they will manipulate that. Show them they need you. But then again, you must show them your value first.

Once you are through with the process and it works in your favor, here’s another trick, if you can manage the balancing act: don’t accept or reject any offer too fast. ‘I am thankful for the offer. Could I respond to you regarding it within 2 days?’ should work well. An immediate yes may be too eager, an immediate no too offensive.

Of course, it is also important to remember that you may face failure with some of these tactics. Not all employers will be willing to negotiate and some just might reject your tactics, but that’s okay. You’ll just know what not to do the next time!