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How to Build Leverage into Your Salary Negotiation

15 how to build leverage into your salary negotiation

Victoria Pynchon is the founder and chief negotiator at “She Negotiates,” a consulting company that has helped hundreds of women negotiate compensation. Victoria helps her clients prepare a written strategic plan.

Her strategic plan starts with market value. Why? Because most people don’t come to her before the interview. They have to ascertain a company’s interests during the negotiation process. She always starts with:

  • What’s your market value?
  • What’s the objective data on which you base that market value?
  • What’s your bottom line?
  • What’s your wildest dream?

So she creates a bracket with those answers so they can negotiate compensation within those lines. Victoria’s favorite phrase is, “The negotiation doesn’t begin until someone says no.” If people don’t say no, you have buyers’ or seller’s remorse.

Even if people know what their best-case scenario is, they often haven’t planned out the necessary concessions they may have to give. They also don’t know what they’ll ask for in return. They could be making massive concessions while getting nothing in return.

You’re not just finding out what the company needs in the negotiation conversation—you’re building leverage. That’s why Victoria works to break compensation down into as many components as possible. It allows you to trade across issues for something of high value to you and low cost to the other party.

Recognize the value of silence in negotiation

Victoria implores her clients to save their rationales, don’t talk too much, and recognize the value of silence. Thirty years ago, Victoria walked into an apartment she wanted to rent. She was told it was rented for $1,750 a month. She was quiet, contemplating how great of a price it was. The person showing the apartment quickly followed with, “And if you pay on time, it’s $1,700.” Silence is powerful.

Building a plan is critical

The goal is not to get x amount of dollars. You have to focus on the components within that x amount of dollars that are tradeable, so you’re not conceding on the total amount. It allows you to leverage those tradeable items throughout the conversation. Victoria advises her clients to marry compensation negotiation with a career path. Your career path is what you see for your future, but it also asks for the benefits you need to grow.

Victoria entered the legal profession in the late 70s when there weren’t many women practicing—and certainly not as trial attorneys. So she learned to use her gender strategically. She loved it when people underestimated her. You can easily leverage that situation. Victoria identifies as a “soft” negotiator, but she is direct and sure about her boundaries.

The first client she consulted for was a woman—and also her best friend. Her friend was a senior manager at a healthcare organization and made around $100,000 a year. Victoria had her start by rewriting her job description because it had changed significantly—and included much more—over the years.

Victoria then suggested $150,000 as her friend’s wildest dream number. In the end, her friend had a face-to-face meeting with her employer. They said the highest they’d offer was $120,000 (after she put $135,000 on the table). She found herself saying, “That’s unacceptable,” and got her $135,000.

The bottom-line? You’re not entitled to be confident unless you have a plan. Victoria shares more about how to negotiate compensation in episode #244 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast. Go check it out!