You’ve worked hard. You’ve done everything that has been asked of you and more.  And now it’s time to negotiate for your next salary bump. However,  if you are like most people who come to us for executive coaching, this gives you a pit in your stomach.  Salary negotiation can feel like you are going into a battle where the chances are high that “they” will win and you will lose.

It doesn’t need to be this way but you need to be prepared.

The very first step, if you want to negotiate for more money, is to understand what your company cares about.  Really cares about. 

What does your company REALLY care about?

Susan, a Vice President of Design Engineering at a large computer manufacturing company came to us to help her negotiate for more money  She was frustrated because she saw other people getting raises when she was working more hours and doing more work. We asked her to tell us about her last salary negotiation.

“During my salary meeting I told my boss that on top of managing a team of designers, meeting product deadlines, going on business development calls with Sales, and the endless meetings, I also spend hours each month mentoring women engineers and chairing a “Women in Engineering” support group in our company.  My boss tells me what a great job I am doing  and how valuable my work is, but it just hasn’t translated into money. I don’t think I can possibly work any harder.  I’m working 80 hours a week as it is”

Susan shouldn’t work any harder, but she should change the way she presents her value to the company in a salary negotiation. 

This can be confusing because often times in companies, the words and the music do not match.  The corporate party line may be that “We are a company that supports social justice, environmental sustainability, mentoring, pro-bono work” but if they are a for-profit enterprise, what they care about first and foremost is the bottom-line.  No matter how enlightened and wonderful the company may be, those other wonderful initiatives are secondary to making a profit.  We cannot tell you how many highly talented and brilliant executives we work with who are surprised to hear this. In a salary negotiation, it is crucial to speak to what the company truly cares about, and what the company cares about is money and how you bring it in.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

How have you saved the company money and how much was it? 

How much new business did you bring in?  

How did you make your department run smoother with less inefficiencies and how does that translates into dollars? 

How did you use technology to streamline processes and make more money? 

How did your work help someone else close a sale and how much was that sale worth? Did you develop or improve a product that is now going to market and will bring in $$$? 

Make a spread sheet.  Use a chart.  Hand it out. Quantify EVERYTHING.

Doing service or committee work is truly wonderful and important but in a salary negotiation, it is a secondary concern. Try to frame your reasoning for a higher salary in terms of what your company cares about, which is usually making or saving the company money. This will help them see your value in a context that is important to them and persuade them that you should be paid more.  

Bottom-line, next time you ask for a raise, make sure that you show your value in a way that aligns with what your company really cares about.

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