Laurel Bellows is the Managing Partner of her namesake, boutique firm, The Bellows Law Group, P.C. whose practice areas include Executive Compensation, Business Consultation, Business Litigation, Employment Law & Human Resources, and Personal Legal Services.
Bellows focused on tips and topics for negotiating compensation packages, yet frequently widened the scope by noting these strategies are applicable in any type of negotiation.
A key takeaway was preparation is power. Bellows suggested writing out your own, ideal or dream deal to have as goal which you can test to ensure your expectations are realistic. Likewise, one must also take into account whether or not the company’s goal to determine your performance/bonus is also an achievable goal. To assist in this process, Bellows had a novel approach. In addition to using resources such as trade associations, public data (if one is lucky), and informational interviews, she suggested a brainstorming session. Inviting friends over for a candid discussion and feedback over drinks could enhance your preparations.
The key to negotiation is determining what you are worth, regardless of previous earnings. Determine your level of responsibility, skills, and efforts beyond simply whether you are generating a cost or revenue. Ideally monetizing your value will create leverage. More importantly, it will establish a connection to the employer’s perspective with your understanding of the position and potential role in the greater organization. Nevertheless, employers’ key challenges remain; identifying, motivating and retaining talent.
During the initial negotiations, if the employer asks for your compensation target, then assure them that they can come to an agreement. Emphasize you are really interested in joining the team and would prefer an offer before discussing specifics. With an offer in hand, force the employer to specify the numbers of the compensation package first. With a significant pause and a flinch or “hmm…,” counter with a nearly “blush-level” offer. From this point on, your research and preparation becomes your support to confidently negotiate with informed certainty. You have anticipated their counter argument and able to support your case. You may concede a lower initial package if you can have a six-month performance review to have the opportunity to earn a package closer to your initial offer.
Finally, always have a best alternative at any moment. If you are fortunate, it may be taking an offer from different employer or realizing the negotiation will not end in an agreement and walking away.
Check out Laurel’s 10 pointers below:
Bullets by Bellow: 10 Pointers for Successful Negotiations
- Prepare, prepare, prepare
- Determine the extent of your counterpart’s authority
- Set a precise goal. Be able to justify your goal and quantify your demands
- Put your dream agreement in writing
- Keep your best alternative in mind
- Identify other party’s principal goal and best alternative
- Role Play: Practice your questions. Anticipate answers to questions you will be asked
- Strategize Timing
- Your name and your reputation are inseparable
- Remember: Not every negotiation ends in agreement