Tips for Negotiating a Salary

negotiating a salaryNegotiating a salary is intimidating. There are a lot of people who will never ask for a raise and simply wait around for a small raise each year (if they’re lucky) simply because they’re too afraid to ask.

You’re much more valuable than to let your salary sit on autopilot.

The good news: negotiation skills can be learned. I don’t care if you’re an introvert, extrovert, first timer or you think you’re an expert.

We can all benefit from a few tips on negotiating a salary, car, house, or whatever.

1. Figure out what it is that you’ll ask for

Before you even present your ask, you have to figure out what it is that you want. This is where research comes into play. If you haven’t done your research on your salary, comparable house sales, or the price of that car located at 10 other dealers, you’re wasting your time. Put your ideal figure on paper and use this to frame your ask. Know what is a reasonable price and try to improve by 10-15%. For example, if 60,000 is the going salary for a similar position, you can be confident that asking 10-15% more won’t get you laughed out of the room.

Another example might be with a used car that costs around $15,000. If this is within the average buying price of this car (remember you did your research!) then feel confident asking for a sale price of $12,750 (15% of the price). You’ll probably meet somewhere in the middle, but having a frame in place helps you to start somewhere.

It’s important to think about your frame – but don’t lead with this! That’s the number one mistake people make in negotiations. Before you can present your asking price, you have to frame your ask.

2. Frame Your Ask The Smart Way

The way you frame your ask will show you a couple things:

  1. Are they willing to move? Most of the time there’s wiggle room, so this really gives you insight on the other person’s willingness to move and to be flexible.
  1. It presents the other person with a WIN. A good frame will give the hiring manager or salesperson a glimmer of hope that you are truly ready to commit. Here are a couple frames that give you an idea of the wiggle room and potential to win.

“What’s the best ‘out the door’ price today?”

“Tell me what your absolute best price is”

The best part of these quick frames is that you have NOT presented your price. You’re getting a feel for their willingness to be flexible, but not at the expense of giving the first offer. Giving the first offer can be really dangerous: if you’re initial salary request is too high, they might gloss over you as ‘too expensive.’ On the other hand, if you come in too low, you’ve just shot yourself in the foot

3. Consider Your BATNA – and keep it CONFIDENTIAL

The term BATNA stands for: Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement.

Your BATNA is your next best option. Think about buying a car. Your BATNA may be your trade in that you could drive for another year if you really needed to. Your BATNA might be the job you dread but pays well, so you’re holding off for the right position.

There’s almost always a BATNA and it needs to be kept a secret. The minute you reveal your BATNA, you’ve handed over the negotiations. The agreement you accept should be better than your BATNA, so it makes sense that you’re giving the other person the upper hand when you reveal your BATNA.

In summary, keep these points in mind before you enter into any negotiation:

  1. Figure your asking price (through research of what is reasonable)
  2. Frame your ask (this is where you find out if they’re flexible)
  3. Consider your BATNA
  4. Present your offer

Presenting your offer is a skill in and of itself. It’s so important we’ve dedicated another entire article to it here! Presenting your offer in a negotiation.

Tim Fraticelli DPT, MBA, CFP®

Tim Fraticelli is a Physical Therapist, Certified Financial Planner™ and founder of He loves to teach PTs and OTs ways to save time and money in and out of the clinic, especially when it comes to documentation or continuing education. Follow him on YouTube for weekly videos on ways to improve your financial health.

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