Are you in the final interview stages for a Product Manager job? Perhaps you have a couple different offers on the table and don’t know how to respond to them. If so, then it might be time to brush up on your negotiating skills. While it’s essential to know how to negotiate a product management salary when dealing with a job offer, salary negotiation is also a skill that will serve you well in the long term.
Negotiating your pay ensures that you are compensated fairly for your credentials and duties. Learning how to negotiate a product management salary is easier when you understand other essential considerations such as vacation time and perks. To help make sure you get paid for what you’re worth, we’re going to walk you through our best tips for how to negotiate a Product Manager salary for a job offer. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- When to Negotiate
- How to Prep for a Negotiation
- Your Go-To Negotiation Strategy
- Negotiation Tips: Do’s and Don’ts
Knowing when it’s time to sit down and negotiate can significantly impact the outcome of the conversation.
There are two typical pitfalls to avoid when it comes to pay: discussing it too early in the interview process or discussing it too late, after the decision has already been made.
If you’re job searching through connections with recruiters, you should be able to gain information about the company’s product management salary expectations through them. The recruiter should be able to find out this information for you before the first interview. Also, anticipate that most job applications or interviewers will at some point question you on exactly what type of compensation you are looking for. Usually you’ll face the salary question in the first or second round of interviews.
However, before you rush in with your salary demands, make it evident that you want to be a top performer, and be paid as such — not merely to get extra money out of a standard, base level performance.
While there are times throughout the interview process that you can flex your haggling muscles, you’ll want to resist the need to demonstrate that you are a skilled negotiator. It’s advised that you only negotiate if something is essential to you. But don’t quibble over minor details. Fighting for a little more can irritate people and limit your capacity to negotiate for a raise later in your career when it may be more important.
As with all the steps of a job search, you should go into a product management salary negotitaion with as much knowledge as possible. Your most powerful ally is information. So, before you sit down at the table, you’ll want to have conducted thorough research as to what the pay bracket for the position entails for your region. You also should have a solid grasp of what it is you’re bringing to the table.
Here are our top three tips for prepping how to negotiate a product management salary:
1. Know Your Value
If you find yourself in the running for one of today’s hottest occupations, understand that your skills are in demand. After reviewing what you’re providing for the company, you can reply to the job offer with more confidence. If the company is having trouble locating someone with the necessary abilities and experience, it may be possible to negotiate a higher salary.
2. Understand the Norms
Talk to recruiters and industry experts to understand what product management salary range to expect in your industry. If you’re in a position to take a step in a new career direction or are ready to make a lateral move with a pay bump, pick up the phone when recruiters call you. They realize how much individuals with your experience and knowledge are worth, so take advantage of it!
Engage in a discussion about the position’s duties and pay the next time a recruiter contacts you. Even if you don’t obtain an exact number, knowing the range is helpful.
3. Know What You Want Going in
Organize your thoughts and what you will say before negotiating job offers. Recognize what your company’s usual increases are. Don’t ask for an outrageous number that makes you appear uninformed about what constitutes a reasonable raise.
It’s absolutely fine to ask for more than you expect for your Product Manager salary. However, you don’t want to out-price yourself. Allow the manager some leeway to counter with less while still arriving at a satisfactory conclusion.
It’s also worthwhile to note that you should request a particular amount, such as $107,750 rather than $110,000.
Employees who utilize a more exact figure in their initial negotiating request are more likely to receive a final offer closer to their expectations. Tactics such as this work because the employer will believe you did a more in-depth study into your market value to arrive at that figure.
After all is said and done, the figure or range you gave in the beginning stages of the interview process is likely not one you will want to be tied to in the final interview. You will have gotten a clearer description of the job and its expectations by this stage.
Luckily, negotiations are expected in the final round, despite the figure you may have given at the beginning. This is where the Kiss, Kick, Push Method of salary negotiation comes in.
The first offer a company gives you is never final, and even when you have negotiated the initial offer this method can still be used to get the very best number possible. Here’s how it works:
Create a very positive environment. When they give you their figure, your response should be something similar to this: “I’m so pumped up that I got this offer. I can’t believe it, this is my dream company.”
Once they ask if you’re going to take the offer, tell them no, and that you will give them a callback. You want to give them (and yourself) a few days to think about it, and to prevent a bad negotiation process.
Your goal is to show that you love the company and offer. Don’t give them any connotation that you are still going to be interviewing: you don’t want them to have a backup list of candidates just in case you pull out of the interview process. You want all of the leverage.
After three to five business days, it’s time to set up the kick. Let them know that you’re excited about the offer, but something has happened that has caused you to not be able to take it unless they’re able to give you more money. Tell them something like:
“Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I am so excited for this position and it is everything I can ask for in a role. I particularly like (company mission, product, people, culture, etc…)
However, after doing some research… I realized that in accordance with my experience, background, and skills, I really should be compensated (Initial or verbal offer +$10,000–$15,000).
I understand that you may not be able to match it, however, if we can get closer to this number, I will feel 100% confident in shutting down my search immediately.”
In two to three hours after having the Kick conversation, send a message similar to the one below to give them just an extra push:
“Hey, I just wanted to check back to see if everything is okay. I have a few other interviews lined up that I would much rather cancel as soon as possible.
When can I hear back on the next steps?
Thank you so much for your attention on this matter.”
Even if the interaction does not exactly follow these steps, this method is a great negotiation tactic that buys you time, gives you more confidence, and is sure to nudge the salary meter up a little bit. If you have other offers on the table, this can also bolster your leverage as they serve as proof that your skillset is in demand, backing up your estimation of your value.
Here are some communication tips to give you an edge and help you crush the Product Manager salary negotiation, as well as some scenarios you should avoid when asking for a pay raise.
Do: Build Your Case
Prepare clear examples of how your talents and expertise can improve your new company’s bottom line before bargaining. Certifications or specific technical abilities, for example, might help you perform better on the job, so don’t forget to highlight them. You may make a strong argument for why you should be paid more than the original offer by linking your skills to the position you’ll be taking on.
Don’t merely respond with a higher amount once you’ve received the wage offer. Even if your data backs you up, explaining why you believe you deserve more can help you succeed.
Don’t: Wing It
Some people may think this is excessive, but it’s a good idea to ask a colleague or mentor to practice the discussion you’ll have with the hiring manager. Someone from the business sector would be excellent as a partner who can advise you on portraying confidence and responding to unexpected inquiries. Running over your delivery a few times might help you feel more confident going to negotiate a job offer.
Do: Aim for the Top of the Pay Bracket
When you conducted your study, you most likely developed a range that indicates your market worth.
It’s easy to ask for something in the center of the range, but you should instead ask for something towards the top. As mentioned earlier, you should evaluate your value and assume you’re eligible to top pay.
Your company will almost definitely want to bargain you down, so you’ll need some wiggle room to get a wage you’re happy with at the end of the day.
Don’t: Leave Without Everything in Writing
Request formal documentation after you and the recruiting manager have agreed on a remuneration plan. Aside from the pay, it should also include any special provisions, such as a signing bonus or a relocation expense allowance.
You’ll want to include a list of the job requirements and tasks for your new position. Make sure you and your employer both sign the paper. If not, seek some sort of informal paperwork. Some firms may give this routinely as part of an employment contract. However, if they don’t, request it.
Do: Roleplay the Conversation
If you’re going to negotiate your pay in person or over the phone, it’s a good idea to practice what you’re going to say. Request the assistance of a trustworthy friend or colleague in practicing and providing feedback. If they’re okay with it, they may play the role of your boss and ask any questions that might arise during the meeting. You can also work on your body language by practicing in front of a mirror.
Don’t: Give into Ultimatums
People dislike being given ultimatums, so refrain from issuing them. However, it’s best to be aware that we do it accidentally sometimes — we’re simply trying to demonstrate strength or frustration, and it comes off the wrong way. The hiring manager may do the same.
When faced with an ultimatum, the preferred strategy is just to ignore it because the person who issued it may eventually realize that it might jeopardize the transaction and wish to retract it.
Do: Exude confident
It’s critical to maintain your composure during the discussion. Confidence demonstrates that you are assured in the abilities that you can offer to the organization. The recruiting manager will be more inclined to consider you if you maintain your composure. You can maintain your confidence by recalling that you did the required study to determine what you’re worth in today’s market. Keep your evidence on hand and cite it to demonstrate to the company that you’re serious.
However, it’s best to keep in mind that there is a thin line between confidence and arrogance. So, don’t over-exaggerate your claims.
Do: Value Your Likability
Being likable can make receiving your ideal offer easier. This may seem like common sense, however, someoneout there may need to hear this: anything you do in a negotiation that makes you unlikable decreases the likelihood that they will work to get you a better deal.
Acting likable is about handling certain unavoidable conflicts in negotiating, such as asking for what you deserve without being greedy, pointing out flaws in the offer without appearing petty, and being persistent without being a bother.
Keep in mind that most managers dislike haggling as well. Your future employer is not a rival. Maintaining a pleasant tone when discussing pay and benefits can help you navigate these talks more effectively.
Still Have Questions?
If you’re learning the ropes of product management and job hunting, it helps to have some support. Product Gym is a lifetime membership program for Product Managers, PM job hunters, and product people of all sorts. Getting people jobs in product management is our bread and butter: that makes us very good at assessing where you’re at in your job hunt and equipping you with the knowledge and skills you need to kickstart your dream career in product management. And that includes necessary information like learning how to negotiate salary.
If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of Product Manager skills and job search tactics, get in touch with us! We’re offering free career coaching sessions with our in-house team of Product Manager Recruiter experts. We’d love to hear from you.