Hi, I’m Alex! I’ve been working in sales for innovative startups like SoftBank Robotics as well as large corporations like NBC Universal for years. Now, I work as an industry mentor at Pathrise to help people land great sales jobs through workshops and 1-on-1 mentorship. Check out my article on how to increase your sales salary.
If you have been looking for jobs for some time, you will start to see that companies follow similar processes. This can be helpful for you because it gives you a chance to prepare fully. Therefore, you can go into each of your interviews with confidence.
Generally, most companies follow this flow:
- Phone screen with recruiter or HR (brief and mainly behavioral). Check out our list of 5 phone interview questions and answers to practice.
- Technical assessment, challenge, or interview(s). Prepare by practicing questions they likely will ask.
- 1-2 onsite interviews, which consist of technical, behavioral, and cross-functional interviews. Review our guide to behavioral interview prep so you can go in with confidence.
If you are successful in these interviews, you will receive an offer. This is an exciting moment because all of your hard work has paid off! You are very close to getting the job. But, it is important not to rush through this stage. If you do, you are likely leaving money on the table. Negotiation has become a natural part of the job search process. In fact, companies expect it, so make sure you are prepared.
We’ve worked with hundreds of job-seekers to land great jobs with salaries that are more than $12k above industry standards. So, we wanted to lay out tips to help you go into your offer with confidence.
How to increase your sales salary
The first step comes at the very beginning of your interactions: never mention money! Sometimes you will see a question asking about your salary expectations in the written application. If you come across this question, we suggest writing, “Negotiable, within reason”. Other times it might come up in your phone screen with the recruiter or HR team member. In this case, a good response is: “I would like to do more research on the industry standards before giving a number.”
In the meantime, you should do that research. Get a good understanding of what people are being paid for these types of roles. Make sure you are looking by experience level as well. According to Glassdoor, average compensation for a Sales Manager is around $99k and a Sales Associate is $44k. Similarly, a Sales Development Representative (SDR) has an average salary of $48k. On AngelList, the average salary for Sales is $79k. This is likely a more well-rounded salary average because it includes startups.
Now that you have these numbers in mind, you can get a better sense of what to expect. But, you should still not say any numbers to the recruiter, even when they give you the offer. Just thank them, tell them that you are excited, and then let them know you will get back to them.
Remember that compensation is more than just salary. It also includes equity, bonuses, and other benefits (like PTO). This is especially true for sales positions because a lot of these roles rely heavily on commission and bonuses based on performance and quotas.
That being said, when you are negotiating with big tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon who are known for offering high salaries and good benefits, they might not be able to make many changes to your actual salary. You should still try, but you might have better results with your equity, signing bonuses, and other benefits.
With smaller startups, your salary might be lower in the first offer, so you should try to negotiate for salary unless they explicitly mention they can’t go higher. If you can increase your base salary, that’s great, but if not, focus your attention on bonuses, equity, and benefits, which all go into increasing your total compensation. You can adapt this annotated negotiation email template, so that you hit the right points and highlight your value to the company.
You should also do specific research into what other companies pay for these roles. Platforms like Glassdoor, Paysa, and Payscale can help you leverage your negotiations. Here is a template that one of our Pathrise fellows used recently to receive a $25k increase in salary by showcasing what he could have made at a different company in the same type of position.
Hi [recruiter name],
I wanted to thank you again for the offer, I’m very excited for the chance to join [Company X], especially after getting to know the team! I took some time to talk about the offer with my family, and after doing some reflection, I’d like to ask a few questions.
First, I would love to know if there is any flexibility on the base salary to ease my mind about the decision — my goal is to be at my next company for a long time, so it’s important to me to make sure that I’m set up for success. I’m also about to finish up the interview process with [Company Y] for a similar position (on the same type of team), which starts at $95,000 per year with a $14,000 signing bonus. I am much more excited to join [Company X], but the difference in pay is a significant barrier for me at the moment. Is it possible to increase the base pay to come as close as possible to $95,000, or perhaps offer a significant sign-on bonus to help mitigate the difference? If so, I would have no hesitation signing the offer right away.
Again, I want to reiterate my excitement and interest in working at [Company X] — I’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone I’ve spoken with, and from what it sounds like the team is working on some really great things that I know I can contribute to.
Thank you again for this offer, please let me know your thoughts when you have a moment.
With these tips and templates, you should be able to go into the offer stage for sales positions knowing what to expect and how to increase your salary above the average.
Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With our guidance, fellows in our program have seen a 5-20% increase in salary.
If you want to work with any of our mentors 1-on-1 to get help with negotiation or with any other aspect of the job search, join Pathrise.