Hi, I’m Alex! I’ve been working in sales for innovative startups like SoftBank Robotics and large corporations like NBC Universal for years. Now, I work as an industry mentor at Pathrise. I help people land great sales jobs through workshops and 1-on-1 mentorship. Check out my article with negotiation tips to increase your sales development representative salary.
The interview process can feel like a maze, with new hurdles and pitfalls at every turn. However, experienced job seekers not only navigate this process, but they start to map out the steps to make the process work for them. No matter how daunting, most companies follow a similar interview process. Knowing what to expect from interview processes will enable you to go into your sessions with confidence and increase your salary once you come out of the maze with an offer.
Typically, job seekers go through the following interview flow:
- Phone screen with recruiter/HR team member (brief and mainly behavioral)
- Technical assessment, challenge, or interview(s)
- 1-2 onsite interviews, which consist of technical, behavioral, and cross-functional interviews
Once you have successfully passed through these steps, you move into the offer stage. A lot of job seekers get excited when they hear they got the job. Some get so excited they accept it right away. But the process isn’t over yet! The offer stage can be just as strategic as a technical interview, with a considerably higher payoff. You should always negotiate your salary. Not just for your wallet, but because the company expects it. Plus, your salary at this job will shape your salary at future jobs. If you don’t negotiate, you are likely leaving money on the table, and may even be slashing every paycheck you’ll ever take home.
But, we know that negotiation can be nerve wracking. Even if job seekers get past the fear of just asking for more, they may not know how to ask. While you can ace technical interviews with sales knowledge, you may not have the same knowledge of negotiation. We wanted to share our data-backed negotiation tips that have helped 1,000+ people land great jobs and negotiate competitive salaries. Working with our experienced mentors, fellows in our program have increased their salary by 10-20% through negotiation alone. Review this list to prepare to negotiate your sales development representative salary with confidence.
Play it close to chest: Don’t mention salary numbers or range
Throwing out salary numbers should be as taboo in the interview process as it is at the dinner table. Mentioning a figure at the beginning of the process could tie you to the number and make negotiation much more difficult. Never give the recruiter a number or range when asked for expected salary. Instead, play it close to the chest by saying “Negotiable, within reason.” If they require a number, put 0. If the recruiter asks you on the phone screen or in an interview, you can say:
- “I’d like to do some research on the average salaries for this role in this city before I answer that question.”
- “I haven’t considered that yet. At the moment, I am just focusing on doing well in my interviews because I’m just really excited about <company>.”
Not only does this make negotiation easier, but also it shows that you are enthusiastic and eager to actually do your homework. Most of the time, these answers will be more than fine. But if the recruiter really presses you, pick a very high number and explain you believe that is the market rate. Try saying, “I think the market rate base for sales development representatives in <insert area here> is around <$xxx>, so I guess my expectations lie around there. But, I will definitely go do some research and let you know when it comes time. Right now I’m really focusing on giving it my all in these interviews.”
Play it smart: Research
In the meantime, do that research you promised! Arm yourself with knowledge of local salaries so you will know what is fair for negotiation. Search for sales development representative salaries in your area and experience level. On Glassdoor, the average salary for a Sales Development Representative is around $48k while the average salary for an Account Executive is $60k. On AngelList, the average salary for a Sales Development Representative is $68k. Sales roles in general pay $88k. This may be a more well-rounded sales salary since it includes startups and the many kinds of sales roles you may encounter in the job search.
Play it cool: Don’t rush the negotiation
Knowing average salaries will prepare you to go into negotiations with a level head. But you still should not tell the recruiter any number or range. In fact, you shouldn’t tell the recruiter anything more than “thank you!” over the phone.
Typically, recruiters call to offer you the job. We recommend you move the negotiation to email so you don’t say anything you might regret. When they do call, thank them! Explain how excited you are and then hang up. Don’t tell them anything about your salary yet. If they ask about it, tell them you would like to see the written offer first. Then, once you get their offer in writing, you can continue the conversation over email. Really take your time with the offer letter, crafting a thorough response with feedback from friends and mentors. If you are looking for a sample response, use this annotated negotiation email template to make sure you hit the right points to sell yourself in the negotiation.
What goes into compensation?
When planning your negotiation, remember that compensation is more than salary – it also includes bonuses, equity, and other benefits like PTO. Top tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon may not be able or willing to negotiate your salary itself because they often offer very high salaries from the get go. However, they may be more open to improving your benefits, equity, and possibly even signing bonuses. Taking your time to negotiate is always worth it, and if the company doesn’t budge on salary that does not mean it is a lost cause.
When negotiating with smaller startups, your salary might start low in the first offer. Therefore, you should negotiate your salary unless they explicitly state that they can’t go higher. If so, you can turn your attention to bonuses, equity, and other benefits.
Job seekers should also research what specific companies pay similar candidates for these roles. Sites like Glassdoor, Paysa, and Payscale can help you ground your negotiations in solid facts and give you leverage. One of our Pathrise fellows used the following template to increase his salary by $25k. All he did was show the employer the salary he could make at a different company in the same type of position and his salary shot up.
Sales development representative salary negotiation email
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! After taking some time to talk about the offer with my family and doing some reflection, I’d like to ask a few questions.
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 $XXXXX per year with a $ZZZZZ 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 $XXXXX, 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 this guide and template, you are ready to dive into the offer phase of the sales job search. With some research and a level head, you can use these steps to negotiate your sales development representative salary above the average.
More info about Pathrise
Pathrise is a career accelerator that helps students and professionals land their dream job in tech. Our mentors help 1-on-1 with all phases of the job search, including salary negotiation. With our guidance, fellows in our program have seen a 10-20% increase in salary.
If you want to work with any of our experienced mentors to streamline your salary negotiation or optimize any other area of the job search, join Pathrise.