How to negotiate salary for sales roles

How to Negotiate Salary for Sales Roles

1. Why it’s essential to negotiate salary in a sales role

Have you ever applied for a job, worked hard, landed the role, and celebrated its success only to find out later that your co-worker is making a 20% higher salary at the same position?

When a recruiter and hiring manager go to the market to find a new sales professional for a role they agree upon the salary range and compensation packet internally. When you are asked, “What are your salary expectations for this role?” answer with “What is the range currently allotted for this role?” From there, you can negotiate salary from a much better position. Do not assume you know the salary range for the role from the job application. We are in sales, after all, and as a sales professional, you are expected to treat every transaction as a sales negotiation. If you leave money on the table during the interview it sets a bad precedent about how you will handle transactions with your future clients.

Pro Tip 1: Always get your offer in writing! It makes it easier to understand and negotiate salary and other aspects of your offer letter.

2. Salary ranges for years of experience in different cities

The cost of living directly affects salary expectations and salary negotiations. A sales role in New York will understandably have a higher salary than that same role in the Midwest. If you gain a remote role from one of the big cities, base your negotiations on the salary range in that city even though you can work from anywhere!

Pro Tip 2: Your first offer letter can help you get a second offer on the table. Leverage your job offers to pressure interview cycles to close faster!

3. Tips to consider

Rule #1 of a good salary negotiation is always to get the other party to share more than you. You want the upper hand in any negotiation. 

How dependent are you on the compensation aspect of your new job? Have you sat down and run your numbers? Do you know what you need to live well and to be able to put money away? Knowing how vulnerable you are and are willing to be in the long term helps ground these conversations. Your vulnerability does not, however, need to be shared when you negotiate salary. Don’t sell yourself short just because you can live at a lower wage.

Pro Tip 3: A W2 is a powerful piece of evidence to show your worth through your achievements at a previous position.

4. Common mistakes

Telling someone your expected salary range at the beginning of an interview is always a mistake. You have anchored yourself to that number and are sunk if they were willing to offer more than that. Let them always be the ones to tell you what they think is fair; you can start to negotiate salary after learning this and set your range accordingly. This will, 99% of the time, lead to a higher base salary than you would’ve gained otherwise!

5. What parts of the offer can be negotiated

Now, technically, any aspect of an offer letter can be negotiated upon receipt. So the question is, what do you want to sales negotiate?

  1. Base salary and compensation (OTE) can be established and finalized.
  2. Title
  3. Start Date.
  4. Additional Benefits like paid time off, Medical, and or Stock Options.
  5. Remote, Relocation, and or Hybrid Schedule.

You need reasons to negotiate non-salary items as well. Prepare the reason why you should get those bonuses just like you would prepare a salary negotiation.

6. When they say “No.”

That’s okay. This is part of the process. You make an offer; they make a counteroffer. Take  everything discussed so far and look at the sales negotiation from this lens:

  1. What was and was not agreed upon during the interview process?
  2. Did you make anything clear earlier in the process that is not included in this version of the offer letter?
  3. What is the standard across the industry for roles of this kind and companies of this size/location?
  4. What is the tone of the offer itself? Does it feel like they have all the leverage or have they made it known they need you for the role too?

From here you will be working with our Industry Mentors to fully understand the sales negotiation process. On average we see anywhere from a 10% to 20% increase in base salary, among many other factors. We look forward to working with and for you!

Happy Hunting!


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AJ Lamm

Hey, my name is AJ! I've been in sales and customer success for almost 17 years now! My life focuses on helping people, telling the truth, and getting people better off for interacting with me and my org chart. I've also been a teacher at Pathrise for over 2 years, holding our program's highest retention rate. Now, as an admissions manager, I put fellows first by ensuring they fully understand what the program is and is not. We move forward only if it is genuinely a good fit for them. Grateful to serve and help level up those who need it!

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