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Sales PsychologyMoney, money, money — it’s all about the money. For many career professionals, the salary is key when it comes to deciding which position to take. Often the salary we earn is used as a reflection of our success; the more you earn, the more successful you are.

Today, you will learn how to use sales psychology to negotiate a higher salary. This simple technique can add several extra thousand dollars onto your salary.

First, though, I want to explain the simple mistake many job hunters make when they’re offered two well-paying jobs.


Don’t Make This Salary Mistake

Bob was a rising marketing star; his niche was Internet advertising. After several years working for a small company, he decided it was time to approach large corporate advertising companies as they paid higher salaries.

Within a short time, he was offered two positions with rival companies. Both were well-established organizations who were taking the lead in the Internet marketing niche. One offered Bob a salary of $40,000 and the other a salary of $42,000.

As the two companies were similar in nearly every way, Bob took the $42,000 position. Many job hunters follow this same path, taking the higher-paying salary. But the savvy career professional doesn’t fall for this trick; they first look at the offered salary and the company’s other financial benefits.

Many organizations offer employees a range of benefits that affect their financial situation. Let’s say the $42,000 position offers no benefits, whereas the $40,000 position offer free gym membership, a company car and gas. and bonuses.


Position A

Position B

Salary: $42,000

Salary: $40,000

Company Car: $8,000

Gas: $30 per week (approx. $1,500/year)

Gym Membership: $300

Bonus: $5,000

Total Financial Benefits: $42,000

Total Financial Benefits: $54,800


Initially, position A sounds like the better job offer, financially speaking. But when broken down, position B actually offers Bob a better financial position. Checking the company benefits before accepting a job offer can increase your financial position, even if the advertised salary is lower than other positions.

Company benefits to consider include: health/life insurance; free dental care; eye tests; sick days; pension plans (how much does each employer add to your pension?); a car allowance (including insurance and maintenance); gym passes; bonuses; and even company shares.


Approaching Salary Negotiation

In many high-powered positions, the employee (especially when they’ve been headhunted) has the opportunity to negotiate the offered salary. To understand how to increase your salary, you need to understand the sales psychology behind salary negotiations.

You have to remember that at this stage of the application process, the employer wants to recruit you. The same psychology is used in supermarkets. The supermarkets know you want to buy (in this example) a bottle of wine; why else would you be in the wine section?

When choosing a bottle of wine, your eyes fall to the all too common red and white promotional label “Was $9.99 — Now Only $4.99!” This half-price bottle has been cleverly put between other $9.99 bottles of wine.

Our mind makes quick decisions by making fast comparisons: I can pay $9.99 for a bottle of wine, or I can buy the wine that’s on sale, which is of the same quality but half the price. Before you know it, you’re walking out with several bottles of discounted wine.


The Psychology Behind Sales

When making price choices, we first work out the baseline. Let’s say $9.99 is the going rate for a nice bottle of wine. If you buy a $4.99 bottle of wine, you worry the quality will be poor. You could buy a better-quality wine, but that would be more expensive — say $19.99.

So you buy the middle price (which is what most of us do), spending $9.99 for a bottle of wine… Unless you can get the same quality of wine for half the price if you buy the bottle on sale. This bottle could have originally been sold for $4.99, but due to the perceived low quality of the bottle, it didn’t sell until the store doubled the price and then sold it for “half price.”

It’s all about perception. You think you’ve gotten a better deal, but in reality, the store got exactly what it wanted.


Take the Lead, Take A Higher Salary

Bearing this in mind, I’d like to share with you a three-step process for increasing your salary using sales psychology.


Step 1: Take the Lead

You need to set the baseline, which will be the initial offer, because all of your salary negotiations will be compared to this initial offer — just as the quality of wine in our example was compared to the initial $9.99 bottle. If anything below the baseline is seen as poor, anything above the baseline is seen as high-quality (or, in salary terms, a good wage).

Often, an employer will try to set the baseline by giving you an offer of a salary. Don’t make this mistake; you need to be the one to first set the baseline.


Let’s say the employer’s original offer is $25,000, your counter-offer is $35,000 and the final offer is around $30,000, as most negotiations get met halfway.

But what happens if you set the initial offer for the same position? Imagine you set the initial baseline high, at $42,000. The employer will want to negotiate you down, so their first offer will be around $30,000, which means the final offer will land around $36,000 (if met halfway). By setting the baseline high, you ended with an additional $6,000.

The baseline is also used unconsciously, as a marker. Unless the employer has a set salary in mind, their offer will be nearer to your baseline offer compared to their potential original offer.


Step 2: Don’t Meet Them Halfway

In negations, it’s easy to keep meeting halfway. If your baseline is $42,000 and the employer offers $30,000, you’ll likely settle on $36,000, or the halfway point between the two. But rather than meeting the employer halfway, meet them at 20%.

If your baseline is $42,000 and the employer offers $30,000, come back with an offer of $40,000 (far away from halfway). The employer, wanting to end around halfway between those two numbers, will come back with an offer of around $35,000.

The employer will feel as if they’re winning the negotiation, which is what you want them to feel. Your final offer will be $38,000 (again, you’re not meeting them halfway). The employer will then end the negotiation with an offer $36,000 – $37,000, an additional $2,000 added to your pay packet compared to the original scenario where you met halfway. For higher salaries, this addition could be anywhere around the $20,000 mark.


Step 3: Ask for Extras

Using this technique, the employer will again think that they’ve won the negotiation, because you’ll settle on the employer’s final offer as they “beat you down” — when, in reality, you ended with a higher salary compared to the salary you would have been offered if you let the employer set the baseline or if you negotiated halfway with each of your negotiations.

You can end the negotiation by saying, “I am happy to accept your offer of $37,000, but because you knocked me down on the salary, I would also require an extra week’s leave (or any other small company benefit).”

You have now ended in this negotiation with an extra $7,000 in your salary, an extra week’s leave and a happy boss.


In Summary

Most job hunters are fearful during salary negotiations. But if you’ve already done the hard work and passed the job interview, it means the employer wants to recruit you because you have an added value that will increase profits for their company. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Because you know your job sector and position, you should know what the average salary is for someone with your skills and position. This will help you decide on what your initial baseline offer will be. Remember that if you’re unique and can offer something others can’t, you’ll be deemed more valuable than other employees, which means you can ask for more money.

So, to wrap up:

  • Before choosing which job offer to take, look at the salary and the financial benefits the company offers.
  • In the salary negotiation, you should set the baseline, and set it high (but realistic). All negotiations will be compared to this initial offer.
  • Don’t negotiate by meeting the employer halfway; just knock off about 20% each time.
  • Finally, when you’ve settled on the salary offer, making sure the employer feels as if they’ve won the negotiation but ask for a small additional extra.

What other strategies have you used when negotiating salary? Share your tips in the comments!


Chris Delaney is a career coach, founder of Employment King and author of The 73 Rules for Influencing the Interview using Psychology, NLP and Hypnotic Persuasion Techniques. Chris is a leading career coach from the UK, with over 10 years’ experience specializing in career coaching, employee motivation and specialist interview techniques. Connect with Chris and Employment King on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter or at


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