How to Negotiate Your Next Product Manager Salary

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post. Interested in collaborating? Email Gabriela Araujo at gaby(at)productschool.com

If you are in the market for a new role or have been in your current role for a while it might be time for you to learn how to negotiate your salary.

There are a number of events that will signal that it’s time for you to ask for more money. The trigger could be your employer winning new business, excelling at achieving your targets, taking on more responsibilities, learning new skills or readjusting your wages.  

A survey by Robert Half revealed that only 39% of people they surveyed negotiated their last salary. Recruiters have reported seeing a spike in the number of people trying to negotiate an offer. The good news is that this means the employers and recruiters are anticipating the discussion and will make a provision for your request.

Here are 5 tips to help you improve your next salary negotiation.

1. Do your research

Information is your number one advantage in a negotiation. The more information you have, the more confident you will be about your ask. More information also means you will be more informed about the tradeoffs and understand the best fall back position. There is no shortage of salary information and as technology gets better this information will become more refined and accurate.

My personal favourites are annual salary surveys by recruitment agencies, job boards, LinkedIn salary insights, networking, and Glassdoor. The salary range for a product manager’s compensation can be huge making it difficult to know what you should be paid. How much you are offered is also dependent on many factors such as starting salary, experience, sector, location, employer size, domain expertise, technology and more. Find out the specifics around the role you are negotiating for.

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2. Pick your moment

The recruitment process can take months from when you first make your interest known to actually receiving the offer. Whether this is deliberately or incidentally done, this wait creates adverse negotiating conditions for you. So by the time you receive the offer, you are likely to just accept it because you’re so ready to leave your current role or salary bracket.

Resist the urge to accept an offer without taking time to consider it. Buy yourself time and ask for time to review everything. I like to talk about the money when it’s the only thing we are focusing on. Details around the offer and starting the job can easily take over the conversation and stop you from negotiating your offer. If that happens, take the details on offer and review them on your own. This will allow you to start afresh and then set the agenda to focus the discussion on what you want.

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3. Learn to ask

You get what you negotiate not what you think you deserve. Negotiating your salary is not easy, because talking about money is generally frowned upon. Asking for money can be awkward but it doesn’t have to be.  

Generally, a lot of people find it challenging to assign a value or worth to their skills – it’s an uncomfortable zone for many. However, you don’t suddenly learn how to negotiate big things without getting comfortable with small things. Start with your phone contract renewal, the service with your next tradesman or haggle (which is different to negotiating) when you purchase from individuals that are open to price discussions.

It doesn’t matter if you succeed or not, you will learn important lessons around signals that it’s ok to talk money, where the value in a transaction is and other valuable triggers in negotiating. In the long run, it teaches you comfortable and confident to ask when it matters.

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4. Tradeoffs and alternatives

It’s important to note that the outcomes of negotiating your salary are fixed. By this I mean the answer falls into “yes”, “maybe” or “no” responses. If you get a yes, that’s easy your outcome is achieved. Maybe means you need to understand where the tradeoffs lie and find alternatives that allow you to achieve your fall back position. It doesn’t have to just be about the money and you can present beneficial outcomes for both parties. An example of this being a training and development budget for specific courses, certification, coaching or conferences.

If the answer is no, don’t be dejected or start feeling like a failure. Use the right questions to uncover the reason. Sometimes the opportunity or timing isn’t right or you have a gap you need to close or there is a misconception you need to correct. If you don’t ask you will not find out what the reason is, which points you towards when you can ask again. No might not be final in your salary negotiation if you uncover what else is behind the decision that you may not be aware of.

Avoid making assumptions. Taking the time to understand the outcome may give you signals of when to negotiate again.

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5. Stay professional

Staying professional is a decision you should make regardless of the outcome. You should be professional in how you ask, how you respond and conduct yourself during your salary negotiation. Look out for signals that your responses are not being received well and use them to tailor your approach and message.

Always look for a win-win outcome and value preserving your integrity and the relationship over the outcome. This requires you to have a long-term view that a “no”, is not forever and the right attitude and approach will steer you towards getting a favourable response in the future.

Finally, negotiating is tough and dependent on so many variables. It takes time to master this valuable skill that you can use in your role as a product manager or life outside work.

Do you always negotiate your salary? Are you more likely to try now?


Meet the Author:
Benedicta Banga

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Benedicta Banga is an experienced Product Management leader with a strong background in vendor management and project management. Currently, she works as an IT Product Manager at Jaguar Land Rover in the UK.  In 2018, she created www.prodsprint.co.uk where she shares Product Management tips every month! Benedicta is also an events organiser for Product School events happening in Birmingham.  

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