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(Cinders McLeod/The Globe and Mail)
(Cinders McLeod/The Globe and Mail)

Nine To Five

I pull in millions in sales. How do I negotiate a raise? Add to ...

The Question

I have been happily employed for more than 10 years as the only salesperson for a family-owned manufacturing business. I bring in about 20 per cent of the total annual sales volume and have brought in about $16-million in sales in 10 years.

First, I was on commission. But six years ago, out of my own initiative, my role expanded to include marketing and promotions. During this time, I successfully re-branded the company.

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I made a proposal to be on salary because I needed the security of a fixed income.

I have a young family and am a single parent. They agreed, and at the time, this was a win-win for both myself and my employer.

The company doesn’t have a formal human resources department or policies regarding salary increases. In the past five years they laid off employees, cut costs and made changes to be more profitable. But now, business is good.

But I have not had a bonus, or salary or cost of living increase in the past six years. This is demoralizing and financially difficult.

My value to the company has been proven, I have been approached by competitors, but I do not want to leave. I work predominately from home, and I enjoy what I do. Any strategies to get a raise?

The First Answer

Greg Conner

Vice-president, human resources, League Financial Partners, Victoria

First of all, know you are not alone. In my experience it is usually only the squeaky wheel that gets what it deserves when it comes to a raise.

My best advice is to treat this like a cold call. As a sales person, you know what you need to do. You need data (know what you are worth), and the value you have brought to the organization, also known as your value proposition.

Be clear and concise. Let your employer know how much you are looking for (be realistic), and demonstrate why you deserve what you are asking for (tie it to results). Note: Stay away from your personal circumstances as a reason why you need a raise.

Remind your employer how you have taken on new projects and assignments, acquired new skills, furthered your education, and added value. You will get the best outcome if you understand the employer’s financial position and how you will be part of their future success. Be flexible about the timing of a potential raise – don’t think all or nothing. Remain focused on the future, and what you will continue to contribute to the success of the organization.

Finally, as much as you love your current employer, if you do not get satisfaction, do not burn any bridges, just thank them for discussing your compensation and then polish up your résumé and start looking.

The Second Answer

Colleen Clarke

Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto

The best way to get a raise if it is not offered is to ask for it. Always enter into negotiations knowing what you want and prepare, prepare, prepare. Research the industry standard for your position at your seniority level to ascertain how much you should be asking for.

Arrange a meeting with your boss to discus your pay increase. Tell your boss you are asking

for the raise because of the accomplishments and contributions you have made, and the additional responsibilities you have taken on.

Present a report documenting your goals and achievements over the past six years and how that’s helped the company. Document cost savings, customer relations, business development, days of absenteeism, and contributions you have made over and above your job description. Include all the results you have generated with dollar amounts, percentages and the unit amounts sold.

It is up to you to suggest a percentage or dollar increase. Start a bit high as you can be sure the company will counter with something lower.

Be prepared to negotiate. Consider asking for non-taxable benefits in place of a salary increase if they balk at a monetary increase. More vacation time, increase in mileage, time in lieu, educational support, and scholarships for your children are a few common negotiable items.

If you get turned down, ask your boss what you need to do to qualify for the highest possible pay raises and bonuses in the future. Ideally, revisit your request in three months.

Are you facing a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that minefield? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com. Confidentiality ensured. Weigh in with your view at tgam.ca/careers. Check out past columns here.

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