Negotiating Your Base And Comp Package

Learn how to ask for more, leverage multiple offers, and juggle base and OTE to land the comp package of your dreams.

7 months ago   •   4 min read

By Bravado Staff

Negotiating a competitive base and compensation package at the end of a long interview process can be an intimidating undertaking for a salesperson at any step in their career. Luckily Bravado has all the tips, tricks, and trade secrets you’ll need to land the offer of your dreams.

Come Prepared

You wouldn’t close a deal without researching a prospect. Work your sources and do your research. Try and find out what other salespeople at your company are making, what their size is, what comparable companies are paying. Make an honest assessment of yourself as a candidate. Are you bringing a massive win rate, or are you sneaking under the wire? This can affect your bargaining power. Understand the field before you make a play.

Know Your Worth * Cough Cough *

Don’t set foot into salary negotiations without checking with industry sources what standard pay for the role you’re negotiating for is. Websites like Glassdoor can provide perfectly mediocre information that you can use to have a vague idea of what salespeople at a company are making or were making during the Obama presidency.

But as it just so happens, there’s a better one. Bravado wrote a comprehensive guide on the state of sales compensation for 2022 that members can read completely free!

Read the 2022 Bravado State Of Sales Comp Guide today.

Give Yourself A Reality Check

We’re going to be frank: Ask yourself how little you’d be happy with. What is your minimum to feel like it is worth it to start a new job, learn new software, and commit to 3+ months of onboarding. Don’t chase an offer that doesn’t satisfy you. In sales, job tenures under a year can be a red flag. How little would you be okay with making for a full year?

Base vs. OTE

Think of your base as the comp you need to feel comfortable, and your OTE as the amount of money you’d need to feel successful. This calculus can vary from person to person, but remember that it’s always easier to negotiate a dollar of OTE than a dollar of base.

If you’re bullish on your prospects at a job, maybe it’s okay to sacrifice a few thousand dollars base for ten thousand OTE. If you’re uncertain of the work and want to hedge your bets, maybe a higher base is right for you. It’s ultimately about striking a balance between what you need and what you’d like.

Don’t ever take a comp package where you wouldn’t be financially stable if you didn’t hit quota, and always ask what the ramp is like. Unless it’s a split for the first few months, you might as well just assume your OTE is a fantasy until you get your footing.

The Highs And Lows Of Equity

Many start-up sales jobs will offer a significant percentage of your compensation in equity, which is why it’s crucial to take a critical eye of any potential small employer’s business before accepting a role. Your equity may be worth a million dollars if the startup becomes a unicorn, but slow your roll: Most startups go to zero. Think of your stock compensation as icing on the cake, but don’t take less than you deserve, even if it comes at a startup discount.
On the other hand, stock options at a larger company may be more reliable, but don’t expect to buy an island with them.

Argue For Yourself

It’s your interviewer’s job to argue for their company. It’s your job to argue for yourself. Don’t negotiate yourself down before you even start. You may feel the impulse to ask low so as to increase your odds, but this can backfire. Asking too little may show your employer you don’t value yourself.
When in doubt, take what the market says you’re worth and add $10,000. If they negotiate you down, you get industry standard. If they don’t, hey, you just got an extra vacation.

When In Doubt Of The Salary Range, Ask, Ask Again.

Don’t be scared to ask for the budget allotted to the role. Employers may try to deflect or turn the question back to you, but be persistent. It ultimately might come down to who flinches first, and knowing the sales salary range gives you one more tool to negotiate with.

Uncommon Arrangements

Some companies may offer uncommon compensation packages, such as 100% OTE, or no quota ramp. These should always be viewed with suspicion. Don’t trust an interviewer to tell you how many people at the company are hitting quota. Maybe you live rent free and can afford the risk of making zero dollars some months, but don’t change your calculus of needs and wants just because a high OTE sales job sounds enticing.

More Offers, More Money

Nothing gives you leverage quite like multiple offers, so pull as much interest as you can and interview at as many businesses as possible. The market for salespeople is incredibly tight, and another company trying to hire you will show an interviewer that you’re in high demand. To put it another way: Get one offer and you’re haggling. Get three offers and you’re in a bidding war.

Argue For The Short Term, Plan In The Long Term

When it comes to negotiating your comp package, more is always better. But when it’s time to evaluate your offers, an eye on the future is also important. You may have one offer for $80k/140k OTE at a company with very little upward mobility, vs. an offer for $70k/120k OTE at a company where you could be promoted very easily. If you can afford it, always play the long game. Think about how the role you accept will position your career three years down the line. Ask yourself: Do I like what I see?

Closing Thoughts

Negotiating a competitive comp package to not leave a single dollar on the table can be a daunting prospect, but sales departments are not a charity program: You deserve to make as much as the company is willing to give you. If you stay the course, know your worth, and come prepared with the information to back it up, you’ll impress your sales interviewer and land a comp package that will have your peers green with envy in no time.

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