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Salary negotiation is a subject most job seekers aren’t excited to discuss — and many don’t. In fact, 59 percent of American employees accepted the salary they were first offered rather than negotiating, according to a 2016 Glassdoor survey.

Unfortunately, money is often viewed as a faux pas topic. That’s why, when it comes to salary negotiation, many job seekers are left accepting less pay than they deserve or need.

With medical sales reps’ average base salaries at $95,791 in 2017, according to our 2017 Medical Sales Salary Report, a small percentage can mean a few thousand dollars difference in pay. Depending on the cost of living in your area or your personal needs, this can be a big deal.

It’s time to break through the awkwardness and learn how to negotiate salary in a way you’re comfortable with and that gets results. Here’s how you can negotiate salary without sounding like a money-hungry fiend:

Know what the company can pay

Just thinking about negotiating salary puts many people on the defensive. Take your boxing gloves off for a minute. Remember, recruiters are looking for the best reps for their teams. While they are prepared for — and even expect — you to negotiate salary, they can only do so much.

In fact, pay often depends on the size and capabilities of the medical company you are applying to. While you may have discovered the average base pay for a sales rep in your field, this company may not be able to afford that salary.

Find the company’s annual earnings report to help you determine what they can likely afford. Many companies, like Stryker, for example, have an investor relations page that has a wealth of information about acquisitions and earnings. Look at a few medical sales companies to see the difference in earnings.

Use these numbers in combination with average base salaries to get the most out of your negotiations without asking for well beyond the company’s means.

Be confident in what you deserve

In today’s job descriptions, you’ll frequently see “salary based on experience” at the bottom of the role’s details. While this seems like a fair way to assess pay grade, it makes negotiating even more challenging because you don’t have an immediate starting number or pay range to determine how they value experience or skills.  

To effectively advocate for yourself, you need to know the average pay you deserve based on your education, skills, and experiences across the industry. Start by doing your research. Use tools like our annual salary report, Paysa, and Payscale to find average base salaries for your job title.

Dig a bit deeper with Paysa’s resume app. This feature uses your resume info — an assessment of your skills, experience in the field, and job titles — to determine low, median, and high pay averages. Comparing these results to other sources gives you a more accurate view of what other reps are making and the base you should consider fair pay.  

Show you’re a team player

Obviously, storming into an interview and demanding the pay you deserve isn’t the best way to negotiate salary. However, being too timid won’t get you the desired results either.

Salary is a crucial part of any job — and recruiters know that. What they really want to know is that it isn’t your only, or even primary, interest. You need to prove to recruiters your customers, team, and company come above all else. This is especially true in medical sales because it’s a customer-centric business.

Unless the recruiter brings it up first, save salary-based questions for last. When prompted to ask questions, start by asking about the company.

For example, how do they equip sales reps with the resources they need to consistently put customers’ needs first? How do managers nurture a culture of teamwork? What are the main company-wide goals for the year and how do they plan to reach them? How will the candidate hired into this role play into that plan?

These questions show you’re interested in the company, ensuring you’re a great fit, and that goals and values align. Once you feel more comfortable, tell them you’d love to discuss salary now, if they have time, or in a near-future meeting.

Have you recently negotiated salary for your medical sales job? Tell us about your experience.

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