Getting an Offer Accepted without Negotiation
There is an old lawyer’s axiom – Never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to. It’s an attempt to elicit certain answers, and ensure you’re getting what you need from the response. However, this saying applies to employers extending job offers to management level candidates. Too many clients extend offers before they know if the candidate will accept, only to get rejected.
Once the offer is extended, the power shifts to the candidate, and often, that is when negotiation begins. The negotiation should be done before the offer is extended. An employer should know whether the offer will be accepted, before they actually give the offer to the candidate. Here is what the employer should ask before extending the offer:
- What other factors will influence acceptance?
- These could include: benefits, bonus, growth potential, relocation issues, spouse’s job, kids in high school, elderly parents, etc. Address these issues before discussing money, and the money becomes easier to discuss.
- What are the non-monetary reasons the candidate wants to come to my company, and/or leave his/her current company?
- What are all the components of the candidate’s current compensation package? Which are important?
- At the management level, equity and bonus packages can be complex. A full comprehension of what the candidate is receiving at the current company will help you identify what you need to present an attractive offer. Some candidates don’t care about bonuses, and want a higher base; others want the opposite. Comparing their current compensation and all its facets will additionally support a quantitative-based approach.
- What is the minimum level at which the candidate will walk away?
- Would a sign-on bonus (one-time payment) substitute for some salary (permanent cost)?
When an employer takes in all the factors and truly understands the candidate’s motivation, then a “test” offer can be given, accompanied by a “trial close.” “If we offered you X, would you accept?” If you get a response “I’d have to think about it,” then you have to discover all the things the candidate would be thinking about, until you get a “yes, I’d accept“. Then the next day, you can extend the offer, and know that you’ll get a yes.
There are often many challenges to candidate acceptance. A factor that you hadn’t considered could be the reason a candidate declines to move forward. By taking a conscientious, methodical approach to gathering information – you realize compensation goes beyond base and bonus. Offers are now encompassing and comprehensive packages to the candidate to meet their expectations.
In addition to this complexity, as an employer, you are expected to maintain awareness of legal boundaries to asking compensation. There is an increasing pattern of laws preventing you from directly asking for details of salary within the US. While it’s illegal in some states to directly ask about current compensation, there is nothing preventing you from asking about expectations. Ultimately, expectations are the negotiation. In executive level roles, we find that candidates continue to disclose their compensation information to ensure no one is wasting their time pursing opportunities that are not a fit.