Few industries are as gender-oriented as professional sports, and one female pioneer put a massive hole in the glass ceiling by negotiating like a girl. That’s right; former Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask released a memoir about her front-office experiences called “You Negotiate Like a Girl: Reflections on a Career in the National Football League” that highlights the value of hard work and business skills.
Dubbed “The Princess of Darkness” by the fanatical Raider Nation, Trask took a winning-is-everything approach with the organization that vaulted her from intern to franchise decision-maker. Her advice about achieving success is to do your job 100 percent all the time, and, in terms of obstacles, “The best protest is to succeed.” Today’s professional women require tremendous business acumen to advance salaries and receive other business opportunities, and it all starts with solid negotiations.
Negotiating a Salary
For practical purposes, let’s break salary negotiation into two groups: Career veterans and workforce newcomers. People who have been in an industry for a lengthy period of time come to the table with a comprehensive resume, experience and references. You are likely to have already established an industry reputation. If you have notable accomplishments, they may precede any formal interactions. But keep a focus on the things that push your numbers up. For example:
- Secret of My Success: The best strategy for accomplished professionals is to point to key successes and draw a clear connection to how you can do similar things for the new company. Improved efficiency, cost reduction or bringing in new business equates to profit upticks and makes you valuable. Don’t hesitate to run the numbers in a negotiation.
- Knowledge Is Power: Companies generally have a salary range in mind that is based on experience and other factors. Demonstrating a comprehensive understanding about the industry, company and position should have your dollars trending upward. Also, articulate that you are capable of handling multiple roles within the company. During her Raiders career, Amy Trask was well-known for poking her nose into every department. Ownership understood her breadth of knowledge, and that helped her climb the ladder.
Industry newcomers face a tougher road to high salaries. You won’t have experience to lean on, so use other negotiating leverage.
- Education: You won’t have an extensive resume, but making connections between your scholarly knowledge and its real-life application can help augment starting pay. Many companies see classroom study as theoretical. It’s important that they believe you’ll hit the ground running.
- Confidence: One strategy when discussing a position is to ask questions about advancement before you have secured the job. Let the interviewer know that your plan is to move up in the company. That notion accomplishes two things: confidence and commitment.
It’s important to understand that in any organization, you are “in it together.” Business contracts bring in revenue, and the more money you can pull to your outfit, the greater the earning potential for you and your colleagues. That being said, a good deal is one that benefits both parties. One-sided agreements tend to be short-lived and are unlikely to expand your organization’s long-term portfolio.
- Do the Math: Create an accurate cross-departmental calculation about the profits and other benefits a deal could yield. Then, try to assess where the line for the other company will fall. Simply put, run the numbers on both sides and identify the sweet spot.
- Strategic Placement: Most companies negotiate within an industry framework. You may have competitors vying for the same business. Understand the implications of how this situates your business in terms of position, reputation and attracting future contracts. The goal should be to move toward the top of the field.
- Good Cop, Bad Cop: When the other side is chomping at the bit to get a deal done, having a colleague in the room that advocates against certain parts of the deal can be fruitful. If it seems like gamesmanship, that’s because negotiations do involve attitudes. You may find the other side gives a tad more to grease the skids and get a deal signed.
It’s important for businesswomen to possess the negotiations skills that lead to high salaries, viable contracts and the type of success Amy Trask earned in the professional sports world. Negotiate like a girl!