The Sales Rep’s Guide to Getting a Raise

If there’s one thing that just about everyone would be happy with, it’s earning more money. Frequently, that comes in the form of raises. But for sales reps, managers can simply say, “Just sell more”. So the question when you work in sales becomes how do you ask for and get a raise? In this post, we’ll be discussing ways you can get that boost to your income. Note: We’re talking here about a raise in your salary, not adjusting the commission plan.

  1. Honestly assess with yourself whether you legitimately deserve a raise. You can save yourself a lot of time, hassle, and grief by first taking a hard look at your accomplishments thus far and determining if they merit a raise. For example, have you consistently met and exceeded quota? How frequently have you done so? How much revenue have you added to the company on a month over month and year over year basis? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, forget about discussing a raise for now and develop the habit of meticulously tracking your results so that you have the data to back up your claims.Also consider how long you’ve been with the company. The general rule of thumb is to wait at least a year – anything short of that, no matter how much of a rock star you are, you simply haven’t been there long enough to prove the consistency of your value to your employer.
  2. Plant the seed by reporting particularly noteworthy accomplishments. If you’ve landed a huge account or won a sales contest, make sure your supervisor and decision makers about your salary know. Reminding them periodically of your big wins keeps your successes fresh in their minds so that you’re not just dumping it all on them at once. But don’t overdo it – reserve the broadcasting for the truly significant milestones.
  3. Research, gather, and organize your data. You should be keeping a running tabulation of your achievements as noted in Point 1, but when you’re ready to ask for a raise, compile all the relevant data and statistics into a well-organized, easy to read document that higher ups can peruse to get a snapshot of everything you’ve done.This isn’t limited to just what you’ve done, by the way – also consult several sources to see what sales reps of your experience level and title are earning in your general geographical area – the smaller the land unit the better. For large cities, city data. For small and mid-sized locales, take a look at state or even regional payrates.
  4. Know your number and make it reasonable. Talking about money is often uncomfortable. Asking for money is even more awkward. As a result, many sales reps don’t go into negotiations with a desired number in mind and end up settling for a disappointing increase, if one at all. Rule of thumb: Most raises range from 1 to 5%. Larger increases are usually the result of a major disparity between what the rep is making and what the industry standard is, a major change in the company’s fortunes (which the raise-seeking rep will naturally have contributed to), or both.
  5. Remove emotion from the equation. We get it – cost of living is increasing, wages haven’t met with inflation, a new addition to the family suddenly disrupted your budget, etc. But discussions about raises should be framed in terms of logic and rational business sense. Taking the emotion out will make the discussion less stressful for all involved. Not to mention, as you know from your own sales career, to negotiate from a position of need is to negotiate from a position of weakness.As part of unhitching emotion, be calm in discussing your raise. No matter how underpaid you might feel, going on the offensive can make your boss defensive, and while you certainly want to highlight all the wonderful work you’ve done, you also don’t want to come off as bragging.
  6. Schedule the raise request at an appropriate time. Timing matters. For most raise discussions, the monthly, quarterly, or yearly performance review (depending on the company and the industry) are logical places to talk about a pay increase.
  7. If the answer is no, use it as an opportunity. Sometimes, no matter how well you’ve planned and feel you’re justified, the answer is no. In that situation, ask what you can do, if anything, to improve for next time. Then take that response and create a plan of action for reaching those goals. Then, at the next discussion, you’ll be able to refer back to those goals and demonstrate how you’ve achieved them – thereby making your case stronger.Even if there isn’t anything you can do – perhaps the company just isn’t in a financial position, or the organization’s policies have capped how much your position can earn (often seen in large firms), thank them for taking time out of their day to speak with you. While you’re likely disappointed or angry, maintain a graceful and respectful attitude.

Navigating the waters of raises is never easy, but if you think deeply, plan meticulously, and approach the matter in the right way by using this guide, you can give yourself the greatest possible chance to win the pay increase you deserve.