Negotiating for the job of a Product Manager

How to negotiate a job offer as a new product manager?


10 Steps How to Negotiate Your Product Manager Salary Offer:

  1. Know what you want…
  2. What other options do you have?
  3. Determine your walk away point.
  4. Build leverage before you need it.
  5. Do some research.
  6. Understand the company.
  7. The success plan.
  8. Negotiate.
  9. Maintain relationships.
  10. What’s your start date?

I hope when you negotiate your job offer you are looking at more than just the salary offer. For example, vacation, working conditions, benefits, etc. This is an example of an integrative negotiation or integrative bargaining. However, in this situation, you work with the employer to create a “win-win” agreement. You benefit from employment and the company benefits from an additional resource. Since multiple issues are at stake, depending on interests and values there is more opportunity for a give and take.


Prepare. Effective negotiators prepare a lot. Front-loading much of the work makes it easier to negotiate. Preparation is so important a topic that it needs to be broken further down.

Know what you want: Sounds relatively simple, however, you don’t want to be thinking about it during a negotiation. Kow what you want before going into a negotiation.

Determine your BATNA. A BATNA is a Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. In other words, what happens if you cannot reach an agreement? What’s the alternative?
For example, going back to our job offer where you received an offer for $20k less than what you wanted.
In this situation, potential BATNA’s could be: If you are currently employed. Staying at your current job is an alternative.
Or if you are not currently employed. Your alternative may be to remain unemployed and continue looking for another job.
Or if you have Competing offer. A competiting offer that is also a potential alternative.

Develop a list of alternatives before so in the back of your mind if the discussion fails you know the alternatives clearly. Rank them from most desirable to least desirable.

Determine your walk-away point:
Before you start negotiating, think about a walk-away point (like a line in the proverbial sand). At some point when the discussion just doesn’t feel like it’s progressing, you already know where your bottom line is and can walk away.


Why people don’t negotiate salary?
Do you negotiate?
In my opinion, salary negotiation is very difficult. There are so many different schools of thought here. Typically when I look back at my own personal situation the following reasons come to mind why I didn’t negotiate when I first started my career.

Fear of losing the offer.
Appearing to be money-driven. Negotiation is tough and you may feel that negotiating shows that you are money-driven and you think that creates a bad impression.

Not know what your self-worth is.
Lack of comparables or not enough information out there to compare similar positions. I think the last one: “lack of comparables…” now should not be as much of an issue as say 20 years ago. There is so much information online. There really is no excuse not to do your research.


A few tips on how do you negotiate a job offer with a hiring manager?

Find out how much your expertise is worth before salary negotiation talks.

Establish a connection with your negotiator.

Don’t bring up your salary.

Don’t focus entirely on the salary as you negotiate.

Make all of your requests at once when negotiating.

Make it clear how hiring you will make the employer better off.

Don’t exaggerate.

Don’t give an ultimatum.


For anyone entering into a product management salary negotiation, it’s critical to keep a few concepts top of mind:

You have value.
You wouldn’t be this far along in the process if they don’t think you’re going to be an asset to the company and are willing to invest in you. So act like it during negotiations.

Don’t count on a raise.
Accepting a lower salary with the expectation that you’ll be so impressive once you start working that they’ll increase your compensation down the line is usually a bad move. Promotions and raises—even cost of living increases—are no longer a sure thing, so you should be prepared to make your initial salary for several years.

Know your floor and stick to it.
Figure out the absolute minimum you’re willing to take, and don’t let the attractiveness of the role or company deter you from demanding it. If you can’t cover your expenses, save for retirement, or afford a vacation, you’ll quickly start resenting the company for low-balling you (and yourself for taking it).

Understand the details.
Stock options and equity are great perks in an offer, but make sure you understand the details. The number of options a startup promise means nothing without knowing the total shares outstanding and their overall prospects. The same goes for free food and on-site massages.

Start on a positive note.
Settling for a lower number than your ideal salary is OK, but you want to start your job feeling good about the move and not offended or remorseful about your package.

Less can be more.
Taking a pay cut or accepting the lower of two offers for the right reasons is OK. Working on something you’re passionate about, having coworkers and managers that you love and respect, or even a shorter commute and flexible hours that let you spend more time with your family are all perfectly acceptable reasons to settle on a slightly lower number than you’d prefer.