Strike your best deal and feel good about it! Here are tips from one of the country’s top negotiation experts.

Salary NegotiationWhat are your salary requirements?  What does the right package look like for you?  Those questions can be tough to answer, especially if you’ve lost a big job and you’re rethinking your worth, or if you’re ready to make a change after a long time at one company and you’re unsure how to value your expertise.

No doubt about it: this is a delicate economic climate.  Many companies are cash rich and needing to bolster their workforce. At the same time, massive consolidation creates job duplication and ultimately, cut backs.  How should you price yourself in the face of these seemingly contradictory forces? I asked Matthew Mitchell, Business Consultant and Negotiations Expert for his advice.

First, do your homework. Find out everything you can about your prospective client or employer:

1.      Assess the company’s economic situation

Ask about current revenue and forecasts for future earnings.

2.      Feel out the political situation with your future boss

Is the person you would report to an ally, neutral or negative?

3.      Is your expertise mission critical?

Do a self-assessment of what makes you essential and what skills are needed to succeed in your new role.

The answers to these questions will guide the way you move forward in negotiating your salary and perks. For example, if the company is growing, you have desirable skills and the new boss is sponsoring you and wants to work collaboratively, then you’re in a powerful place to negotiate.

When the time comes, enter negotiations with quiet confidence — arrogance is a deal killer.

Don’t open negotiations with a number and don’t come in like you have it all figured out.  Be respectful.  Have a point-of-view and be confident.  Show enthusiasm and an appetite for the company’s specific challenges.

If the company is going through tough times and needs you to help turn things around, but they don’t have the money to pay you what you’ve earned in the past, here are some lines you can tailor to your situation to help you negotiate for what you need:

“What budget does the company have to incentivize highly productive, loyal employees and what is the promotion path?  How long would it take if things go well to make the salary I earned in my last job?”

“How do you expect to attract top talent at this pay rate?  Here is the least of what I’m willing to accept from you. If you can justify it at this level, then let’s move forward otherwise, contact me when you can get to that range.”

Once you come to an agreement, it will be an ongoing dialogue of apprising the company of your successes and meeting those agreements over time.

What if you’re feeling off your game? How do you arrive at the negotiating table from a place of strength when you feel beaten down?  If possible, reschedule or postpone negotiations.  Otherwise, stay confident by being in a state of gratitude for the things you have going for you.  Remind yourself before you go in who you are and what you’re made of.  Then present yourself confidently, not desperately, so you can get the best deal possible.

It’s imperative to be present to who you are now, and not live in the past, carrying around expectations and resentments will sabotage your success.