Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Negotiation Technique #1: Going Out on the Balcony

Salary negotiations are always nerve-racking, nail-biting and perhaps exhilarating. Being a recruiter, I've probably been involved in more salary negotiations than the average Joe. Negotiating your salary is always stressful because you are down to the final step, you most likely are very interested in the position, and don't want to sound too greedy or too needy. So once you are at the final stage, and most likely have at least addressed potential salary ranges and compensation models, you may want to have one last weapon in your negotiation arsenal. One of the best techniques to employ is the "going out on the balcony" tactic.

What is this technique you ask. One of the best ways to get a little breathing room once a true offer is on the table is to take a moment before accepting the position. At this point, the company wants you, and you want the job. Now you need to see if the salary is in line. Upon getting the offer, tell your contact that you want to look it over and think about it. Next you can do a few different things. 1. Go out on the balcony and scream "woo-hoo" at the top of your lungs, 2. talk over the position with your family, or 3. completely disregard it because it is so out of the realm of possibility for you in terms of salary.

By taking this moment to consider it, you are telling the company that you want to carefully weigh the opportunity and the salary that accompanies it. You are able to discuss the new role with your family to make sure it fits in with your needs and lifestyle choices. This break during the negotiation also puts the situation in your hands, perhaps making the company realize how much they want you. If you come back from your break on the balcony to tell them that while you are interested in the position, you need $X to really make the necessary sacrifices to your personal life, etc, it will be received understanding that you really considered all elements of the offer.

Now how long you need to hang out "on the balcony" is your call--there really are no rules. If you are sure the offer is fair and what you are looking for, tell them you are accepting the offer as soon as you can. If you are really struggling with an element of the offer, you can take several hours, or a day or two. But you want to keep the negotiations alive, and as you take longer to decide, the potential employer starts feeling that you may not be as committed to the company as they would like. So taking your time can help but taking too long can possibly hurt your negotiations.

I think the best rule of thumb is to let the employer know how long you need to think it over. That way they know when they will hear back from you, and can start planning accordingly.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

And You Can Also Trust Your Winemaker

Yesterday I wrote about how I buy wine--and to trust your wine shop clerk. Over the weekend I was talking to a wine lover outside of the wine biz, and he asked me how I buy wine. While I told him I like the local shops, I also revealed my new way to buy wine--call up my friendly winemaker and have them send me a case. No, this isn't bribery--I always pay and am happy to keep small labels going and give fledgling labels a boost. I enjoy knowing who made my wine, and often can try new varietals and blends. It is a bit of the eat local, buy local trend that is going on right now--but for me it is a bit like the artwork in my house--all originals and by or from friends. Drink Local!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Take Their Advice: Why you can Trust your Wine Shop Staff

Recently one of the discussions threads in my LinkedIn group was asking how people decide to try a new wine. It was asking how people take the plunge with a high priced bottle of wine. Having traveled Northern California's wine country extensively, and having seen a good deal of the European wine country, I know there is a lot I don't know. I also know there are so many wines, I could never get to know a tiny fraction of them. So how can a consumer wade through the wine section and make a good decision, let along sink some major cash into 750 mls of a perishable product.

Well, for many people, wine scores help. I am perfectly happy to read my Wine Spectator and see how wines are doing. When I get a fancy bottle at an auction or as a gift, I steal away to my computer to see how it fared with the palates of those who taste a lot of wine. While I keep my own tasting notes, it is fun to look at those of the experts and see if I detected the same characteristics.

But I'm a big fan of trying the road less traveled, and there are a lot of wines out there that never make it in front of the wine critics. So when I go into a wine shop to try some new wines, what do I do? I ask the wine shop staff what I should try. Yes, I use some sage advice I gleaned from the Wall Street Journal's former wine writers, and tell the clerk what my budget is--which is often $20, $15 or $10 and lower. When I have a good clerk they don't see these price points as a problem, but more as a challenge. I've had some great $8 wines that to this day I want more of.

So why the heck would I trust a clerk at a wine shop? Because they often get to taste the wines, and at a good shop, have tasted all the wines they recommend, and know my palate. Dick's Picks at Taylor's market seem to be perfect for my tastes--and are often unusual wines I wouldn't have tried otherwise.

I also encourage people to go to wine shops where they can try before they buy. Getting to have a taste of the $50 Napa Cab before you buy it makes you know you are going to like it, and maybe even buy an extra bottle for a friend. Here locally Selland's market does a great job of letting you have several nice wines to try that are also for sale in the small wine shop. Too often I walk out of there with a mixed case running the gamut of bottle prices.

So, next time that nice person at the wine shop asks you if you need help--say yes. Don't be afraid to tell them your budget, and say what your preferences are. I've even made friends this way--Corti Bros has been a great wine buying venue for me for years now.

And whether the wine shops like it or not, I do like to know when a wine scores well with the critics. But they themselves are some of my favorite critics.

And one last thing. Don't think you know nothing about wine, but only what you like. You know something already--what you like. Go out and see what else you might like, and enjoy yourself.