I'm not sure how to go into an upcoming job negotiation.
December 5, 2013 10:12 PM   Subscribe

Hi! I was just offered a job and will go in to negotiate the details of my employment. I'll be working for a company based in a European country that is trying to expand into the U.S. It's a sales position that will have me travelling around the northeast selling their product in specialty stores.

I've been through two interviews with the guy spearheading their North American expansion. I gave them an initial requested salary of $70,000. I'll be one of the only salespeople in the company and given their overseas popularity, I think they can afford it. They said they thought it was high, but refused to disclose what they were budgeting for the position. Health Insurance and compensation for the extensive travel required seemed to surprise him too. The only thing mentioned about pay was keeping me on some kind of freelance basis until next year when they can "file the necessary paperwork to officially hire me"

He's drilled into me a lot so he could see if I was a match for them, but I'm frustrated they've neglected to give me information I need to make a decision. They come off as a shady business to me.

How do I approach this? Is this standard stuff at this level of the business world? What are other important things I should be careful of negotiating?
posted by inTikiwetrust to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am coming from a software and services space:

You should be asking what the OTE is, your on target earnings - typically a mixture of base + variable against quota. You also need to understand what the territory is, what the travel cost reimbursement looks like, etc.

You can't take a job offer where you don't know what the offer is, right now they haven't presented you with an offer that presents a complete picture. It does not sound like a standard offer to me.
posted by iamabot at 10:21 PM on December 5, 2013

I'm no negotiation genius, but I worked for a large, Asian company for one of their offices in an emerging market country. I got reimbursed for all my travel and got a stipend for anything that was overnight. My boss, who made five times what you're asking, also got reimbursed for all his work-related travel. The company did not treat me well by any stretch of the imagination, but leaving aside the salary you asked (because I know nothing about the details of your position), the terms you are being offered (or not offered, as it were) are not reasonable.

Do not accept the offer until everything is clearly specified in writing and you are happy with those terms.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 12:30 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Why on earth were they advertising/interviewing for a position when they weren't in a position to "file paperwork"? If you accept a "freelance" position you should ask for nothing less than twice what you would accept as an employee, with all expenses paid including a per diem, because they may not feel very motivated to file the paperwork for a while and you will be paying higher taxes. If they don't switch you from contract to permanent employee in the next year would you be okay with what they offer you? Before accepting an offer you might want to have a session with an accountant to understand what the numbers on paper translate into dollars in your pocket.
posted by saucysault at 1:21 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

I only had to do it once, for different kind of work, and found it really stressful. The only things I can think are the 'obvious' basics - you want to get the best salary you can and they want to screw you as much as possible.. unless they are an unusually ethical company, which I'm not sensing here. It is well documented that women in particular find it hard 'selling' themselves in this way.
For future ref maybe go in higher than you hope for, make a point of 'selling' all that you can bring - I seem to recall mentioning that I was already taking a drop to transition to the Charity sector.. and try not to show reaction if they give you a sob story. Ugh. Good luck.
posted by tanktop at 1:24 AM on December 6, 2013

And with that "file paperwork" line I would be inclined to ask for a company credit card to charge expenses to, rather than submitting expenses paid from your personal account lest they delay in "filing paperwork" to reimburse you.
posted by saucysault at 1:24 AM on December 6, 2013

Nope, nope, nope.

Freelance? Fuck that.

Wait for a real job offer.

You can counter with, "I need to be hired as a full-time employee, with a benefits package, an expense account, and the salary we mentioned. Please forward the offer letter, with all of the above outlined so that I may consider the offer. If you aren't offering these things, then I'm going to have to decline your offer."

If you decided to be a consultant/1099 employee, then you charge TWICE what the hourly wage would be for the $70,000 so that you could cover your expenses. You'd also have a contract which guarantees a certain number of hours AND all expense reimbursement.

But don't do that.

This company does not sound like it has its shit together about a real expansion in the US. If so, they'd have SCM software, be incorporated, etc.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:21 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

There's nothing at all wrong, or unusual, in a foreign company having independent sales reps in the U.S. The deal terms are going to be varied -- sometimes fixed fee, sometimes commission -- and budgets for marketing and for travel and entertainment are going to vary as well. Salary and benefits are always going to be on the reps' side of the ledger though. $70k as a fee with no budget and no commission eligibility is very, very low for someone who is any good.
posted by MattD at 11:14 AM on December 6, 2013

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