How to Negotiate Salary for Product Managers

An illustatrion of a handshake surrounded by an office building, magnifying glass, resume, and money to represent salary negotiation for product managers.

11-minute read

In this article, we’ll explore the importance of salary negotiation for product managers, offer 12 tips to navigate conversations with your future employer, and share advice on how to research salary.

Interviewing for a job is an exciting experience. Even more exciting? Getting a job offer! While being asked to join a new team is flattering, salary and compensation are essential in deciding whether to accept the offer. 

So, what do you do if the salary doesn’t align with your expectations or needs? You can choose to negotiate salary for more money or negotiate for additional benefits. 

Why You Should Negotiate Your Salary

Here’s a shocking fact – your salary at your first job has a lifelong impact on earning potential. Accepting the initial offer at your first job and failing to negotiate raises over your career can reduce your earnings by over $1 million over your lifetime. You may wonder how to negotiate a salary if you’ve never done it. For some, asking for more can feel uncomfortable or even greedy. Furthermore, women, people of color, and queer folks are often systemically discouraged from negotiating

The good news is that it’s never too late to negotiate a higher salary. We’ll show you how.

Tips for Negotiating Salary

We’ve compiled a list of tips and best practices to help you start salary negotiation conversations with grace and professionalism. Here are 12 tips from product experts on negotiating salary for your next product manager role.

Tip 1: Always Negotiate

Although negotiating your salary may initially feel uncomfortable, hiring recruiters and hiring managers are accustomed to negotiating salaries with new hires. In fact, 70% of hiring managers expect candidates to negotiate salary. So, it’s likely that salary negotiation is common practice for your prospective employer. 

Tip 2: Understand Your Career Goals

During the interview process- and ideally, before you receive an initial offer- clearly understand what you want out of the role. You may take on more responsibilities and pressure for a higher salary. Or, you might accept a lower salary if the new position offers perks like flexible scheduling or remote work. 

Taking the time to understand your goals and the value you ascribe to them will help you enter negotiations with a clear head.

Tip 3: Identify Your Strengths

Understanding what you have to offer your prospective employer before you start negotiating is very important. You want your negotiations to be grounded in data and reasonable for what you bring to the table. Here are some things to consider:

  • Industry Experience: Number of years of experience in the field
  • Leadership Experience: Number of years in leadership positions 
  • Skills: Skills that are specific to the role. For product managers, this might be market research, feature prioritization, product roadmapping, or other specific skills
  • Product Portfolio: How your portfolio and past product work align with the company’s expectations for the role
  • Certifications: Whether you’ve earned advanced certifications that show expertise in your field, such as a Product Manager Certification 
  • Education: Whether your educational experience meets the job’s requirements or supports the role’s essential functions

Tip 4: Research Your Market Value

Knowing the market average for the role you’re negotiating for can give you a significant advantage. Average salaries provide a reference point for the company’s initial offer and help you frame your counteroffer.

Sites like PayScaleIndeed, and ZipRecruiter can help you research the average salary for product managers. We’ll explore this in more detail later in the article.

Tip 5: Pick Your Ideal Salary – Then Aim Higher

Evaluate your goals, strengths, and market value against the role’s responsibilities. Based on those factors, select a salary range that meets your needs. A fundamental rule of salary negotiation is picking a salary number slightly higher than your goal. 

For example, if your ideal salary range is $105,000-115,000, you might request a salary of $118,000. That way, if the company negotiates down, you will still be within your ideal range. 

Be sure that you understand the role and responsibilities for which you are giving a target salary. Ideally, get the job description in writing so you have a documented, clear understanding of what the role requires. 

A word of advice: if you choose to communicate a salary range, be sure that you feel comfortable accepting a salary at the bottom of the range. For example, if you give a range of $110,000-$120,000, ensure you’re satisfied with making $110,000. Employers often orient their offer toward the bottom of your given range. 

Tip 6: Practice Negotiating the Salary Offer

As you prepare your pitch and complete salary research, you should practice your salary negotiation talking points. 

Prepare Your Case

Synthesize your goals, strengths, and market value into a few quick talking points. Explain why you’re a good fit for the role. Then, highlight what you can bring to the company and showcase relevant past accomplishments. Quantify your achievements when possible by citing key metrics (such as “under my leadership, our team increased productivity 15% in 6 months”). If you have relevant training or Product Management Certifications, you can use those as leverage for a higher base salary.  

Finally, based on your research, frame your requested salary against the average salaries for the role. For example, you could say, “For a Product Manager with comparable work experience and expertise in digital product development, the U.S. average salary is $105,000. I believe my proven leadership skills and Product Management Certification bring additional value. Therefore, I’m looking for a salary of $115,000-$120,000.”

Prepare for Tough Questions

During a negotiation conversation, particularly one that takes place in person or live virtually, you may receive some tough questions from the employer to evaluate your seriousness and interest in the role. Here are some questions you might receive and suggestions on how you can answer them: 

  • “How much do you make in your current role?” This question is illegal in some U.S. states and cities and is often considered unethical. Using current salary to inform a salary offer can serially underpay candidates. 
    • How to answer: Be polite, but stay firm. You can say, “It’s too early in the hiring process to discuss salary in detail. I’d like to know more about the role and responsibilities. If we move forward, I’d be open to discussing salary requirements.” Or “I want to respect my current employer and keep this information private. I’m open to discussing compensation requirements if we move further in the interview process.” Then, tactfully change the subject. “In the meantime, I’d love to know more about ____…”
  • “Do you have any other offers on the table?” Congratulations – this employer wants to know if you’re a hot commodity! 
    • How to answer: Always be honest, but don’t give away too much information. You could say, “I have not received an offer, but I am in the final stages of interviewing with another company and have been told to expect a decision by the end of the week.” If you’ve received another offer, use that as leverage by showing how excited you are about the job you’re negotiating. You could say, “I have received an offer from another company, but I’m excited about the opportunity to innovate an established product line with your team. I want to give them a decision by the end of business Tuesday. Could we discuss X, Y, or Z?” Be respectful to the competitor and don’t disclose sensitive information, like your salary offer or benefits packages.
  • “If we offer X salary, will you accept?” This question implies some urgency to the negotiation process. 
    • How to answer: Don’t let this pressure you into saying yes. If you need time to consider the offer (we recommend taking 24-48 hours to evaluate the final offer), communicate that you need time to review it. You could say, “I’m very excited about this role, but there are several personal and professional factors that I need to consider before giving a final answer.” 

Practice with a Trusted Friend

Negotiating salary can be intimidating. Whether you intend to negotiate person-to-person or via email, it’s helpful to rehearse your talking points with a trusted friend. If you negotiate via email, ask them to review your written points to check for clarity and tone.

Tip 7: Pick an Appropriate Time

If you’re regularly communicating with a recruiter or hiring manager, this topic might come up naturally during the late stages of the interview process. Be prepared to share your talking points. If they catch you off guard, share that you are flattered by the offer and would like more time to evaluate. Although it is common to negotiate via email, some employers may prefer to have a conversation on the phone or face-to-face. 

Here’s an example of what you can say: 

“I’m very excited to be considered for this opportunity. I’d like to take a few days to consider your offer. Would Wednesday afternoon be a good time to revisit this conversation?”

Then, take steps to schedule an extended conversation. Although you may be eager to continue the discussion, be mindful of your prospective employer’s time (for example, don’t ask to chat after standard business hours). 

Tip 8: Get Your Offer In Writing

When you land the role, ensure that you receive the final terms in writing and that the official offer reflects those terms. Documentation can help you if the employer fails to deliver on your agreed-upon salary. You can ask that they email you a summary, or you can send a recap email yourself outlining what you discussed and ask that they respond to correct inaccuracies or omitted information.

Tip 9: Express Gratitude

Regardless of when salary negotiation happens in the interview process, it’s important to express gratitude. Interviewing takes time and resources for both parties, so thank them for their time and interest in you. You can also share why you’re excited about the opportunity to fill the role or highlight why you like the company.

Tip 10: Negotiate Beyond Salary

Money isn’t everything. When interviewing for any role, consider the total compensation package and evaluate whether it fits your needs. You may take a lower base salary for other benefits or earning opportunities. Here are some benefits you can review and even negotiate:

  • Health insurance
  • Retirement / 401K match
  • Wellness funds
  • Vacation days
  • Sabbatical
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Home office stipend
  • Bonuses 
  • Child care
  • Relocation expenses
  • Job title
  • Start date
  • Profit sharing 
  • Professional development funds

Tip 11: Ask Questions

Stay calm and collected if you negotiate the salary offer and the person you’re negotiating with seems surprised or reacts negatively. Remember, this isn’t personal. Don’t lower your expectations immediately. Instead, respond with open-ended questions:

  • “What budget is the current salary based on?”
  • “Can I provide other information that would help you make a decision?”
  • “Can you share the reasoning behind the salary that you are currently offering?”

Tip 12: Be Prepared to Walk Away

An employer may not be able to meet your requested salary. If so, they may remain hard on their original offer or increase it slightly. If the final offer is lower than your goal salary, you’ll need to decide whether you’re willing to make that concession. 

Again, compare the role and salary with your goals. Perhaps you’re willing to take a lower salary for a less stressful job or for a more flexible schedule. 

If not, you’ll need to decline the offer politely. Again, express gratitude and be pleasant and professional. Even if this role wasn’t a good fit, you never know when your paths will cross in the future. 

Salary Negotiation Conversation Examples

Salary negotiation requires a balance of confidence and tact. Here are sample conversations for product managers, with strategies to help you adapt your ask based on where you are in the hiring process.

In a meeting (in-person or virtual)

Here’s an example of how you might navigate a salary negotiation conversation in person, over the phone, or in a virtual meeting. 

“Thank you for sending over the job offer package for the Product Manager position. Before we dive in, I want to share again how excited I am about the opportunity to join XYZ Corp. I’m a big fan of your products, and my skills can drive productivity and profitability. 

As I shared during the interview, I have over 5 years of product management experience, including two years of digital marketing experience before I transitioned into Product. In my last role, my team exceeded the monthly quota by 15% for 2 consecutive years and landed 3 of the largest accounts in company history.

Given my background, I am seeking a salary between $85,000 and $90,000. I understand this is higher than the salary currently being offered. That being said, I’m open to alternative compensation, such as funding for continuing education or profit sharing.

Again, I am grateful for the offer and want to reiterate my excitement for this opportunity.” 

In an email

Although the medium is different, negotiating salary over email is very similar to in-person conversations. Here’s an example of conducting salary negotiation in email: 

Hi Khaled,

Thanks so much for extending an offer for the Product Manager role with Vision Corp. I’m grateful to be considered for this innovative position.

Before accepting your offer, I want to address the proposed compensation. As I shared during the interview, I have 7 years of experience in digital product management. In my last role, I increased speed-to-market by 20% while reducing technical debt. Overall, this increased our team’s efficiency and supported a 10% revenue increase for my product line. I’ve also earned a Product Management Certification from Pragmatic Institute and led a team in implementing product best practices.

For these reasons, I am seeking a salary of $100,000, which is slightly higher than your offer of $97,000.

My experience and expertise can help drive innovation and productivity at XYZ Company. I’m happy to schedule a call to discuss this further. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you,

Kayla Menendez

How to Negotiate a Raise in Your Current Job

Knowing your salary range is essential for everyone, not just for those looking for a new job. Accurate and reliable salary data is valuable when negotiating a raise. But when should you ask for more? The best time to bring up the topic of a raise with salary data is when you have a solid case, and your employer is most likely to be open to the conversation.

Salary negotiation skills are helpful for professionals at all stages of their careers. Even if you plan to stay with your current company, don’t be afraid to ask for a raise. However, negotiation principles remain the same: understand your goal, set a target salary, and highlight your value to the company using job market data.

It might be a good time to ask for a raise during these times: 

  • During your annual performance review.
  • On your job anniversary: This shows your employer that you’re committed to your job and the company and are interested in staying with the company long-term.
  • If the industry is doing well or if the demand for your profession is high.
  • If you have accomplished something significant, such as completing a large project.

Since you work with the people you’re negotiating with daily, it’s crucial to handle these conversations tactfully. Be mindful of your boss’s demands and workload, and lead with gratitude. Above all, don’t let the negotiation process or outcome sour your working relationship. 

How to Research Product Manager Salary

Conducting salary research is essential to effectively negotiate your salary. There are two primary ways to research the salary for your position: the market average salary for a product manager and the salary ranges for product manager job postings.

Helpful Resources

To research market averages, you can use free online resources like the sites below:

You can also explore current job postings on the following sites:

Account for Title and Experience

Salaries vary depending on various factors, including title, years of experience, and professional development, including Product Management Certifications. When researching your salary, explore title variations and select different experience ranges. Your research will help you get a clearer picture of the compensation range available for your field.

When researching salary, you should also consider other factors such as geographic location, work format (remote, hybrid, or in-office), and company pedigree. Global companies may have larger budgets than small startups and be able to offer higher salaries. Companies in major cities may also offer higher salaries to meet cost-of-living expectations. 

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding how the role and salary align against your career goals, skills, and market value is important. 
  • Use industry salary data to prepare for negotiations. Practice your talking points to have a productive conversation and prepare to answer difficult questions. 
  • Free online tools can help you find a target salary range based on your experience, skills, and other factors.
  • Whether the negotiation takes place virtually or in person, express gratitude and be professional.
  • Salary negotiation isn’t just for new hires. You can negotiate your salary with your current employer by researching and asking at an appropriate time.

 

Author

  • Pragmatic Editorial Team

    The Pragmatic Editorial Team comprises a diverse team of writers, researchers, and subject matter experts. We are trained to share Pragmatic Institute’s insights and useful information to guide product, data, and design professionals on their career development journeys. Pragmatic Institute is the global leader in Product, Data, and Design training and certification programs for working professionals. Since 1993, we’ve issued over 250,000 product management and product marketing certifications to professionals at companies around the globe. For questions or inquiries, please contact [email protected].

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