Closing The Gap

3 tips for negotiating your salary like an auctioneer

Communications coach and auctioneer Dia Bondi.
Photo credit: Dia Bondi

For the past 20 years, Dia Bondi has served as a communications coach to entrepreneurs, CEOs and executives at high-profile companies like Quartz, Twitter and Pandora.

In 2016 she completed a bucket list goal of hers by enrolling in auctioneering school in St. Louis, Missouri. There are many things, Bondi tells CNBC Make It, that you "learn as an auctioneer that apply directly to how you negotiate and make an ask on behalf of your career."

Earlier this year she launched the platform Ask Like an Auctioneer, where she coaches women on how to boldly negotiate at work. Her goal, she says, is to provide women with the confidence needed to ask for the things that are outside of their comfort zone.

Below, Bondi shares three ways that she says thinking like an auctioneer can help any woman to ask for what they want at work.

Communications coach and auctioneer Dia Bondi.
Photo credit: Dia Bondi

1. Fall in love with your goals

Bondi says the first thing any woman should do before making a bold ask is to fall in love with the amount or thing they're asking for. "I have observed over and over again in my coaching sessions that if we fall deeply in love with our goals then it is easier to make a courageous ask on behalf of them," she says.

Far too often, she says, women will come to her for advice on how to negotiate their pay and they will ask her, "What should I ask for?" or, "What do you think I can get?" In those instances, Bondi says she tells them to come up with their own goal while keeping in mind the reason they're making the ask.

"Now you're being more like an auctioneer, where you're an agent for your purpose and an agent for your goals," she says. "You're no longer coming from a position where you're sort of just putting yourself out there. Now you're making a courageous ask and championing your goals."

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2. Aim for a "no"

You want to make sure that the number you've set your sights on isn't one that will get you a guaranteed "yes." If it does, then she says you've likely left money on the negotiating table.

"In auctioneering, I'm going to make an minimum opening bid and then I'm going to ask for more until somebody in that room says, 'Nope, not that dollar amount,'" she says. "But I had to touch the 'no' in order to know that I have maximized the sales price of that item."

Bondi says she wants women to get comfortable with aiming for a "no" when they're negotiating.

"If you're asking for $150,000, for example, you should ask yourself if that number has the potential to get you a 'no,'" she says. "Most of the time the answer is 'probably not.' And if that's the case then you should ask for $175,000 or $180,000 or $185,000, because that is where you risks getting a 'no,' and that is what I want women to aim for. From there you can negotiate down, but at least you'll know that you've maximized your potential."

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3. Negotiate in small increments

After reaching a "no," Bondi says you then want to negotiate your salary down in increments, similar to how auctioneers negotiate down once they've reached their max.

"If I'm selling an item at an auction, then I can make the decision on if I'm going to have $500 increments, $1,000 increments or $2,000 increments based on what's happening," she says. "When I talk to women about their ask plan, one of the questions that comes up is always about increments, because what I don't want women to say is 'OK, I think I can get a 'yes' to $150,000 a year so I'm going to ask for $185,000.' And then when they get a 'no' to $185,000 they jump down and say, 'OK fine, what about $150,000.'"

Instead of drastically decreasing your ask, Bondi suggests you negotiate down in small increments where you ask for $5,000 to $10,000 less until you get a "yes."

"Have lots of increments to play with between your maximum courageous ask and your minimum ask, which in auctioneering we call your 'reserve,'" she says.

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