Negotiating Like a BOSS

Negotiation. Just saying the word makes me uncomfortable. But why? Negotiation is what you make of it, from salary, to benefits, even memberships and professional development. And there is plenty of room for most of us to grow and improve. Today, we’re chatting with Kenda Salisbury, CPSM, Pacific Northwest Business Development Manager at Degenkolb Engineers to ease concerns and learn from her negotiating tactics. You know, like a BOSS.

“You have to be willing to leave it all on the Table.”

CQ: In their book A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating, father/daughter duo Lee and Jessica Miller name “three qualities as being critical to success as a negotiator: confidence, preparation, and a willingness to walk away.” Which of those three qualities do you think is the most important to your approach to negotiation?

KS: I think they’re all important, but rank them as willingness to walk away as the most important, followed by confidence and preparation. You have to be willing to say no to an opportunity to get what you want. Be willing to leave it all on the table, and make sure the other party understands that you know you are more important than the deal.

CQ: How do you prepare for a salary negotiation for a new position?

KS: Be willing to give and take. You should make a list of priorities that are non-negotiable, as well as another list of things that would be great, but not mandatory. Knowing what you want is paramount to this situation. One of the most important pieces of advice I received was “anything that affects your life is negotiable when it comes to a job.”

CQ: What are some outside-the-box things that someone can negotiate?

KS: You can negotiate all kinds of things! When you go into it, you have to hold yourself higher than anyone else. Put yourself on a pedestal, and ask how to work around roadblocks with things such as:

  • Wardrobe
  • Drycleaning
  • Terms surrounding  out of pocket expenses (if a corporate credit card is not provided)
  • Transportation
  • Gym Membership
  • Vacation
  • Flexible Schedule
  • Daycare Allowance
  • Conference Attendance
  • Professional Development/Continuing Education

And remember that if a company is difficult to work with in negotiating these small things, they are probably going to be very difficult to work with in the long run.

CQ: It is rare that someone is just handed the initial salary they request. How high above your required number should you go in with?

KS: Go in with a range. Check out the SMPS Salary Survey, or something similar from your local SMPS chapter. And when referencing guides, be sure to use your job description, not title. Titles differ from firm to firm, and are not always reflective of the work you’re actually doing. And remember: the first person to name a number always loses, so always let the employer suggest a number first. When asked this question in the beginning stages, I like to respond with “I’d like to learn more about the job and the people I’m going to be working with before I suggest a number.”

CQ: Tell us about “Kenda’s Rules for Negotiating”


  • Know the company you’ll be working for, and do your research before negotiations
  • Know the person you’ll be working for, and the people you’ll be working with.
  • Know your personal worth, and what is non-negotiable
  • Always be willing to walk away

CQ: What are the differences in rules between negotiating when starting a new position vs. during a performance review?

KS: It’s always better to negotiate at the beginning. You don’t know enough about the person you’re dealing with to know their boundaries, so you can keep pushing. During a performance review – go in with a specific number, and a solid list of specific reasons you deserve an increase based on your proven performance.

CQ: How do you know when you’ve pushed far enough, and that it’s time to stop?

KS: They’ll tell you when enough is enough, and body language can be very telling. You don’t want to start off the relationship with a bad taste in your mouth, so be willing to give and take.


Want to hear more from Kenda? Listen to the full podcast for the complete scoop on Kenda’s advice for negotiating.

Music by SONGO 21 – Studio sessions 2003 by SONGO 21 is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

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About Kenda

Kenda Salisbury, CPSM, is an innovator, creator, connector, motivator, champion bologna wrangler… and sarcasm is her favorite tool. Over 17 years in the A/E/C industry Kenda has embodied every job title from Marketing Assistant to Director. Currently, she is the Pacific Northwest Business Development Manager for Degenkolb Engineers, a structural engineering firm with five offices along the West Coast. Kenda is a Past President of SMPS Seattle and a member of the inaugural class of SMPS University. She obtained her Certified Professional Services Marketer designation in 2004. In her free time, Kenda likes to argue, read, watch criminal procedure television, and cuddle her cocker spaniel, Murphy.

Have questions or want to chat more with Kenda? Post your comments below or connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Double Dip with Kenda

Join us Thursday on the podcast when we’re back with Kenda, learning more about her career and the individuals and experiences that have led her to where she is today.

Music by SONGO 21 – Studio sessions 2003 by SONGO 21 is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.


We’ll be taking a break from guest interviews during the month of April, but will continue on with limited podcasts, blog posts, and most importantly a focus on audience interaction. Stay tuned for a BIG announcement next Monday!