Marketing Executive Search: Negotiate a Win-Win Salary
Marketing executive search balance

One sensitive subject that frequently crops up in high-level marketing executive searches is salary. It’s a touchy subject that jeopardizes a lot of CMO tenures before they even begin.

When negotiating contract terms for an executive position, it’s always best when the candidate and the company enter an agreement happy and with healthy expectations. But a lot of factors—many of them involving money—can disrupt the deal. When a relationship like this begins poorly, it’s often doomed to fail.

Finding a Balance

To get top performing talent, you have to be willing to pay for it. But just like any other investment, there are plenty of reasons you wouldn’t want to overpay.

  • If you agree to a higher salary than you intended, you may end up with unrealistic expectations from your new marketing exec.
  • It can put you in a tough position when your CMO comes expecting a raise.
  • A great marketing executive will pay for themselves many times over, but keeping internal equity with other executives is still important.

On the other hand, you don’t want your executive to feel like they’re getting nickel-and-dimed and feel undervalued.

  • If they end up accepting the job but feel they’re underpaid they may underperform and be less motivated.
  • You’re at a higher risk of losing your CMO to a competitor offering a higher rate.
  • If you’re unable to reach an agreeable deal they’ll back out of negotiations. Is the extra cost of your first choice better than having to turn to the second best candidate?

Lose-Lose Marketing Executive Search Negotiations

There is no such thing as a win-lose situation in an executive salary negotiation. It’s not like getting a really good deal on a priceless antique at a thrift store or buying an overpriced counterfeit watch from a street vendor. In transactions like that there’s a clear winner and loser.

Both parties in a marketing executive search are buying in to a partnership where they each have a lot to gain or lose. They will both succeed and grow or fail and stagnate together.

What’s bad for an executive is bad for the company—and vice versa. But when you have the right marketing executive who is happy and properly motivated, you’re in a great position to improve your marketing ROI and increase profits. And when you’re excited about your new executive and have new realistic expectations of what you’ll be getting for your investment, no surprises occur and you can start off on the right foot.

Reaching an Agreement

Compare the Competition

One of the most obvious ways to gauge a salary starting point is to compare it to what others in similar positions are getting. Researching salaries of competitors and corresponding conditions in comparable industries gives an idea of what others are getting paid compared to how much success they’re having. Companies and candidates looking to deviate significantly from an average salary will need a very compelling argument for it.

Check Their Accomplishments

Demonstrable past value might be enough to sway the discussion in the candidate’s favor. An experienced CMO should have ways to give evidence of their value beyond “increasing brand awareness” or “improving consumer perception.” That proof will vary depending on experience, whether it’s improving conversion rates, exceeding digital benchmarks, decreasing media costs or any of hundreds of other measurable performance indicators. If they can prove their methods work, you may be less anxious about giving ground on compensation.

Be Flexible and Creative

When your salary window is tight, flexibility on other benefits can make an impact. Your candidate could be willing to compromise on salary if other key concessions are offered to compensate. To some people, the additional value of a few extra days off, better stock options or even a prime parking spot can make up for the difference in salary you’re unable to reconcile.

Enlist a Marketing Executive Search Agency

Not to toot our own horn (well, maybe just a little), but a marketing executive search firm will also mediate negotiations and help reach a mutually agreeable solution. We understand the perspective of all parties involved and have plenty of experience with matching talented candidates with great clients. Executive search firms know how to handle salary negotiation hiccups and find a candidate that fits your needs and price range. We also have a strong familiarity with the marketplace and know what competitive compensation is.

Be Sympathetic in Your Marketing Executive Search

It’s important to realize that while a marketing executive search might be a routine “just business” process, for the candidate it’s an extremely personal experience. A relatively straightforward discussion for you is someone’s livelihood. This is how people maintain their homes and feed their children—be understanding if they act or speak emotionally. That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to give up ground, but understanding your candidate’s perspective will make the conversation go more smoothly.

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