sales advice

What to do if You’re Offered a Promotion

A wise man once said to me, “Sooner or later you’re going to get offered a promotion. Whatever you do, don’t take it.”

At the time, I was a salesman for a pesticide manufacturer. The senior sales guys told me how much they made and it was mind-boggling.

“Yeah, when you get promoted you get a higher salary, but for what?” He continued on, “with this job when you want a raise, you just work harder and smarter and sooner or later bigger commissions show up in your bank account.”

“But don’t you want to climb the ladder? Become CEO?” I asked.

I was a young 25 year old at the time and didn’t realize he was giving me both prescient and shitty advice at the same time.

Being a salesman is, if you’re smart, the best job ever. And the best sales jobs are those that have a small or even NO salary. Everything comes from commissions.

It’s the best because you make your own life. The harder you work, the more you make. And if there’s no shortage of product, that is you’re selling software or cars or chemicals, you can make a killing. Mid 6 figures and above.

The reason you don’t want a high salary is because it’s easier to have a flexible schedule when the company only pays you if you produce. They don’t care if you start work late on a Tuesday when you’re making them boatloads of cash. But if they’re giving you a high salary, they expect you to be around at all times.

When I asked him about climbing the ladder he said, “being a CEO takes an inordinate amount of time, the stress level is through the roof, and most CEO’s only last a few years before they’re fired.”

He was right. Let me make myself clear…there are times when it’s stupid to turn down a promotion. But you really have to consider if it’s really something you want….

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How to Get a Raise (Hint: Give yourself one instead)

There are three ways to get a raise:

  1. Ask for a raise (almost never works)
  2. Get a competing offer and go to your manager (pisses your company and boss off)
  3. Give yourself a raise (best option)

I remember the first, and only, time I asked for a raise. I was a recent graduate from college and was managing the operations of a million dollar branch of a Midwest pesticide company. I was getting paid about $45,000/year, but I felt I deserved more.

It was tough to work up the courage, but having to live 45 minutes away in a tiny apartment and the realization that I was living off Ramen noodles gave me that will to ask.

I didn’t have a chance. I had absolutely nothing prepared on my market value, but I knew I wanted more money. The conversation went way better than I thought it would! We talked for a while discussed a bunch of non-work things and in the end he said he’d get work on it and get back to me! Wow! What a nice guy!

2 months later, I never heard a thing and the only feedback I got was, “that thing you asked me about…I’m still working on it.”

It was a good experience, though, in that it prepared me for future salary negotiations. Later, the same company would promote me to a sales representative and give me an $8,000.00 raise plus commission without asking for it. And that is how you give yourself a raise. Change jobs within the same company that pays more.

I’ve also gotten a raise using a competing offer. I got an offer for a few thousand more dollars and then brought it to them and then they gave me a $12,500 raise to counter it, but I did that the wrong way. If I had wanted to stay at hat company, I should’ve said, “Mike, I got another offer, but I’m not going to take it. But what does my future look like here?”

My advice to you is this: Give yourself a raise by working hard and efficient and/or transition to a sales job where you can earn commission. Here are a couple steps you can do to work harder:

  1. Turn off the TV (HGTV consistently shows reruns from 5-7 years ago…really?)
  2. Work AT LEAST 2 hours per night on research, proposals, and education

Try these two steps and you’ll find you’ll give yourself a raise in no time.