Most of the time, employees applying to jobs make sure they spend a lot of time being highly presentable. Just because you're growing and hiring an employee for your reasons, doesn't mean that these new potential hires aren't preparing in their own right. Everyone is hiring sales jobs, ourselves included. Still, skilled workers want to get paid higher and can take advantage of a business owner. Some are just good at negotiation because they know they are the best in their field. So when hiring managers reject people solely on their salary requirements, they give up talent – so their compeitors hire them. While employers like yourself usually want to get pay lower, you can sure you get the best skills at a salary both parties are comfortable with by understanding the most common salary snags and their counters. Knowin these salary negotiation tactics for business owners, lets you to get the best return for your investment in another employee. Lets get to it.

By the way, my name is Jake Goss-Kuehn. I'm the Director of Business Development at the Web Strategy Viking marketing firm. Acting as a recruiter and hiring manager for my company and personal projects, I've hired way over 200 overseas workers on over 200 projects over the last 4 years. I've paid for small one-off projects and for expert level consultants that deserve the big bucks. (Our clients get the skills from us having retained the best of the talent per our standards). But still – I'm young enough to understand why skilled 20 and 30-somethings must have that salary negotiation judo skillset.

Our best hire that came out of this was hired as a digital strategist copywriting intern, and now charges $60/hour. For some business owners, that might sound insane, but this digital strategist copywriter produced immense value for our clients.

How to Hire an Employee in 2019 (8 Salary Negotation Tactics for Business Owners) 2
Our Marketing Interns Earn that $70,000 Salary

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How to get job applicants in 2019

Have a post asking for how someone would solve this problem. Someone will answer and you can reach out to them if they are driven. Its usually public information that many others will try and ask. If you make it local, like asking "Who are the best digital marketing firms in St Paul and why?" Our company will find you if we're hunting on there and will answer and provide trustworthy insight. You'll decide to hire based on how much value they give to you. They also get seen as an expert, and win that way too.

You can go to a website like, and hire a solution or a virtual assistant for $5 for a few hours.

Going to lets you get overseas talent, with a higher pool of quality. The freelancer usually pays the fees involved. is seen as a lower-quality pool of projects.

You can post on Indeed or on Ziprecruiter if you need a local, but you can get the same quality talent if you hire overseas.

Need higher quality remote workers? will be great for remote digital strategist jobs and tech work.

The easiest way to filter applicants

If you want to write a standard job description, with the position's goals and expectations. Great. I do that too. I usually write out the exact process, but I add a secret easter egg. I ask the applicant to put in "hamburger" (or whatever food I'm craving at the moment) in their response back. I've found that their lack of attention of detail or their inability to understand lets me filter out the 90% of job applicants that are clearly and mindlessly clicking "apply" to jobs.

If they care, you should clearly care. You filtered down to the top 10.

How many job applicants should you have until you start interviewing them?

You should have 3 to 5 job applications after 90% have been filtered down. These are the top layer of foam to your hiring process. Give these guys at least a 5 minutes of your time. It would be half an hour.

How to do the first preliminary hiring interview call as a business owner?

For employees, they are conditioned to study and be sharp as a tack. You on the other hand, need to understand they just want to prove themselves to you. If they are asking to learn more about YOU and they clearly can't find that information out for themselves, then your brand and website fails completely.

Either way, let them do 70% of the talking. Give them questions. You can use our 77 sales and prospecting guide to understand how hiring and recruiting is a sales process. You are buying and persuading them to spend their time as a resource with your company

Ask them yes or no questions. Learn about them. You do not want to brag and beat your own chest. I've found that just looks like desperation – but if you find yourself talking about yourself – pause, and reverse it. Say, "hold on, I really like my company, but let me ask what kind of values you want in your hiring manager." They go crazy for that and share what they need which obviously can be positioned into their role. Build rapport. If you are a good sales person, you will be a good recruiter for your company.

You can tell them that you can schedule a call with them after you have rounds with the real number of other applicants. But you liked them, and set an appt. They will if they trust and built rapport with you.

The one question to conduct a cost-effective job interview.

I have a 20 minute conversation, digital strategy interns learn more and share the relevant parts. I discuss our company's processes, shortcomings, and why we are hiring the position. I take my notes from the answered I gathered and ask one question that sums up weather or not they have a skill or eye for the future.

I ask them for their 30-60-90 day plan. This is a 3 month plan, and digital strategist interns almost always ask what those are. Its a sales and marketing concept that can be built into the agile and review method of software development. It goes by many names.

What will they do in the first 30 days, first 60 days, and first 90 days. For a digital sales intern, they should say they will start prospecting and building a book of prospects, and in the second month they'll qualify and get proposals sent out, and by the third month something like filling in any holes in their prospecting and confirming and making sure people get proposals otherwise they'll miss out or something.

We've found that people that have no clue how to solve your problems, will require much more work. We publish our best content from our digital strategists in Minneapolis because we do not try and micromanage and they simply know what to do. They just need passwords, and logins and some to reuse our blog posts to get started.

Why a trial period lets you hire quickly, and determine a hiring decision quickly.

Having hired over 200 people for projects, I almost always say yes to working with someone as long as they are OK with a 2-week trial period. This trial period is usually the best period and I set that as a standard with clear numbers of results. Maybe its something like, get 25X blog posts written, or send 200 emails each week, or get 50 email responses this month. That's a clear goal. They can record that and you can verify.

Employees usually say OK if it is a paid position where they know they will be reviewed and given the ability to negotiate a salary. They understand its a trial and test run for themselves too. They'll have social buy in, and as a negotiation tactic you'll be able to make sure they have the same values that they're willing to "buy in" if they like it.

I usually hire 2 for the same position, and let them know. If they both leave or fail, then its clearly the company's fault. Adjust and improve. If one left or underperforms, then its the person as the other will be performing well. If they both perform well, then you have two excellent hires that will always improve by bouncing ideas between each other. They have a friend in the company. You have a unit. If one leaves, you can hire another that can be trained as an assistant. Let them make their own process over time…

But for the ones that last the two weeks, you can seriously give them a negotiation and a salary if you can see the long term impact to your business.

Our digital strategist consultant interns beat out their competition

Our digital strategist consultant interns stick with us because they've found colleagues of people that share the same values. They have amazing portfolios, and are worthy on $70,000 dollar salaries at any larger marketing agency that'll take them. They'll pay for their salary every single month. But the thing is, starting off – like any marketing intern – need to pay their dues and learn and struggle. Any marketing professional does this. You don't learn SEO or digital marketing in schools. You learn theory and reasons why market share is important, but not how to SEO optimize a blog post so it will be read by thousands of potential customers to actually get that market share.

Our Salary negotiation tactics for negotiating based on numbers

You're interviewing, and now you have that trial-employee or you need to hire a long term fit now. You MUST have them, but you hit a negotation snag. They don't want to tell you how much they need.

They're conditioned not to give away here is usually a snag, or a bit of tension. When in talks, keep in mind that the negotiation starts after the first number gets said. THe number will will usually go in the other direction of whoever says it. Its bargaining at its finest. You say $70,000, and they say they need more. They say $70,000 and you say thats too steep.

Seasoned digital strategists understand this, we're in sales and marketing. But you can use these salary negotiation counters as a business owner.

The most common salary negotiation counters you'll hear when you start negotiating salary without having a trial.

You immediately will start talking price, instead of understanding their REAL value when you give them time to grow and understand. IF you hire them for a test run, they'll at least pay their short term obligations. If they already have a job, then you'll run into these most common negotiation price-sensitive issues.

You ask for a number:

They say: I’m more concerned at the moment with talking to you about discovering whether we’re a mutual fit.  If we’re a great fit, then I can be flexible on the numbers with you and you can be flexible on the numbers with me.  If we’re not a great fit, then the numbers are ultimately irrelevant, because your company only hires A players and I only work at roles I would be an A player at."

They fill out a form and fail to give you a number.

(They are not doing this to be disrespectful, but this obvious and built in step to hamper them)

What they should say: “Give me git access and I’ll fix this problem you have in a jiffy! No, seriously, speaking, I’m more concerned at the moment with discovering whether we’re a mutual fit…  Oh, it’s physically impossible for us to move without a number?  Put in $1 then to get the ball rolling, and we’ll circle back to this later.”

I look forward to receiving your offer by, oh, would tomorrow be enough time for you to run the numbers?”

(They're bright, aren't they?)

You say something like you're Not Sure If They're the right Fit for the Position

They say: “It’s so important to me that this is a good mutual fit for us.  Let’s talk about why I’m a great fit for this position: I know you’re concerned about $FILL_IN_THE_BLANK.  In addition to my previous successes doing it, I have some great ideas for what I’d do about that if I was working at your company.  Would you like to drill into those or is there another job area you’re more concerned about to start with?”

You say something like: Nice Dodge there, but I need a number

They say: “Well, you know, I would hate to have to walk away from the negotiation over this.  Working with your company looked it would have been such a wonderful opportunity.  I hear the hiring market is super-tight right now, would you like me to introduce you to other candidates?  Maybe we can shave a couple of months off of you filling this position.”

“Well, you know, salary is only one component of the total compensation package.  In terms of total compensation, we’re probably looking at something like $FILL_IN_NUMBER_HERE.

You try and end the interview without a number or they prove their worth and beat you in salary judo:

You want to hear something like this:

I appreciate that this is a little more money than you might have been thinking about, but this is an opportunity to get this position filled without delaying your business by another six months.  What is the value of that six months of execution to you?

“I’m enthusiastic about the opportunity with working with you, assuming we can come to mutually satisfactory terms.

Send them a number anyway, and you'll feel like you'll be taken advantage of.

I appreciate that.  $84,000, huh.  Well, it isn’t quite what I had in mind, but the right package offer could make that attractive.  How much vacation comes with the package?”

If you're negotating, and like them hire them. If you gave them a test run, and you clearly enjoy working with them. Hire them. If its not a fit, and you wouldn't give them a 10 out of 10 review, don't hire them.

Be slow to hire long term, and fast to fire if its not a good fit.

Your last step

Share this post with your network, blog, or hiring manager. You can reach out to us if you're looking to hire a digital strategist consultant of your own that have been qualified per these digital marketing hiring standards – but I rather you share this and make sure people learn how they can save the resources and energy when it comes to hiring.

Just share the URL, best of luck!