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Revisiting the CMO Compensation Checklist for Better Negotiations

The CMO Club
August 21, 2017

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It’s the old adage that if you don’t ask for something, you won’t get it – a sentiment that surely rings true when it comes to the CMO compensation package.

In a previous article, Karen Sage, CMO of MercuryGate International, shared her experiences meeting other top marketers and hearing about their differing experiences when it comes to negotiating their own CMO compensation packages. An oft-overlooked piece of career advice for executives, knowing the ins and outs of what is available to you during negotiation can help prevent you from leaving well-earned money on the table.

With many CMOs changing roles every few years, we wanted to revisit Sage’s advice and her checklist of things that could possibly be included in your executive compensation package.

Although it may feel like an uncomfortable conversation at times, know that most CMOs (whether at the company you are looking at or elsewhere) have had this discussion before you. And, even though they may not have not gotten everything they wanted every time, they got one step closer to knowing where they stand and where they set the bar.

So, How Do You Negotiate as a CMO?

You already know the value of your expertise. Next comes the challenging part of the negotiation process: How can you get it?

Start by knowing that members of the board and C-Suite expect you to negotiate. And, by not doing so, you may be leaving valuable benefits (or money) behind. The process of negotiation is supposed to be a collaborative conversation with the manager, so listen attentively about their existing proposal, consider their company culture and the initiatives you will be responsible for and come with a well-prepared counter-negotiation. Preparation and prioritization of your most important items are the keys for success.

And finally, remember that this isn’t a take it or leave it situation. The company has already decided they want you or they wouldn’t have brought you this far in the hiring process. This is simply the stage where you both come to an agreement on the terms of your employment as their CMO.

The Checklist

Before you start negotiating your compensation make sure you understand all the items below correctly and know which are deal breakers for you. By selecting the ones that best suit and satisfy your needs, you’ll be able to move forward with confidence about what you need to be happy and successful in a role – and what can be leveraged as bargaining chips or trade-offs.

√  Salary (check out public company listings to see what your peers are making)

√  Performance bonus (short-term and long-term)

√  Retention bonus

√  Starting bonus

√  Equity compensation (phantom stock, private equity)

√  Stock options and stock grants (inquire about them both and vesting schedules are negotiable)

√  Supplemental executive retirement plans

√  Supplemental 401(k) (these are special executive suite only provisions)

√  Golden parachutes (negotiable change in control provisions are negotiable)

√  Severance package (walk away pay guaranteed in all scenarios)

√  Benefits (special executive healthcare, daycare, long-term leave add-ons, life insurance)

√  Secret executive luxury perks (travel clubs, airport services, limos services, car allowance, travel and entertainment budgets)

√  Tax deferral or reporting allowances (i.e., gross ups for relocation expenses)

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