Talking about compensation with your boss can be a hard subject to broach. Because of this, many don’t know how to properly negotiate when it comes to talking about money, especially when the prospect of a raise is on the table. As yearly reviews come and go, many employees will consider entering into a conversation with their bosses about whether or not they deserve a raise, but most will not receive the compensation that they think they deserve.

The first step to working toward a raise is being realistic about your abilities and your contributions to the company. Look back at your recent efforts and be honest with yourself about what you deserve based on that. If you want a solid raise, you’ll need a good case for it. On average, slightly under 3% of company revenue goes toward raises, but the top percentage of employees are allocated more funds for raises than anyone else.

Nobody knows you better than you, so take the time to compile a list of your accomplishments. Have you gone above and beyond to help out a coworker, or stayed late to assist with a problem? If you’ve taken on recent responsibilities, be sure to highlight those as well. Use any quantitative data that you can find; solid figures of how a company has benefitted with your work are indisputable evidence of your prowess. Don’t wait until the opportunity for a raise comes up; start as soon as possible.

Think of this compilation as a portfolio, and include any documents that you think might be beneficial. Save emails from people that have praised your performance, and include copies of any certificates or degrees that you may have earned in that time. If you have projects that you can include, integrate them in as well. The more evidence you have on your side, the better.

Another way to prepare for a discussion about a raise is finding evidence of what people in your position with your tenure make. If you know exactly what you are theoretically worth, it gives you a starting point for negotiations. However, you should also account for the environment in which you live; if you’re from an area with a lower cost of living, the percentage that your income increases might be lower than in a larger city. Company size is also a determining factor in how much you can expect to make.

Once you’ve gathered the proper rationale for a raise, it then comes time to speak with your boss. The best, and most expected, time to ask is during a year review. If you ask outside of this period, acknowledge that this is an unusual case and that you’re asking for a specific reason tied to your recent actions.

When negotiating, be clear and factual. Tell your boss that you’re looking for a raise in compensation, and follow it up by hitting a couple of the broader points that you’ve come up with before delving into detail. Never make the subject of a raise personal; by stating that you need more capital for a wedding, baby, or something similar, you lose some of the credibility that you’ve built up. Instead, focus on what you’ve done for the company and why that warrants a change.

If your boss turns down your request for a raise, turn it into an opportunity. Be honest with them and ask about what you’d need to do to secure the raise that you’re looking for. It can also make a good impression if you ask about the possibility of taking on more responsibilities in the future. Regardless, keep your responses measured and don’t burn any bridges. In the event of repeated rejection despite outstanding job performance, it may be time to consider other employment options.

No matter what you do, it’s still a tough subject to approach and negotiate. But, as with anything else in business, good preparation and presentation of facts is the best way to sway a potentially difficult audience to your cause.