Issue Reopening

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This is a process tactic that is very destructive to the forward progress of the negotiation. It is an attempt to renegotiate previously closed issues when the demands seem to be undesirable or labeled “unfair” in a new part of the deal that is unrelated to the closed issue. This tactic is seen when there is no linear model to closing a deal. Jumping around the deal must be thwarted at the start. There may be instances when one term is tied to another, and that may be a legitimate use of the tactic.


An example is if delivery of a good is set for a certain day, but the buyer wants it expedited. In response, the seller wants to re-open price discussions and negotiate expedited handling details. The price discussion was negotiated over a period of days and was considered closed.


To avoid this issue, have a process discussion at the outset. Divide the issues, put each item in a separate box, (e.g., “…product price is different than shipping and handling, we agreed on price so that issue is closed, let’s negotiate shipping and handling…”). You may want to reopen closed issues if the math changes. If you are responding to a Request For Proposal (RFP), a written notice in the response may be appropriate: “Our proposal is based on our standard terms. Prices may vary if the economics or risk profile of the deal change during negotiation.” If no such rigor exists, simply push back. “That is a closed issue [or out of the process or not on the schedule]. Let’s move on.”

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