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  • Mark Lipton

Still Dealing? You Devil!

Updated: Jan 28, 2019

When I write a column, I try to make them about 750 words, so that they read in about 4 minutes. From the number of emails and texts I got on a piece I recently posted about negotiations (it’s still up if you missed it or want to read it again), I’d say that that topic is on the collective minds of independent paint retailers. Given that response, I wanted to add a bit more content on the issue. So here is some of what landed on the cutting room floor from my last post. I hope you enjoy it.


I served on a board of education for six years and we were constantly negotiating something. In my six years we negotiated and signed three quarters of a billion dollars worth of contracts! With that much money on the line of course we had experts to advise us. And ours were the most highly regarded in the field! It was like signing yourself up for a tennis lesson and finding out your teacher is Roger Federer!


Here were my two biggest “take-aways” from that experience:


· Never negotiate against yourself

· The most valuable asset you have in any negotiation is your credibility.


A customer walks into the store and says he needs a price for 50 gallons of the premium interior eggshell you sell from your largest vendor. You take a quick look at your costs and tell him “$40 per gallon!” “Hmmm, can’t you do any better?” he asks.


NO, you CAN’T! At least not now! If you come down now you are the loser and you’re sitting on both sides of the table! It’s a negotiation: you offer, they counter! It lets you know how far apart you are, which may even change your strategy. So it’s important that they go next! It also stops you from leaving money on the table. Maybe you change your offer by coming down $3. How do you know that $2 would not have gotten the job done? Only change your position as a counter to their offer, otherwise you are negotiating against yourself.


Would you negotiate any deal with someone you didn’t think could and would honor ALL aspects of it once it was agreed to? Well, neither would anybody else! Never say anything unless it’s accurate and never promise anything you don’t plan to deliver on! If the other side doesn’t feel like you’re dependable, you’re wasting your time even trying to make a deal.



Being a writer doesn’t mean I know anything about blogging! This has been a real learning experience for me and I’m trying to get it just right; but I don’t know what “just right” means. I’d love to hear from anyone who wants to share his or her point of view on the “how often” question. I had been thinking one post a week seems about right but decided to add this follow-up piece when I got such a large response to the original post. I’m glad that topic struck so many of you as relevant. I’d love to know if you think that’s too much in your inbox. You can email me or just leave a comment below. M-


©2019 by Mark Lipton

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