Mike Hourigan Negotiation Skills Speaker
“How Many Bananas per Bunch?”
One of my great joys as a negotiation skills speaker is to meet with meeting attendees both before and after my keynote addresses and seminars. Sometimes the meetings are casual and informal, sometimes as part of a question and answer session. I really like these interactions because I had real-life experience myself starting with manufacturing and sales and working my way into upper management. My negotiation skills were honed very early on in my career and eventually applied to organizations such as Cargill and Olympus.
I had just delivered a talk on the topic of negotiation for a major processor association in the food industry in Atlanta, when an attendee asked me the following in the Q&A session:
“Mike, what was the very first time you realized you were interested in motivating people to improve their negotiation skills?”
I think she was expecting me to talk memorable keynotes I delivered for major financial services or insurance organizations. I thought for a bit and then I burst out laughing. Instead, I said: “Bananas!” She must have thought I was giddy from the chocolate chip cookies they served during the break.
The Fruit Stand
Truly, I explained, the very first time I became interested in negotiation skills was when I was not much more than seven or eight.
“Do you have a few minutes for me to give you a real-life negotiation skills lesson?”
Everyone agreed. The name of the store was Pete’s Fancy Fruits and Vegetables and it was not that far away from our home on Long Island. The only mystery to my young mind was what made a zucchini or onion “fancy,” but that’s a topic for a future post on motivational sales techniques.
Anyway, Pete must have gotten a great deal from his banana supplier. At the front of the store was a display bin piled high with bananas. There was a hand-written sign that said: “Bananas, 39 cents a bunch.” I explained it was a long time ago!
It was an impressive display but my young mind quickly picked up on something. Some bunches had four bananas, some had five and there were even a few with six and seven.
No sooner was I about to tug at my mom’s sleeve to point out the obvious, when a neighbor asked “Mr. Pete” the question I wanted to ask.
“If they’re all 39 cents, why do some bunches have more bananas than others?”
Pete replied, “They all weigh the same.”
I couldn’t believe that either.
Another neighbor chimed in that she wanted the biggest bunch not the smallest, and to completely confuse the matter, a man walked in who wanted just one banana for his lunch. He asked Pete how much money it was for one. Pete said it was 19 cents, because he didn’t want to break up the bunches!
This lesson in bananas was my first lesson in negotiation skills. Without going into the back and forth of it all, Pete’s fancy banana bunches were ultimately sold by weight, though Pete didn’t want to budge on the single banana price. In fact, even the man who wanted only one banana, wound up buying a bunch of three for 30 cents.
Mike Hourigan: Improving Your Negotiation Skills
What impressed me about the crowd around the banana stand and what has carried me forward to this day is that anyone can learn the art of negotiation. What often prevents us from negotiation is fear. Who wants to lose friends or valued customers over fancy bananas or a multi-million-dollar piece of medical equipment?
We want to negotiate in a way that makes both parties feel as though the transaction was fair. To complicate the matter, the days of the slick, high pressure salesperson are gone. No one wants to be sold to, they want to feel as though the transaction was open, respectful and fair.
My techniques in negotiation skills turns audiences from being terrified about discussing pricing with a hard to please prospect to brokering huge deals. I’ll change your mindset from thinking small bananas to a bakery full of banana cream pies.
Negotiation Skills Training
Contact Negotiation Skills Speaker Mike Hourigan
For more information on Mike Hourigan’s Negotiation Tactics,
Strategies and Skills Training, call him today at: (704) 875-3030 or fill out the contact form.