Know What They Want

When I was a director in retail television, I was the heartbeat of the show. I was the one who reacted quickly, pumping blood to each and every moving part and synchronizing their efforts toward a common outcome. Behind a switcher with about 2,500 buttons and touchscreen menus, I called out commands to my crew via headset, coached the talent through the show with their in-ear monitors and partnered with the producer to meet sales goals. Year after year I watched the sales screens, learning the patterns of caller response…learning what they reacted to and what should be avoided until it became intuitive. I knew what they needed to see before they could even realize they wanted it. This is a big part of why I was a prime-time director, tasked with some of the network’s most demanding and high stakes shows. I paid attention not just to the show, but to the customer. I learned her mind.
First-time products are usually not an immediate sell-out. They usually are scheduled to air 2-3 times before the initial trial inventory is gone. The first product I ever sold as talent was completely gone in 8 minutes. The second show it was scheduled for had to be cancelled. There was no inventory left to sell. I don’t point any of this out to bow my own horn. There are plenty of talented directors and presenters that humble me with their abilities. I tell you this to prove how essential it is that you get inside your customer’s mind. You must know exactly why they think they way they do and know how to give them what they want before they even know to ask.
When I started out as a DJ in my first year of college, I was terrible. I couldn’t get people to dance no matter how hard I tried. Everything felt discombobulated and I was clueless as to why. When I did my first night in a big night club, I actually had people throwing drink cups and bottle caps into the DJ booth and yelling “You Suck” from the dance floor! A year later, I had taken that club from 400 people to 2,500 every Thursday night. The dance floor was slammed, the bar was packed, the club was making ridiculous money and the manager thought I walked on water. How did this happen? I learned to read my crowd and give them what they wanted before they could even ask.
When you are pitching anything, a product, a business, yourself…it doesn’t matter…you must have intimate knowledge of your customer’s mind or you are lost. If you have not yet taken the time to dig deep and do the hard work of truly knowing your perfect customer’s mind, you are cheating yourself out of potential greatness! It is time. Dedicate an entire day…an entire week if necessary to learning who they are. Call past customers or do an email blast. Read online reviews of your competition. Find out what makes the difference. Who are your customers exactly? What are their lifestyles like? What problems do they have? Why should they choose you over all the other options? Every big corporation has a survey these days designed to answer these very questions. Take a cue from their methods. Do the same. Cultivating this type of information is critical! It is the difference between sales mediocrity and real success! You might think you are giving people what they want, but you are speaking to the wrong audience!

by Cory Bergeron
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