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This one may be a little bit interesting for you, but this is a story which hopefully will give you the idea of listen to what someone needs, rather than what they say. All right, so here’s how the story started. I had an office in Palm Beach at least 15 years ago, something like that. And I got a phone call one day and it came actually through to one of my team and the team actually put it through to me to actually chat with them because they felt something was slightly off about the actual phone call itself.
And the gentleman came on the call and asked me about the Playboy parties. Now bearing in mind, this was back in a time when the Playboy mansion was ‘the’ party. These were tickets that were going from anywhere from like 10 to $25,000 a ticket. And you had things like the Midsummer Night’s Dream and the New Year’s Eve. And you had these parties, which were full of all the older Hollywood generation and Mr. Playboy, Hugh Hefner himself, loads of Playboy bunnies, and a lot of celebrities and wanna-be celebrities. These were actually good parties, they were hedonism at its max.
Now something happened that this gentleman was compelled that he wanted to go to one of these parties. So he came in with the call. Call got put through to me. I took the call, and I went, “Hey, how you doing, this is Steve Sims.” And he said, “Hey, how are you? I want two tickets to the Midsummer Night’s Dream party.” So very bland, very monotone. I was like, “Okay, that sounds great. Hang on a second. Let me get a pad and a pen and I’ll help you out with that.” Now I’m at my desk, so I had a pad and pen right next to me. There was no worry about trying to find this thing. But I said to him, I said, “Oh, you know while I’m just getting this, so how did you hear about us?” And he started to go into how he heard about us and I’m just making conversation and he’s pretty monotone, unattached. And I’m like, okay.
I said, “Oh, I’ve got a pad and pen now. So I’m ready when you are. What is your name?” So he gave me his name. “Okay. So you want two tickets to the Midnight’s?” “Yes, I do.” “Okay. Let me take your credit card details down.” And no matter what he was going to say, the second he started I went, “Oh, damn it. Hang on a minute. My pen’s decided to die now. Hang on a minute. Let me put this on.” So I move it off again. And I said, “So have you been to the Playboy mansion parties before?” “No, no, I’ve never done it before.” So I said, “So you’re looking to go?” “Yeah, yeah, I want to.” Said, “Who’s going?” “Oh, me and my partner’s going.” I said, “Oh great.”
Again, monotone, no excitement. Now don’t get me wrong, but if you’re just about to spend, with flights and tickets and hotel, like 30 to 40 grand for a weekend just to go to a party and this was going to be near a 50 grand, I’m kind of thinking you should be a little bit excited. So something was amiss. So I said to him, I said, “Oh, do you get over to the West coast much?” He’d already stated that he was in New York. And he said, “Well, yeah, I do,” slight deviation in tone. So I said to him, “Oh, so whereabouts do you go to?” I said, “Do you go south, San Diego? Do you like the LA region?” Again, “No,” he said, “I go north.” He said, “I get up into Napa.” His tonality had changed.
If you're just about to spend, with flights and tickets and hotel, like 30 to 40 grand for a weekend just to go to a party and this was going to be near 50 grand, I'm kind of thinking you should be a little bit excited. Click To Tweet
So I said, “Oh, Napa,” I said, “Up into the wine country.” He said, “Yeah, I love getting up there.” And now he’s excited. I said, “Well, let me ask you a question. I’m a whiskey boy” I said, “I’ve never been able to get into it. My wife loves wine, but what’s the desire? Why do people get so hot and heavy about wine? Can you explain it to me?” People love talking about what they love. Okay. So he goes off. “Oh, I get up there every now and then, the wine and the grapes. I go into Europe as well.” And he’s gone. “Europe I do this, but I really love the Napa because the soil does such and such to the grapes. You can taste its region…” Solid gone, very excited.
Now this is where I decided to poke the bear a little bit. So I went, “Oh, hang on a minute. My pen works again. Let me just take this card down. I know you started, you said it was an Amex. What was the numbers again?” And he goes down. “Oh yeah. It’s…” And he starts to give me his credit card details. So I said, “Okay, let me just get that into the system and run it through so I can get you down for this.” I said, “But please continue. About Napa. Why should I pay more attention to it?” And he’s gone again. He’s all excited. He’s all bubbly talking about it. “I go up there, my partner does this and we love this. And we do this. And while we’re up there…” Gone. I let him go. I just let him rant on about how wonderful Napa was. And then I said to him, “I’d like to ask a question.” Now my tone had changed. He’d say, “Oh, yeah, what’s that then?” I said, “I’m going to ask you this question. Are you gay?”
And that was it. I just shut up. Now, I had come out with that statement, not because I’m an offensive prick, but bottom line is that he referred to his partner a lot. Okay. Was very, very much more excited about Napa than going to a Playboy party to see a load of breasts. And I decided to just ask a question. And he actually came back and he said, “Does that matter?” So this wasn’t an answer. It was defensive. So I said, “Look, the reason for me asking this question is I’m here to make you happy. Selling you these two tickets and sending you to the Playboy mansion ain’t going to make you happy, sending you to Napa, that’s going to make you happy. So I’m trying to find out why would you spend so much money to go to an event, which you clearly don’t even want to be at? Are you gay?”
And he came back and he went, “Yes.” I said, “Right. So this is what we’re going to do. I’m guessing you’re in some kind of environment or you’re being compelled to try and show off because there’s no other reason for you to go to this event other than trying to throw someone off a scent or you’re in a situation where you don’t want people to know your private life, am I on the right track?” And he said, “Yes.” And he revealed to me that he was actually a stockbroker, one of the macho-est industries over in New York. Well, he was down in Wall Street. So he was in the thick and heavy. He didn’t want people to pry into his private life. And why should he?
I said to him, “This is what we’re going to do. You are going to fly over and you’re going to arrive on the Friday, and the party’s on the Saturday night.” I said, “On that Friday, you’re then going to bugger off on a connecting flight up into Napa. We’re going to put you up.” And we put this whole thing together where he was going to go to Auberge and he was going to go to some of the Napa vineyards. “And then what you’re going to do is you’re going to come back to LA on the Monday, and I’m going to give you two stubs and wristbands for the Playboy mansion party. You can fly back to New York, drop them on the desk and refuse to talk about the party. But the proof is there. But you are never going to go.”
And that’s what we did. We actually got the wristbands and the two ticket stubs from someone else that went to the party and gave these to these person. You see, what we needed to do was focus on what the client actually wanted and provide him that. What he didn’t want was to go to the party. What he wanted to do was to throw the people off to scent. It’s a shame that he should have to do that. But that’s what it was for. And he came over, I met him with him personally and just said hi to him because I live in LA. And he went off up to Napa and then came back and I made sure he got those stubs. I had dinner with him. And then he went off back to New York.
He was over the moon that he had spent, to be honest with you not less, not much less than if he’d gone to the Playboy mansion, because we really laid it on thick and heavy for him up in Napa. And he had a good time. Now that was the deal done. But you know, this guy actually contacted some of the biggest magazines out there, Genre and Out, that were two of the largest gay lifestyle magazines at the time, and actually recommended me for an article. And I got an article in both of those publications because I’d listened to what the client wanted, needed and desired rather than what they had asked for.
How many times do you give a client what they ask for without actually trying to understand why is there the need? The next time a client actually says to you, “Hey, I want this,” ask them, “Why? Why is that important?” And the book always says, Bluefishing always says, ask why three times. But trying to understand what is the cause that’s creating the need and focus on that and not the need itself. This is Steve Sims. I’m here to hopefully help you within your business. I hope this does help. If it doesn’t then stop listening. If it does and you think it can impact other people then share it. But this has been another episode of The Art of Making Things Happen.