Give Me One Good Reason I Should Do Business With You

SHARK-TANKA few months ago, I started watching some episodes of “Shark Tank” and I got hooked!  There are some serious business lessons that can be learned by viewing the show and I saw one of them last week while I was watching a rerun from a previous season (it’s sad, I’m completely hooked now and I’m checking out past episodes).

There was an entrepreneur on the show by the name of Raven Thomas.  Raven started a food business called, The Painted Pretzel (pretzels covered with chocolate and other confectionaries).

She had a pretty good business and, according to the panelists (The Sharks), a product that was delicious. After a fair amount of discussion, Lori Greiner (one of the Sharks) got down to the end of the conversation and asked, “Why should we invest in you?”   I realized at that moment that this was the big question and I knew Raven’s answer could make or break the deal.  Raven replied to Lori with… “The main reason is that I have two little kids and . . . (blah, blah, blah, blah, blah).”  I immediately paused the show, looked to my wife Beth, and practically screamed “She just blew it!  She totally gave a relational answer to a bunch of transactional SHARKS!  They don’t care about blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, they want something closer to ‘show me the money’ than ‘I love what I do!’” 

Beth replied, “You have to know your audience when you are talking about your business.” Her statement was spot on.   Before I started up the episode again, Beth and I talked about how crucial it was for Raven to speak the language that the Sharks speak if she wanted them to invest in her.  She needed to speak a language focused on opportunity, growth, ROI, and cold hard cash.  Instead, Raven talked about how she felt about her business and how it related to her children.  Her answer failed to include anything at all that the Sharks would relate to as serious, analytical business investors looking for reasons to convince them Raven’s business would be a wise financial investment.

I resumed watching the episode so I could witness the train wreck which I was sure was about to ensue.  To my astonishment, Robert Herjavec gave Raven a “do-over” (I really like this Shark – if I ever have the chance to be a panelist on a business show, I’d like to think my style would be similar to his).  Robert looked at Raven and gave her a chance to give a better answer by saying to her, “Let’s do that again.She took a moment and said, “A good reason to invest in me is that I had to walk away from a $2 million deal because I did not have the capital to fill the order . . . and that door is still open.” This answer was a show stopper—it completely landed the Sharks’ attention.  Within a few moments, Mark Cuban (Shark and owner of the Dallas Mavericks) offered Raven $100,000 cash and distribution of her product at his stadium and at each location of the movie theater chain he owns!  She, of course, said yes to Mark’s offer.  As a result, she now expects that her company’s sales will exceed $1.2 million dollars this year!

The lesson to be learned here is that it is absolutely imperative to know your audience and tailor your comments to suit the people you’re talking to.  This is an extremely important lesson in both the business arena and the networking arena.  In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why I recommend that when you first meet people, you begin by asking them questions about themselves prior to speaking in length about yourself.  The more you know about the people you’re talking to, the better able you will be to craft your own message in a way that effectively resonates with them.

I’d love to hear either a success story or a horror story that you might have about people “knowing” or “not knowing” their audience.  Please share your story in the comment forum below. Thanks!

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10 thoughts on “Give Me One Good Reason I Should Do Business With You

  1. I love Shark Tank. I learn the art of the marking deal from the show. I recommended it to my friends and participants of my programs. The show provides a lot of values to its audiences especially those who want to start or are running business.

  2. I am remembering back to when we first joined BNI. First, bottom-line answer would be invest in us so we can invest in others to help them grow. Now that I answered incorrectly, here is the rest of the story.

    My wife joined a BNI chapter when invited as a Realtor. She told me what she had done when we didn’t have the money (my opinion at the time). She got me to join and a year later I wanted to quit because I had so few referrals. She asked me “how many referrals have you given.” My answer: “a few.” She said: “try focusing on giving and see what happens.”

    By the end of the tenth year we were doing 100% of our business through BNI because we were completely focused on giving referrals. We bought the BNI region where we live and more than doubled the number of member in 3 years. We sold our business to retire. We still love to give referrals and are Senior Director Consultants. Givers Gain (R).

    Zig Ziglar said it right: “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.”

  3. Not BNI related but I use it on presentation skills and the topic of analysing your audience. I once observed a Government bureaucrat give a talk about changes to legislation in the security industry and the related funding available to support the accredited training required. This involved handing big pots of money to large training organisations who, it was expected, would then generously award some of that money by way of contracts to their much smaller competitors (of course they would, wouldn’t they?). The audience was predominantly made up of, you guessed it, a lot of small providers, who changed during the talk from mild unease to mass outrage. What got their dander up most was his supercilious manner and it’s the only time I’ve seen a speaker booed from the platform, the audience throwing papers at him as he collected his briefcase and skulked off. I’ve often wondered what on earth he was thinking before that talk and always recommend asking:
    Who are they?
    What do they know.not know?
    What’s in it for them? (or not in this case)
    etc etc

    Wish I had a video of it, though it was car crash material.

  4. Just a thought – Could it be that Raven’s first answer actually increased her chance of success because it was indeed, a relational answer? Could she have received the deal with Mark Cuban because of it? Even if transactional minded people don’t like to admit that warm fuzzies affect them, biology doesn’t discriminate between believers and non-believers. Although I didn’t see it, her story may have been touching enough to cause the release of oxytocin in the brains of the Sharks, which increases trust, generosity and empathy.

  5. Glen, good question but I don’t think there is any possibility that it increased her chances. Watch the episode. They pretty much told her that it was bad answer. They were anything but “touched” by it and told her so. Even Robert Herjevec said it was the wrong answer. He was nice enough to give her the “do-over.”

  6. I am really starting to get that concept of knowing your audience before you try to sell yourself.
    I joined a BNI group this past December 2013 as a Skin Care Specialist . The group is made up of 3/4 men.
    Its rather funny actually, in my weekly 60 second commercial, I usually do a big belly flop, as the guys eyes glaze over with barely suppressed yawns.
    I really can’t blame them, so I have been trying to figure out how to make it more interesting.
    I decided to focused on the scientific aspect of skin and the importance of its health. Lets see how I do on my 10 min. presentation this week 🙂

    1. Hi Mariana!
      Did you know people are more likely to do business with attractive people?
      They are also more likely to trust attractive people. There are tons of studies you could quote to that matter… I know a ton of guys who tried out a wrinkle-cream from one of our members. Even men want to look young! Translate it to dollars and cents. Good photo on their website, Wrinkle free smile during THEIR presentation… etc. Also – remember that your commercial is not meant to educate your fellow members about your product, but rather to teach them how to identify a referral with their senses. Do they hear a friend complaining about how red their skin is? Do they see their best friend developing a turkey neck wobble when they talk? Do they smell facecream on someone – If they smell facecream they can ask them what they’re using, then follow up with a shout out for your product. Just some ideas!

  7. So many great points you make here Dr. Misner!
    I too learned about Shark Tank recently as I don’t watch much TV. We are catching up on old shows in the series and I use it as a business lesson program for my homeschooled teenage son. I am amazed how much he is picking up, things I am learning now for the first time.
    I have learned so much while in BNI (2 years) and targeting your audience is a BIG one! Being with a company that largely is known for its skin care I fully understand Mariana’s challenges. Being a Health & Wellness advisor I really try to focus on health side of things. I too am in a heavily male chapter, however I have found that if I spend more time educating and not ‘selling’ in my 60 seconds I am seeing more men coming around.

    Thank you for all you have done for business people the world over Dr. Misner! I look forward to seeing you on the 11th of April in Nashville. It is my desire & dream to shake your hand!

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