How to ‘Discover’ Your Client’s Hidden Desire for a Private Theater
Sam Cavitt (samcavittmedesign.tv) is president of Paradise Theater in Kihei, Hawaii, and Carlsbad, California.
Paradise Theater has had the privilege to work with integrators from many regions, who have provided lot of diverse feedback. One disturbing trend is the perspective that “people just aren’t doing private theaters like they used to,” or that “people aren’t willing to spend the money…” Yet, a select group of electronic systems contractors and sales designers bring us project after project and continue to raise the standard of excellence in our field. Why the disparity?
I took a closer look and found a number of differences between successful and struggling ESCs and sales designers and realized that there is an approach that fosters a more advantageous perspective and method of communication with prospective clientele. First for the differences…
We have all heard about the client for whom money is no object. Well, I have yet to meet that client. Paradise Theater has completed rooms that cost well over $1-million, yet even those rooms had a budget. It’s important to broach the topic of price at the right time in the sales process, and that shouldn’t be at the start. Successful theater sales professionals that we polled say that they did not discuss the subject of price until the client knew more about what was possible and the sales person knew more about the client.
Another significant difference is in how the concept of home theater is defined. Unfortunately the prevalent trend of the marketplace is to define home theater by the equipment or the latest technology trend seen in commercials from big-box stores.
The other, better definition is that a home theater is an environment that provides an experience. ESCs taking that approach described it in several ways. Some said things like “a private space where the family gathered to enjoy their favorite movies” or “a sanctuary in the home where the whole family or maybe just the kids watched movies, played games and hung out,” or “a room that brought the experience of going out to the movies home, but the way it was meant to be!”
This private screening room, dubbed “ The Director’s Chair,” is one client’s dream theater. Discovering the client’s goal for the space enabled the designers to integrate studio-quality acoustics and world-class design.
How can we expect to sell something that will enhance our clients’ lives without passion? As private theater designers, we are bringing togetherness, entertainment, richness of sight and sound, and more to our clients’ lifestyles. Call them “enhancements” and “luxuries,” if you will, but I don’t want to live my life without these things. Successful sales people convey the passion that they have for home theater to their clients. The result is a client who wants what that individual has to offer.
So, how do we achieve this shift in sales perspective in today’s marketplace? Initially, the change must come from within. We need to educate ourselves as an industry about what it is we have to offer. If we want to convey passion and inspire our clientele to desire that excitement in their own lives, then we need to embody it ourselves. For instance, think about what you enjoy about the private theater experience. Is it live music recordings, suspenseful movies, or immersive gaming?
Discover the Secret
Rather than telling your clientele what is available, help them discover it for themselves. A recent client asked us why he should invest so much in an acoustically engineered private theater when he could not discern the difference between good sound and bad. “Why not just install the equipment and decorate the room?” he asked. Knowing that the client had a wine cellar specified in the new home, we applied an analogy that was meaningful to him.
“When you first started collecting wine you probably didn’t know all the qualities that separate the ordinary from the sublime, but you discovered these differences,” we said. “Sound is like that. If you never have the opportunity to experience quality, you will have missed out on a good thing in your life.”
We have found that personalizing the experience from the beginning increases our client’s desire and perceived value for our services.