3 slick selling techniques you should take from the Time-share Salesperson

Time-share people get a bad press. 

While most people avoid them like the plague, I have the height of respect for them. And I think we can learn a lot from their selling techniques.

In fact I recently dedicated an afternoon of my precious time in Hong Kong to reacquaint myself with their interesting technique.

First off is the guy who stops you on the street and invites you to try your luck on a scratch card.  Surprise, surprise – you have won a t-shirt or bottle of wine!  BUT, your scratch-card friend does not have your prize to hand – you have to visit the complex where the timeshare is for sale to pick it up.  Once in the complex, you will be interviewed by someone who will find out all about you (hobbies, kids, etc.) and then present the complex in terms that are likely to attract you. Finally, you meet with Mr/Ms “Yes or No” – who asks you , in no uncertain terms, whether you want to buy or not.

What I love is the clarity of the roles involved and what they can tell us about the process of selling.

Scratchcard man never confuses the issue: he is not there to sell timeshare, his job is to get you to visit to the complex.  Presentation woman never confuses the issue: she is not there to sell timeshare, her job is to present the complex in terms that you find attractive.  And finally you come to  Mr/Ms Yes or No: it’s their job to sell timeshare and only they ask directly for the business.

Most presenters and sales people get nowhere near the clarity of the timeshare team. 

Here are three lessons we can learn from them:

1. Work out exactly where you are in the sales process (whether you are selling a product, service, information, approach, idea).  I worked with the production manager of an industrial paints and coatings company some time ago.  I sat through his ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ presentation (company history, milestones, products, clients, markets – you get the picture).  When I asked him “how will you know if your presentation is successful?” he answered immediately: “They will send two of their technical staff down to our factory to meet our technical team”.  We reworked his presentation with a very clear objective “persuade the potential client to send two technical staff to the factory”.  Always work out a clear objective based on where you are in the sales process.

2. Start where your audience is right now.  Are they happy, worried, bored, experienced?  If you are introducing performance management for the third time, because it’s flopped the first two times, then standing up and telling people that performance management is the best thing ever is unlikely to engage your audience.  Start where they are – not where you are.

3. Tell the audience your objective clearly and unambiguously, unless you have a great reason not to.  “We want to be on your list of preferred suppliers”, “I want to persuade you to increase the marketing budget by 50% at your next senior management meeting”.  Most presenters think in terms of inputs (“I’ll tell them…) rather than outputs (“they will buy, change…”).  Writing powerful objectives is much harder than it sounds.  Tip:  keep asking “so that?” – you will eventually arrive at a clear output.

So, was it worth an afternoon of my life?  Still have the t-shirt.  Haven’t worn it once.

Julia Rowan is a member of IMI’s Associate Faculty and a highly acclaimed training consultant, facilitator and coach.  She has worked in companies throughout Europe helping managers and specialists at all levels to do better work in less time.  Her career path has included positions in financial services, marketing, lobbying and public relations.  

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