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Timeshare Sales Techniques Revealed

Guest columnist Mark Silverman reveals secret techniques of timeshare sales professionals used to close deals.

Monday, March 25, 2002
Mark Silverman
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Timeshare Sales Techniques Revealed

Timeshare salespeople include all types; from shysters and sleazes to straight shooters, but they have certain traits in common. There are certain common traits and techniques they all employ, all with the purpose of “closing the deal - today”. Tomorrow does not exist.

Let’s look at some of those techniques. They can write upside down. When I was on the front lines, I wrote considerably better upside down. It’s so that you could read the pad in front of me, looking at the sketches of hotels and imagining yourself on vacation.

They have their favorite tools. Most will use a yellow, not white, legal pad. Felt tipped pens, not ballpoints. There’s just something about the slight friction of the felt over the paper that feels very right. I made a point of taking a brand new pen each day. Unless, of course, I closed more than one deal the day before – you couldn’t pry that pen from me if it was on a hot streak!

The presentation is all about misdirection and distraction. The music, for instance. It’s loud and festive, and, truth to tell, it can be a bit annoying. It’s supposed to put you in the mood; but it also conceals the conversations at the next table. Another purpose of the music is when they turn it down, you really notice the silence – to announce another new owner (sometimes fictional) joining the program. The other way we called attention to new owners was to open a celebratory bottle of champagne. There were times that the cork did not pop loud enough…we’d just open another bottle.

They also read quite well upside down. The resort directory is the bible. It contains a description of every property that you can exchange into. The book is on the table so that the buyer can see the pictures and descriptions. It got to the point that when I used the book to make my own vacation plans it looked really odd to me when I held it right side up!

We all have favorite pages in the book. The castle in Scotland or Mediterranean yacht were always shown. Some tourguides would actually bookmark specific pages with paperclips, so they could point them out. I preferred to “come across” the same properties each time. We also knew the book well enough to rapidly find resorts that would be of particular interest to each prospect, depending on what you told us you enjoy.

The books come out annually, and could get pretty beat up after being shown to several clients each day, five days a week. Often, we would get the covers laminated so they would last longer. Vultures have nothing compared to veteran timeshare salespeople circling the barely used book left behind by a tourguide that has recently quit!

Stories are told by everybody at the table, sellers and buyers. All the salespeople owned timeshare, or their parents owned and it was always something similar to what you’ve told them you’d like. Many timeshare salespeople actually don’t own, but they do their best to mirror common interests of potential buyers. For months I was telling people about my timeshare on the beach at San Clemente – it was kind of funny when the timeshare I bought was, in fact, on the beach of San Clemente.

Probably my favorite client from my years on the tables was the biker couple. Tattooed and tank-topped, they were the text book stereotype. He claimed he hated to travel, that she dragged him to the presentation, and that was only to get the free trip to Vegas. I asked when the last time was that he had gone away. “Only trip in the last 10 years was to Italy last year”. “How’d that go”? I asked. “Flipped my bike, and they ended up amputating my leg. Spent two weeks in the hospital”. “Above or below the knee”? With that, he slid his chair back, grabbed his boot, pivoted his leg at mid-thigh, so that the bottom of his boot faced the ceiling. He grinned at me as he rested his coffee cup on the sole of his boot. “Vacations and I just don’t get along”. I smiled back as I told him my experiences traveling with my disabled mother, as well as my experiences with the Quadzilla quadriplegic rugby team. “If these folks can snow-ski, water-ski and sky dive, that little trick leg of yours is not gonna be much of a problem for you”. His lady friend smiled a mile wide. They ended up with two weeks of timeshare. When he walked to the wall to get his new owner photo taken, he turned the leg so that the toes faced behind him and smiled as wide as his lady.

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