What You Should Know Before Entering the Lion’s Den of Vacation Ownership-Timeshare Presentations

We have all seen the pop up ads that seem to scream out “Congratulations….you are today’s lucky recipient of a 5 day/4 night Luxury Cancun Vacation or a Caribbean Dream Cruise…” Or you may have received that automated phone call informing you that you have won that all inclusive vacation in Florida. Before you impulsively click on the box or call that 1-800 number you need to realize that these are promotions to solicit sales of either a timeshare or vacation ownership package.

We are inundated daily with telemarketers, pop up ads, unsolicited e-mails and fliers in the mail. Most of the time we either delete them from our computer or throw them out.

However, think about it for a moment. Wouldn’t you like to go on that cruise or lay around at some posh resort soaking in the sun? You may want to reconsider for a moment that at $199 that cruise does seem appealing, right? The cost does not include your flights, taxes and other costs to take this vacation, but still you can get a good deal and have a great time at a fraction of the cost you would spend if you booked the vacation or cruise through an online travel agency. Here are a few tips that will help you escape unscathed as you enter the Lion’s Den of Timeshare and Vacation Ownership Presentations.

The first thing you need to do as a couple is to ask yourselves some pertinent questions about what you plan to do and where to go for the next five to ten years. Dream a little and be adventuresome with your ideas. Most important, be honest and realistic. If you like to camp, boat, go on tours, ski, go on safaris, etc. as part of your vacation mix, then staying at a resort and laying on a beach in the sun may seem a bit boring, and not part of your lifestyle. Or you may like to stay at a resort once every two years instead of every year, and go camping, fishing or hiking on the alternate years. It is up to you to formulate a vacation plan that suits you best and stick with it. Calculate what you approximately spend on your vacation each year. You may have kept your charge card receipts from previous years. Get a rough estimate on travel, food, lodging and special events. This is important to know as you will be asked what you typically spend on your vacation each year. Armed with those figures head of time will help you make and informed decision whether a timeshare or vacation ownership package is a wise choice for you or not.

Secondly, because timeshares and vacation ownership properties can be willed to your children, consider what your children enjoy doing on their vacations. Your son or daughter may prefer to go white water rafting on the Colorado River, hike the Chilkoot trail in the Yukon or rough it in India rather than soak up rays in Cancun, Mexico. Then again, they may have similar interests to you and would love to enjoy a week in a resort. Discuss your intentions with your children before you go on your trip, rather than surprise them with the news that you had purchased a timeshare package, after you get back.

Once you get to your destination you will check into the ubiquitous ‘Welcome Center’. This is the hub of the Lion’s Den of Timeshare/Vacation Ownership sales presentations. It is here that you register for your presentation and pick up your room keys. You may be required to leave a deposit or credit card imprint. This is to ensure that you will show up for the presentation meeting. Don’t worry, you will get your money back after the presentation and they most likely will give you a gift as an incentive for attending the presentation, such as an additional night’s stay, theme part tickets, clothing, wine or money.

The next day at the Welcome Center you will be ushered to a waiting area to sit with dozens of other tourists. Coffee, doughnuts and other goodies will be served while you wait for your presenter to come and get you.

Once you meet your presenter it is imperative that you confirm the time limit on the presentation. If the company has stated that the presentation will take no more than 90 minutes, then establish that you will allow an additional half hour to run overtime. That is fair. It is very easy to get bogged down in three or four hour presentations or longer. Be firm, but polite and stick by your guns but letting the presenter know how much time they have left.

After the initial interview you will be taken on a tour of a typical two or three bedroom unit. You will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the units. Timeshares have come a long way from what they were even ten years ago. The figures will be scribbled on a sheet of lined foolscap paper. The deal for today, they will say will include the first year of maintenance fees which includes the first year membership in one of the two major timeshare trading companies, either II (Interval International) or RCI (Resorts Condominiums International). You will be left alone to discuss the proposal. If you have done your homework you will know if this deal is for you, but wait, there will be other deals.

The Salesperson will return and if the two of you have decided that the deal is not for you, the salesperson will bring the boss to reiterate the deal. Then they will offer you a one bedroom unit with perhaps the same options as the first deal. You will be left alone a second time to talk it over. If you still have decided against the proposal, then a third option is offered, most likely a studio unit (bedroom, kitchen and eating area in one room). They will apply pressure for you to make a decision to buy. Again, if the proposal is still not right for you and your family, go with your gut feeling and say no. However, if this is the unit you want and it is in the resort community you prefer, and meets your financial terms, then go for it.

Before you make your decision, I recommend that you do a lot of research by checking out timeshares and vacation ownership properties on the internet. You will discover that prices may vary depending on the quality of the units being offered and the resort location. If you and your family like theme parks, then purchasing a unit near Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, etc. may be your best bet. While others may be more interested in purchasing a timeshare near wonderful golf courses, or world class ski resorts. Take your time before you choose your unit and consult others who have purchased a unit in a community you are considering. Find out if they like their unit and the recreational facilities and other amenities in their community. If they offer positive feedback then you may consider purchasing a property.

For comparison here are some typical figures the salesperson may get thrown at you. For a two-bedroom unit with two weeks of regular time each year and two additional bonus weeks added when purchasing the unit may sell for $15,000 with legal closing costs of $525 and $150 in taxes. The maintenance costs which covers property upkeep, insurance, taxes and refurbishing costs, new appliances, etc. are $500 per year. Resort Condominiums International (RCI) or Interval International (II) can trade your week at your resort for another week at another resort from over 5000 resorts combined around the world. Depending whether you have purchased a peak season high demand week (red), mid season (white for RCI or yellow/amber for II) or low demand (blue for RCI or green for II), your annual fees may be approximately $90 per year. For a two-bedroom unit for two weeks (one week added during the purchase year) every second year (E.O.Y.) was selling for about $10,000 with $350 in closing costs, $500 E.O.Y. maintenance costs and $150 E.O.Y. for taxes. These figures are an approximation and are provided to offer you some insight as to what these units cost and maintain. I urge you to check out some websites and compare their unit costs.

Similar to any important financial decision you make, get the best terms when you buy. Your decision to buy a timeshare or vacation ownership property can affect you and your family well into the future. If you decide to sell your unit several years down the road, you may find that will be selling your unit at a loss, and may not even recoup your initial investment. From my experience I have found that buying a timeshare or vacation ownership property should not be considered as a money making investment, but rather as an investment in your planned future quality vacation time. Honestly, this investment has far greater value beyond its’ ‘real estate value.’

To buy or not to buy, the decision is ultimately yours to make. When you make that phone call or click that mouse to try one on for size, at least you will get a taste of what it is like to experience the timeshare or vacation ownership lifestyle. Take the plunge, try it on for size.

6 Things NEVER to Say During Your Sales Presentation

I’ve been listening to sales rep pitch their products and services for over 25 years now, and there are still words, phrases and techniques that send shivers down my spine. And I’ll tell you now they send shivers down the spines of their prospects and clients, too.

Let’s face it – when selling over the phone, all you have is your voice, and the way you deliver your presentation – the words you use, the inflection, pacing and timing you use – has a huge impact on the way you are perceived by your prospects. Unfortunately, many sales reps project an image of being unprepared, unsure, rushed and sometimes even scared.

Your prospects sense this immediately. They know from your first few sentences whether they are dealing with a confident sales pro, or with someone who isn’t very sure of what they’re selling and who is uncomfortable with the sales process. And like sharks, these prospects will attack and blow you off with all the stalls, resistance and objections you get now.

If you want to project an image of professional competency, then make sure and avoid using any of the following statements or words:

What NOT to say when cold calling or prospecting:

1) Stop opening your calls with, “How are you?” I’ve written about this before, but 99% of sales reps are still telegraphing themselves as unwanted sales persons by starting out their conversations this way. How do YOU feel when someone you don’t know calls you and uses this worn out line? Probably like hanging up on them- which is exactly how your prospects feel as well. So stop it!

Instead, use a better opening line that immediately differentiates you from all the other sales reps calling your prospects. Use something that connects with them instead, that focuses them on the call and that forces them to think and interact with you.

A few of my favorites are: “How’s your Tuesday going so far?” and “Has it started/stopped snowing there yet?” and “Can you hear me O.K.?”

2) Take the word, “individual” out of your vocabulary when speaking, emailing or otherwise addressing a prospect, as in, “I know you’re a busy individual… The word individual is an institutional, cold phrase that doesn’t belong in a sales conversation.

Think about it: When was the last time someone you didn’t know called you and referred to you or your wife as “individuals”? How’d that make you feel? Did it give you the warm and fuzziness or did you make you think you were about to be committed?

The language you use must help you create a natural, conversational tone, and words like, “busy individual” or “busy professional”, etc, do just the opposite.

3) “Things of that nature.” I cringe as I even write those words… Whenever I hear a sales rep end a sentence with “Things of that nature,” I’m pretty sure they have no idea of what they’re talking about. That phrase is most often used by mediocre sales reps to hide or cover up the truth that they don’t know all the details of what they’re talking about. Or, it is used to as lazy way to bridge into other qualifying questions.

If you are using it now, please consider using something else, or better, explain a few of those “things” and then use a tie down to see how that landed…

What NOT to say when closing a sale:

1) “Can you transfer me to (the decision maker)?” Most presentations end with the stall: “Well, I need to run this by my boss/partner/manager/corporate, etc.” Unfortunately, this usually comes as a surprise to many sales reps who failed to qualify for this upfront. Some sales reps then think they can just bulldoze through the stall by demanding to talk to the decision maker right then and there.

While I applaud you for your tenacity, asking to blatantly go above the person’s head you’re speaking to or have just pitched, immediately alienates them. Often times this person is some kind of sales influencer and alienating them is NOT what you want to do.

Instead you should use different techniques, one of which being: “So, John, when you consult with your manager, is this something that you’re sold on and will recommend to them?” (If yes, then): “Great, how can I help you sell them on this?” (Only if they can’t think of anything): “Would it help if I spoke to them and went over this just like I did with you?”

That’s the way to get permission and to finally earn the right to speak to the decision maker.

2) “I don’t know about that – let me get back to you.” It’s O.K. that you don’t have an answer for something, but what’s important is that you convey that in a confident manner. Try any of the following:

“That’s a great question and we have several ways of handling that. Let me ask you a couple of questions regarding your particular situation, and then I’ll be able to get the best solution for you… OR

“That’s a good question for my technical support team. Let me see what they would propose and get back with you.” OR

“We have a whole department that deals with that, and I’ll check with them to give you the best solution.” Each of these responses helps you delay answering until you get the right answer, but they paint the picture of a bigger, more competent company structure which helps to give you credibility.

3) “When should I call you back?” Why would you want to put the crucial follow up of your sale in the hands of your customer? Asking this question means handing over control of the sale to the prospect which means you lose control. That’s bad. Here are better ways of keeping control and getting a commitment for a follow up call:

“How long will that take?” Then: “O.K. I’ve got my calendar open and that would put us to Tuesday of next week. Are you looking at your calendar? Great. How does 2:45pm look for you?” OR

“(Prospect Name) you’re probably as busy as I am, so let’s go ahead and schedule a follow up call to access progress. I can do this same time (tomorrow, Friday, next week), does that work for you?” OR

“It’s going to take me (a day, two days, a week, etc.) to get this started on my end, how about I give you a call around Friday at this time to see if there’s anything else you need? Does 2:15pm work for you again?”

The key here is to get a commitment. All top producers remain in control of the selling process and know when the next call in the sales cycle is – and so do their prospects!

So there you have six things to stay away from during your next sales call. As you use these techniques, you’ll find yourself developing better rapport, getting more information and staying in control of your selling situations. Heck, it’s starting to sound like you’re a top producer already!

Hidden Needs Drive Sales Negotiations

All sales negotiations are driven by both public and private needs. If you can understand and deal with the other side’s hidden needs, then you’ll have more power during the negotiation.

It’s What Lies Below The Surface That Really Matters
When we enter into a sales negotiation, we like to kid ourselves that we know what the other side is looking to get out of the negotiation. At least on the surface, all sales negotiations look the same.

The easy-to-see desires of the other side generally come down to one of three things: money, goods, and / or services. This is what we can see and this is what we spend our time preparing to negotiate. However, that’s really only part of the story.

Knowledge Of Hidden Needs Boosts Your Power
I’m sure that you’re probably already agreeing with me that knowing the other side of the table’s hidden needs would be advantageous when you are getting ready to negotiate. However, did you know that this knowledge will increase your negotiating power?

Remember that power in a sales negotiation is a difficult thing to nail down. However, the more that you know about the other side and their hidden needs, then the more negotiating power you’ll have.

The Search For Hidden Needs
If we can all agree that identifying the other side’s hidden needs is a good thing, than all that is left for us to talk about is just exactly HOW you can go about doing that. The key is to have a good set of questions.

These are the questions that you need to ask yourself BEFORE you enter into a sales negotiation. Not every question will pertain to this specific negotiation and your list will evolve over time. Here’s a good set of questions for you to start asking yourself:

  • Do they want to make their lives easier?
  • Do they want to appear to be competent?
  • Do they want peace of mind?
  • Do they want to be listened to?
  • Do they want freedom of choice?
  • Do they want to keep their job?
  • Do they want recognition?
  • Do they want to be liked?

Final Thoughts
As you enter into a sales negotiation, you need to realize that the other side of the table probably has more hidden needs than they have publicly known needs. What this means for you is that the other side of the table won’t say “yes” to your requests until after at least some of their hidden wants have been fulfilled.

In the end, all negotiating is about making sure that you have enough power to be successful. One of the most important keys is to realize that we need to also address the other side of the table’s hidden needs in order reach an agreement that both sides can live with.

If you can learn to spot these hidden needs before you enter into your next negotiation, then you will be able to close better deals and close them quicker.