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A re-cap of first day in my new Timeshare sales job
“You look like shit”.
This sounded familiar.
“Seriously. Do you have a white shirt?”
Me: “No. They haven’t given me a work shirt yet, so I was told to just wear a dress shirt. Is this not good…?”
“No it is not. You look like the daughter’s boyfriend. And nobody likes the boyfriend….at least not til he puts a ring on the girl’s finger.”
This was my new mentor who I was supposed to follow. To shadow and learn was my sole task, and apparently I was failing at that before I even opened my mouth. She had been in the business for 30 years. Sharp, sassy, very obese, and donning a very tacky bra that was impossible not to see through her white work shirt. She was an experienced sales woman who knew the trade inside and out. A no-nonsense ball-breaker. And she hated me.
[As she carefully eyes me all over] “…And I don’t know what is going on with your hair? You young guys do all this funky stuff with it. What’s that about? You have to shave that beard, I wouldn’t buy shit from you.”
Me: “Oh really? Well…”
Mentor: “Look. I hate shadows. I don’t want you on my tour. But I am stuck with you….shit, you have nice eyes too…”
Me: “Really? Thanks they….(cuts off)
Mentor: “No dummie. That is bad. I want all the attention on me and my tour. I don’t want you to be a distracter or give them a reason to divert any attention away from what I am saying. Don’t say a single fucking word.”
Me: “Ah Okay. But isn’t that kind of strange, socially speakin…”
Before I could finish my thought she had walked off to gather her new potential clients: An overly happy looking Canadian couple .
Mentor: “Hi my name is Thais. I will be your guide helping you make better vacations decisions today. This is Turner. He is new and will be shadowing along with us trying to learn something. Don’t pay any attention to him.”[awkward pause]
Canadian Couple: “Hi Turner…it is so nice to meet you.”
Mentor: “Seriously. No attention.”
Canadian Woman: “Oh ok. But he has such nice eyes”.
Mentor: (mumbled) “…fuck…”
As we made our way over to one of the tables in the
shark feeding customer staging area, the Canadian man lingers back and turns to me.
Canadian Man: “So where you from, eh?
Canadian Man: “Oh golly, I just love Seattle. I….”
Mentor: “Are you kiddin me? I mean it. Stop.”
The mentor then strategically sat the Canadian couple down at the table facing the giant mural of a young, handsome family having fun on vacation, while we sat facing the exit doors. It is part of the overall experience. Creating the proper environment to lure people into. As we sat down my mentor guided the conversation effortlessly. After wrangling cattle that didn’t want to be wrangled for 30 years, she was skillful at building rapport and forcing people to talk. As she reminisced on life with perfectly reenacted canned stories, she pulled out the company questionnaire: the Discovery. The Discovery is basically a 4-page survey, where you ask the potential customers everything about their vacation history. The details that they reveal basically pave the exact road map that you will use to logically sell them later, by blowing their objections out of the water before they can use them. It is as brilliant as it is sinister.
Where do you go on vacation? How often do you go on vacation and how much do you spend? Why do you go on vacation? What would stop you from going on vacation? Etc.
After the Discovery comes the most important part of the entire sales dance: breaking the pact.
The Timeshares industry knows they have a bad name. It is no secret. It is the reason you see so many Timeshare Resorts calling themselves “Vacation Clubs” or “Holiday Memberships”. Rebranding. But because they know this, they also know the psyche of the potential customers. They know that each couple coming in always creates a pact with one another not to buy the membership no matter what. They are only there to fake interest and get the free stuff one of the OPCs promised them. Knowing this, the Timeshare Resort sales team management cleverly engages this pact by acknowledging it openly to the customers, verbally (and even jokingly) getting them to admit it, and then making them verbally break the pact between each other by having them say out loud that they will “listen to the presentation with an open mind”. Amateur salesman would try to mask and dress up the Timeshare program; the pros lean into the negativity. It is psychological ju-jitsu and it is amazing to watch as couples who adamantly refuse to be sold, whip out their credit cards like Pavlovian dogs salivating at their future vacation dreams. This is where Sales Dick Axiom numero dos comes into play – The game is a two way interaction. You are either selling them, or they are selling you.
Mentor: “So you didn’t know this was a sales presentation?”
Canadian Couple: “Heavens no. We just thought we were coming by…for breakfast and to see the property.”
Mentor: “What? So you think people just give you stuff for nothing?”[awkward pause]
Canadian Couple: “No, but…”
Mentor: “Well before we can proceed I need to you have an open mind and be willing to hear me out. Are you willing to have an open mind?”
Canadian Couple: “Eh Yes…I suppose.”
Mentor: “No, I need you to really have an open mind and say so or we can not proceed.”
Canadian Couple: “Ok. We will have an open mind.”[Mentor waves over manager]
Mentor: “They didn’t know they were coming to a sales presentation today, but they have agreed to have an open mind.”
Manager: “Great. So you can go into the presentation today with an open mind?”
Canadian Couple: “Yes. We will have an open mind.”
Psychological brinksmanship at its finest. Outwardly forcing the couple to verbally break their pact not once, but twice.
Mentor: “Great. Let’s get breakfast.”
The rest of sales gauntlet(breakfast, property tour, room demonstration), went by, as one would expect from people who were not serious about buying, fake enthusiasm and attempting to make small talk. Several times the couple attempted to engage me in chatter, forcing my mentor to chide them and me for engaging in normal human social behavior.
Mentor: “Hey, I know what you are doing and can appreciate your attempts, but he is not to be spoken to. And he wants to keep his job.”
I merely stared off in the distance. How could I maintain eye contact and not speak? I am not a mime. But my mentor was experienced and couldn’t care less about adhering to social norms. She knew the kind of people she was dealing with. She was a sales pitbull.
Back in the customer staging area, my mentor took her game to the next level. After revealing the final purchasing membership numbers, she put the clients on the spot and asked them what reservations they had about “becoming our newest members today?”
Mentor: “What is unsatisfactory? Is the price the issue?”
Canadian Woman: “It just doesn’t feel right. We couldn’t possibly afford it. We should probably just go now”.
Mentor: “Then why would you come on my tour today? Why would you waste my time? This is how I make my living.”
She had pinned them into a corner. The Canadians were no match for her abrasive dominance. Sale Dick Axiom 3 – Never lose control of the conversation. Be strong on your table.
Canadian woman: “Look I appreciate the tour, but this just isn’t for us. We never said we were interested in buying anything. I am sorry but it is my husband’s birthday and we want to spend it pleasantly.”
Mentor: “So you just came for free stuff? I don’t believe you even gave me a fair opportunity. I just wanted a fair chance. You agreed before we began that you were interested and would have an open mind.”
The awkwardness was unbearable. But she was determined to play the hand out. Sales Dick Axiom 4 – As long as there is a breathing person in front of you with a credit card, the deal is not lost.
The Canadian couple then got up and headed toward the receptionist at the exit, to claim their victory prizes.
Me: “Wow. You really put those people on the spot”.
Mentor: “That was nothing. I would have really laid into them had there not been other customers nearby. Those kind of people piss me off. Wasting my time like that.”
Me: “What? People not interested in buying?”
Mentor: “Yea. Pretending not to know it was sales presentation. People are stupid but not that stupid.”
Me: “Yeah I guess so.”
Mentor: “So, are you going to shave that ugly fucking beard or what?”