June 15, 2012 — Change never comes easy in the timeshare business. For example the mere suggestion of altering the selling process on those (mostly) little round tables is enough to make some in ‘the biz’ go into immediate convulsions while their heads rotate 360 degrees, green vomit spews from their mouths and they scream obscenities as to why change is not an option!
However one modification that needs to be considered, discussed, analyzed and then implemented at most sales centers is for developers to gradually convert from the standard T/O (take/turn-over) selling procedure to a more professional, effective, productive and profitable F/B (front-to-back) selling process.
Before I briefly qualify that assertion it must be conceded that there is a considerable pool of seasoned F/B sales professionals within our industry as well as from all other business sectors from which to recruit, consisting of highly talented, capable, loyal, qualified and proven F/B sales experts.
And that these dedicated hard working top-earners, many of whom are also ‘cold-calling’ professionals (in other industries) who generate their own prospects and who at some point in their lives made a conscience decision to choose a sales career as their profession of choice.
When they did so they wanted their security, careers, futures and incomes to achieve optimum success; and, like the pros of any other vocation, they, too, invested the time required to hone their skills to such a level and degree that they are the most highly regarded, respected and sought after ‘producers’ within their respective industries.
That said, and from a professional sales environment point of view, the standardized timeshare T/O system is riddled, like the ‘car business’, with a host of problems that are intrinsic by its very nature, structure and process.
Today there is not sufficient time to cover all aspects of the inadequacies in the T/O system so let us consider a couple of the basic but very important fundamental issues that developers should mull over and that do affect their bottom lines.
The primary issue is that the vast majority of front-line sales representatives (aka: “liners”), and I mean no disrespect, are ill-equipped, under-trained and lack sufficient life experiences, sales training, sales education and sales backgrounds required to be a truly successful career sales specialist.
That includes, but is not limited to, their inability to be multifaceted when dealing with various sales guest personality ‘types’ (and their moods), their backgrounds, education levels, lifestyles, etc. whom they ‘Meet & Greet’ every day beginning with that ever so critical first impression phase of the sales presentation.
The T/O system is basically a one-trick pony and the front line reps simply go through set-in-stone motions regardless if a prospect is Bubba and the ‘Mrs.’ from Needles, California working for the City, or Brandon and Tracy who own a company in Silicon Valley and are hoping to soon launch their IPO (Initial Public Offering).
In the T/O system the ‘rep’ is basically taught (or told) how to ‘tour’ because according to the T/O methodology an ‘UP IS AN UP’. Yet nothing could be further from the truth except, that is, all those other antiquated timeshare sales myths that plague our sales centers. But those issues, thankfully, won’t be covered today (happy face)!
Another issue with the T/O sales process is that ‘front-line’ reps often believe that as long as they stick to the ‘basics’ then making the ‘deal’ is really up to the closer anyway and once the rep completes the ‘tour’ and calls for assistance that is the end of their responsibility.
When the reps leave the table they do often believe, in their judgment, there is ‘deal’ on their table and if the closer doesn’t make it happen the rep often blames the ‘no-sale’ on the closer and then share their perspective with other reps. On the reverse side of the T/O coin, if the ‘deal’ doesn’t go down guess who the closer is often citing as the reason?
The next serious flaw in the standardized T/O system is how ‘closers’ all too often roll the dice. Because the T/O has no idea what sort of conversation transpired within that first 30-45 minutes, have not witnessed the interest level displayed by the sales guest as well how many (real) buying questions had been asked, etc., when called to the table the closer usually determines within seconds of arriving if there is a ‘shot’ (or not), so to speak.
Additionally, if the T/O concludes, in nearly a heartbeat, that the sales guest doesn’t appear to be all that enthused, etc., s/he will often be inclined to ‘spin to win’ and zip through the back end without so much as a second thought, as quickly as possible blowing off that very expensive sales guest so the closer can ‘hit’ another table.
As I mentioned there are many (other) flaws in the T/O process that we won’t cover today and if the ‘biggies’ that I have pointed out herein aren’t clear then the rest will likely fall on deaf ears and to discuss them further would be an exercise in futility.
And for the record I’m not saying all front-end reps are less than adequate or that all closers are table hopping, etc., because in the T/O system there are assuredly many good reps and closers!
What I am saying however — based on untold millions of dollars in sales under my belt over the years, both personal and ‘managed’, and having personally sold/closed ‘deals’ in all timeshare sales systems — is what I’ve always said and that is simply this:
If any developer operating a T/O system wants a more conducive and productive sales team producing higher net closing ratios, higher net YTD VPG’s, higher net per contract sales, lower net rescissions and lower sales operational costs, etc., then ‘Front to Back is where it’s At’!
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