The Discovery Process (The Best Timeshare Sales Team Ever)
Abercrombie & Kent is well known for putting together very expensive safaris and other outrageous trips. After many years of success, they decided to create a real estate division with 10 highly paid timeshare salespeople to sell what they called a “private residents club.” These were like timeshares, except much more expensive. And, unlike the usual timeshare sales model, the entire sales process took place over the telephone.
How Abercrombie & Kent sold timeshares over the phone
They began by generating leads, running an advertising campaign in high-end luxury magazines. These were very expensive leads, but their sales process was working 24/7. They had these 10 salespeople, but they didn’t work in an office. The only people in the office were there to field the calls.
One of those 10 people was always on call, so when a lead came in they would be notified by the office staff and would call the lead back immediately. Whether it was 2 o’clock in the morning on a Saturday or 3 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, one of those 10 returned that call.
The importance of asking questions and taking notes
They would take 20 minutes on the phone to get the lead talking about their friends and family and where they like to vacation, and even their hobbies. The entire time they would be taking notes. Every time the lead would ask them a question they’d say, “Oh, that’s a great question. We’re going to get back to that.” And then the salesperson would go back to asking more questions.
At the end of the call, they would say, “I’m going to courier you a package about our very exclusive Private Residence Club. There’s a lot of information in it and I can’t go through it with you over the phone, so I just want to confirm I’ve got your correct address. What I’d like to do right now is just book a time after you’ve taken few hours to review the information to go over any questions that you might have. Why don’t we set that call up for Wednesday evening?”
Following up and booking the next meeting
At 10 o’clock the next morning the package would show up. They would know that the courier delivered it because they would receive an online notification and at 10:01 a.m. the lead would get a call.
In Hong Kong, I explained the importance of calling a lead within five minutes:
“John, just want to make sure that you received that package.” Now, they already knew that the lead got the package, but they would call the lead anyways. “Great, you received it. Excellent. I just want to confirm that we’re going to speak tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m.? Fantastic.”
“Say you’re going to do something, and do it.”
By doing all of this, they created a huge amount of credibility. They said they were going to courier a book to them and they did. They said it was going to arrive at 10 o’clock and it did. They called back at 10 o’clock, which they didn’t need to do, but they did, just to build more rapport and then they confirmed the meeting. The next day, they sent an email, just to confirm the meeting again. Finally, after all that, they would call the lead. It was only then that the selling began.
Bringing in "the closer"
First, they would bring in someone called “the closer” by saying, “John, I know you have a lot of questions for me, so I have my manager on the phone. I know you’re a pretty sophisticated businessman and you’re going to ask me some tough questions, so I’ve asked Mary to be on our call.”
Putting things into perspective
They would start with the presentation, putting it in the lead’s terms. They would talk about things like if the lead would want to travel based on when their kids were off school because, remember, they took notes in that 20 minutes of discovery.
On the next call they would ask for a $5,000 reservation over the phone that had to be put on the lead’s credit card. The lead would say something like, “Listen, if I’m going to spend a quarter of a million dollars, I want my lawyer to review this,” and they would say, “Absolutely. So we’re going to courier all the necessary documents to you, but this is an excusive offer and we need to know you’re serious. The only way I can give it to you is with a $5,000 reservation. It’s 100% refundable.”
Going the extra mile
They had about 10% conversion rate at that stage, but of the people that gave the $5,000 reservation fee, they closed with 50%. That means that they were wired a quarter of a million dollars from people that had never met them. There were no models to see, there was no sales office. This was done with three phone calls and they did over $250 million a year. It was all on the phone, and they were successful because of the discovery. They were just so good at getting the information they needed and following up when they said they were going to follow up. They were highly professional and very organized, and that’s why it worked.
It makes a difference, and I know because I “secret shop” projects every week of my life. I visit sales offices, phone call centres and register online, pretending to be a potential customer so I can assess their sales teams. You’d think I’d be getting inundated with phone calls and emails, but nobody follows up. If you just do some of these things that I’m suggesting, you’re going to stand out. If you follow up a sales meeting with a handwritten note and a phone call, they’ll never forget you. It’s about going a step beyond.
Learn more from my book
The Million Dollar Minute: The secrets of how we sold 367 condos in 90 minutes, and how you can too!