One season ends and another will begin soon.  There was a success, maybe even some records were broken, but how good are you doing and what can you do better?  Are you getting every possible sale out there, or is there room for improvement?  I used to have a developer that loved to say, “Until you close 100%, you can do better.”   We’ve all worked for “that guy”, but it’s true – we can all improve, and probably in several areas.  Here’s a checklist to help determine what you need to focus on before the next season starts:

Your Sales Team 

Are you investing in your sales team?  What kind of training are you providing?  If you want the top performers to continue and your average performers to improve, you better give them the training and motivation they deserve and need.  Many companies today are creating a training department that is fully dedicated to training the sales staff.  Others bring in outside talent or companies that specialize in timeshare training and motivation.  But even if you have to use existing personnel with other responsibilities (sales managers/closers/etc.), the important thing is to provide a training program to the sales team.  And the key to a successful training program is to follow a proven method and make sure that is what is “pitched” and supported by all leadership on the floor.  As they say, “there are many ways to skin a cat”, but if you want to create continuity and consistency then everyone has to sing from the same songbook/training regime.  Pick a program and stick to it.  Insist on everyone in leadership follow it.  Then you will have a standard to compare to and a place to bring those astray back to.  Without a dedicated standard training program to build on, the phrase your team will hear is, “Well, this is how I did it….”

Your Technology

Are you using tablets and computers to demonstrate the highlights and benefits of your vacation program or are your reps still drawing on yellow (legal?) pads?  In today’s high tech, social media, smartphone world, you better be trading the paper in the digital format.  There are so many options I can’t list them all here, but even restaurants and hotel check-ins are using tablets to order or register.  Some timeshare companies are simply putting their existing materials in digital format while those “in the know” are capturing their tour invite on a tablet and transferring that data directly to the computer-generated sales presentation and when there is a sale, the data passes directly through to contract processing.  Before you say, “That’s a luxury we can’t afford”, consider this:  A.) The pass-through system described above completely eliminates the use of paper and keeps the data accurate and protected – the bigger the paper trail the greater the risk of stolen data and mistakes happen when reentering the same data over and over.  B.) An OPC using a tablet to show gift options will have a lower no-show rate and higher efficiency in sales, plus they will increase their average gift/deposit. C.) Sales reps following a computer sales presentation will stay on track better and assure a more accurate description of benefits and services.  Some systems even allow you to watch the reps progress “live” to assess their needs and assign the right closer to the table.  If there is ever a discrepancy on what was explained during the presentation there is a history that can show how much time was spent explaining that specific benefit or policy, helping lower complaints, rescissions, and cancelations.  D.) And having that data transfer directly to contract processing saves time and lowers frustration for new purchasers.  Typos and re-writes are virtually eliminated.

In addition, using big screen TVs/monitors around the sales center to demonstrate the bigger points in the presentation or reiterate critical benefits and services gives a modern feel to the tour.  And using a tablet as a take-home kit can add huge credibility to your product.  A few years ago the belief was having the technology lent to more developer credibility.  Today it’s the opposite – not having the technology hurts your credibility.  Virtually every consumer has a smartphone and/or a tablet with them.  The real question is, “Can you afford not to?”

Your Product Benefits

Has your product evolved over the last few years or are you selling the same concept, benefits, and services you always have?  A good base product, whether it’s fixed weeks or points, is very important.  But today’s timeshare consumer wants more.  They’ve seen the other products out there and they’ve heard about what others are doing.  Are you listening?  Today we can add a variety of different benefits that make our product more alluring and frankly, more valuable.  Many consider a travel club to be the “scourge” of our industry, but when you add one to an existing timeshare product it becomes a serious upgrade for your members.  Or add benefits that are already part of your property like golf or marina.  Either offer substantial discounts or include limited access/use as part of your membership.  Some companies are using All Inclusive, entertainment or airfare benefits recognizing that every potential member uses or needs these concepts.  Or simply creating a VIP Level of service can be enough to create new sales or bring existing members back for more.  Your customers are evolving.  Don’t get left behind.

Your Retention

A way to improve the bottom line without creating additional tours or sales is to improve your retention.  Almost every city/state/country has a legally provided “cooling off” or rescission period.  And consequently, everyone loses sales here and there.  The average rescission rate is over 20 percent in our industry.  That means at least one out of every five sales cancels.  If you can lower that rate to 10 percent or 5 percent, the savings, or increase in net sales can be dramatic.

One of the biggest reasons people cancel is because of “buyer’s remorse”, caused when someone buys something unexpected or unplanned.  A simple way to overcome buyer’s remorse is to “babysit” the new member for a period of time after the sale.  But using salespeople simply doesn’t work.  For reasons I can’t explain, they are more likely to abandon the new member than babysit them.  Some companies are creating an Anti-Rescission Team, but if cost is an issue you can use existing personnel like VLO’s or Sales Managers that were not directly involved in the sale.  The concept is that after the button-up is complete, a new “face” introduces their self as the “New Member Team”.  They explain that they will be their personal contact for all questions and needs the new member may have.  They give a direct line contact number/email address and then they follow up periodically for a set period of time, usually until the first payment is made on time.  And during the rescission period, they are especially attentive to the new member, staying in touch and attempting to ¨catch¨ a cancellation in the process, before the letter is written.  The odds of saving that sale are exponentially higher if you can speak to them before they write the letter.  And good service is a great way to get a happy member using the program, creating a higher sense of value for them from the start.

Your Success

Preparation is part of the foundation of success.  Invest in your team and your product to increase sales or continue the success you are currently having.  Our industry is changing and we must prepare to stay current if we want to reach the ultimate (developers) goal – to close 100 percent of the tours.