The morning pit:
My drive to the office (Resort) was always beautiful; the roads were long, winding and scenic. The roads were lined with mountain edges, wild ferns, Eastern Hemlocks, Shagbark Hickories, White and Red Maple trees. Most mornings, I opened my windows and sunroof of my Honda Accord to have the brisk air hit my face and wake me up a bit more. As I parked in the lot, I would see coworkers/friends walking into the lodge to begin their day. I could hear the thumping base of the music coming from the Tree Tops Lodge pit from the parking lot; it made me feel like I was going into a dance club. This music always made me excited to start my day. BOOM< BOOM<BOOM!!!
Upon entering the lodge, I, like most would always turn right to get a cup of joe and maybe a Danish before I doing anything else. Now, I would quickly get a good seat in the pit. When looking around the room you could tell who had hangovers, who was ready to take on the day and who didn’t make it in; always lots of yawns. Once the last agent was seated in the pit the music would stop. The pit was filled with small tables that fit 4 to 5 people. We had approximately 60-70 agents on our sales line; you can imagine how loud it was! The room had the smell of men’s cologne, women’s perfume and coffee the morning. Training, motivation pep talks, spiffs (bonuses) were an everyday occurrence. Agents were always pumped up!!! Cash was always a great motivator! If you sold something the day before; it guaranteed you a higher spot on the “line” or “wheel”; whichever language the broker wanted to use. It also meant you had a chance at more than one “up” (customer), maybe even 3 that day. During these meetings, you would also see agents who were in slumps, they had the look of desperation and would slink away from the meetings with embarrassment.
The break room:
Once the morning meeting was over, agents drove directly over to the resort break room to await their up. The break room wasn’t very busy; however, as I recall it was the best place to hear the intercom system call your name. Most people were close, so it was like visiting a social club or coffee shop; lots of chatter and laughter! We really had so much fun during our workday.
The break room was behind closed doors; there was one huge one-way mirror from where we could watch the ups (customers). As part of the sales presentation (pitch), we would leave our ups at the table for a few moments during the discovery stage of our pitch or if the conversation became heated; going into the breakroom to watch their body language through the one-sided window. The break room was an oversized, nondescript conference room with large round tables and many coffee pots. As the day went on, poker games began; these were serious games, lots of money on the line. Many people played poker, and there were always the regulars who made their living playing poker in the breakroom. This room smelled of coffee, cigarette smoke, cologne and perfume.
Upon picking up my ups, I would present a bubbly introduction! My first few objectives were to build trust and get my ups excited about traveling! I would sit them down at the small round table on the floor and let them know what their tour would entail. Sometimes this intro would take down their guard; and sometimes it wouldn’t. I was able to build trust with my ups easily by listening and building rapport. Really listening!!! It was on the floor that agents started their discovery stage. This stage was the most important part of the sales process; it’s when you seek as much (ALL) information from your ups as possible in order to understand: their buying habits; decision making habits and processes; their dreams of vacationing; vacation history and approx. costs (what type of hotels, resorts, activities, eating, length of stay); how they budget money towards activities and/or vacations; and who they normally travel with.
Sometimes, no matter what an agent would say or ask, the ups would be irate that they had to go through a tour to get a free gift! They didn’t want to talk; they didn’t want to tour; they just wanted to leave. A sales manager would judge an agent’s sales skills in this case. How well could the agent calm the up down? The stress level would be impossible at times! Under no circumstances could you take “no” for an answer. For some agents, you wouldn’t be able to pay for your rent/mortgage or get groceries if this prick/bitch didn’t listen to you. It was the agent’s job to get the up(s) to talk, to tour, to buy…no matter what!!! SWEAT<SWEAT<SWEAT<!!!!
What I learned through my work at the resort: There were professional ups that already knew what to expect because they have been to the resort for a free gift ten times!!!; Others that have no idea what to expect; Certain cultures had different decision-making processes. Some ups came in groups; usually Asians. You had to make sure, the decision maker was there; usually it was the oldest family member. Certain ethnic groups love to appreciate more time with their families than others and are more likely to buy. After years of touring people, you tend to start profiling ups; you get a handle on just how long a tour will take with your assigned ups. That might mean a ten-minute tour in order to pick up your next up.
The broker provided incredible sales training! This happened on a regular basis. They would pay for on and offsite training. This included sales, real estate, goal setting, time management, body language and anything else that had to do with relationships with customers. The broker also knew how to provide incentives; trips, money, training and other fun bonuses.
The floor was a funny place! Some successful agents would speak softly so other agents wouldn’t steal and then mimic their pitches. Overall the room was really noisy! Lots of excitement in the air. Many nervous, sweaty brows. Just imagine over 60 sales people pitching at the same time. I remember one agent always liked getting his ups to laugh, so he would stand on the table and threaten to jump if they didn’t tell him something he wanted to hear. You could always count on seeing and hearing disgruntled ups blowing up because they didn’t want to tour for a free gift or answer any questions; each agent dealt with this differently. Some could calm their ups down smoothly, others not so much! Some agents would even extend the tour for a few hours to see how long the up would actually hold out for a free gift; they would leave them on the floor and go play poker! LOL
Once I was finished describing the program, it was now time to show my ups around the resort grounds, golf course, tennis courts, spa, all amenities, the villas, and end with the ski lodge and “the pit”. Most of this tour is done by car. Walking the spa, villa and resort was a must. All along the way, I would always measure my ups interest in buying by trial closes them. Talking to them about their vacation history and dreams of future trips makes for a better tour as well.
The back end pit:
Our next stop was to close in the pit. It was my job to know I had a sale before I hit the floor of the pit. I didn’t want it to be uncomfortable taking a contract out of my briefcase. There was so much excitement in the room!!!! When someone purchased their time share, it was announced on the intercom system and everyone clapped. The excitement was contagious. BUY>BUY>BUY!!!
Selling Time Share was an experience of a lifetime. The knowledge and experience I gained was the foundation for my future career success. It taught me how to interview people, to listen and understand people, to understand body language, and to negotiate and close people. It also taught me how to sell gracefully. The business was extremely stressful, most agents didn’t make it!!! I believe the odds were 1 and 2 survived; and those who survived, usually lasted 3 months. I beat the odds and was successful. If I didn’t have a family, I would have stayed in the industry.
NOT ALL TIME SHARES ARE SCAMS!!! I didn’t scam people; I truly enjoyed the program I sold! The exchange program gave my buyers (the ups that became buyers) the ability to travel nationwide, internationally, choosing which resorts they wanted to visit and when. My buyers were very happy. I very often sold them more time.
When buying a time share it’s very important to buy from a broker who belongs to an international exchange program and to also be able to travel whenever you want to. You want to be able to travel to different resorts nationally and internationally. The key is not to be limited; remember that you get what you pay for. Be diligent and make sure you read the fine print. You also want to make sure your time share is deeded so you pass it down to your family. Another item to consider is maintenance fees; make sure there is a cap.