Product Launch Lessons from a Timeshare Presentation

Recently Deb and I took a vacation to Orlando to enjoy one of our favorite adult playgrounds. The catalyst for the trip was the opportunity to stay 3 nights for free at a high-end Hilton Resort. But there was only one catch. You guessed it…we had to endure a timeshare presentation.

We’ve been through those before and found them stressful situations. So much so that we swore we’d never attend another one no matter how sweet the ‘free stay’ offer was. Never say never! We’re Veterans, right? And, we’ve conquered the best temptations that the $1,997 Internet marketers had to offer. We could do this.

So, off we went to Orlando….and  Hilton Grand Vacations. We decided to get the presentation out of the way the first day, so we could use the remaining time to relax. As it turned out, it was gray and rainy that first day. We actually had such a great time in that 2 hour scheduled presentation, that it turned into 5 hours. By the time we were done, all the employees except our 3rd ‘Closer’ had left for the day. But we were having a blast…picking up lots of lessons to share with you for promoting any product or service.

First, let’s look at the process!

So, why did we stay? We quickly realized that we weren’t going to be tied down and tortured until we bought. In fact, the sales process had advanced significantly since I had sat through my last one. In fact, it became apparent that I was learning some lessons that I could apply to future product launches with my consulting clients.

Before arriving, Deb and I were assigned a personal concierge, who asked us what we liked to do in the area. She then proceeded to pull brochures and discount tickets, which she presented to us when we arrived.

Our first sales person for our 1 on 1 session was very friendly and non-threatening. She indicated, right up front, that we weren’t going to be pressured…but instead given a lot of information which would help us make our decision. In the course of this segment, she qualified us (finding what we wanted in a vacation), and then told us all about Hilton’s program…taking great care to frame the benefits around our needs.

Then, off we went to see a film on the 54 properties that we were able to interchange. Upon our return, salesperson #2 was sitting with our friendly sales person. He was ready for us. Having reviewed our needs while we were gone, he tried to close us by showing how we’d actually be saving money on our travel if we purchased their program. And because we had confessed that we couldn’t imagine staying in one resort the same week each year, he presented the variations in the program that did meet our travel style.

It was hard to say “No” but we wanted to stick to our guns. Even when salesperson #2 upped the ante by offering us double the points, basically giving us more vacation options. We were on a mission not to succumb. At that point, we were proud of ourselves when he relented and went to get the administrator to handle the release paperwork.

Enter salesperson #3…a lion in sheep’s closing. Sure, he had paperwork in his hand, but it was an offer for 7 days at a free top-end Hilton vacation resort Hawaii,  Bonus points, and keeping their best offer on the table for 18 months at current pricing, all for paying $1700 now. But this was an offer that would go away the second we walked out the door.

We didn’t close on the deal. I’d like to say it’s because Deb and I are seasoned Internet people, knowing that the deal of the century comes every 2 weeks. Or that we knew that, if we really wanted to buy, we’d probably be better off dealing directly with their corporate sales staff, on our terms, or negotiating for a resale from numerous agencies…once we became clearer on what we wanted ourselves.

But the reality is the person who could take our money was gone for the day…and by the next morning, without the emotional buzz, we had come to our senses.

‘Product Sales’ Lessons Learned

Selling of Timeshares has been around much longer than the Internet, and the process has been refined over the years. What are the lessons from this experience that you can use as you design a campaign to market your products and services…regardless of whether it’s a one-time launch or an evergreen product promotion?

1) The Psychology of the sales process
First, remember that a good sales sequence doesn’t just happen.  In the example, we see evidence of 3 different sales people. We also see specific actions designed to put the prospect at ease and to keep their guard down, qualifying to tailor the presentation, and more. It is all by design.

2) Make the transaction stress-free for the prospect
Things have evolved to the point where it is better to sell by building an emotional…and logical…pathway to the sale rather than brow-beating your prospect and then counting on a low refund rate.

3) Establish rapport with your prospect before you start selling
In our case, we had the personal concierge and friendly 1st step salesperson. Online, it’s all about providing good content to your List so that when you do start selling, they want to hear what you have to say.

4) The more you know your prospect’s needs, the more likely you’ll make the sale
Nothing can replace market research. You’ll most likely have several different reasons your prospects would buy, and you must appeal to all of them. It’s no wonder that facebook advertising is so effective, as it allows you to market to the specific needs of prospects…which they have identified themselves in their profiles.

5) Don’t bog down the sales process with too much information. Use other media to assist
In the recent 3XSocial Launch I ran for Don Crowther, we used a “sideways sales letter” approach. We covered via video and reports the questions we knew our prospects would  have…prior to the cart opening, so that we could focus on the essentials in our sales letter. In this example the movie we watched was designed to do this.

6) Make the Bonuses directly relevant to the main product and participant
In the example, the main product was use of any of Hilton’s 54 resorts on a flexible time schedule. The Bonuses were premium RCI network property exchange status (thousands of resorts from which to choose) and the ability to book resorts inexpensively in the last 30 days…even if you had used up your points for the year.

These Bonuses were directly relevant to our specific needs. In fact, they became more attractive than the underlying offer. That’s great Bonus design.

7) You must have a downsell…and it must be structured properly.
We had made the decision to ‘not buy’! But then salesperson #3 came back with an offer that let us try the product at little cost and risk. Remember that a small percentage of people visiting your salespage will actually purchase. Can you find ways to increase that percentage…by giving them a taste of the product with little risk? For example, you might offer to try the first module for a low cost, with the price applied to the bigger purchase if they later upgrade.
Remember, we don’t have to create our marketing processes by trial and error. There are numerous models out there just waiting to be borrowed.






And no…we did not buy a timeshare!

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