The days of the dodgy salesmen and con artist are definitely numbered as the rules of the game have been completely flipped on their head. In this constantly connected world, consumers are now in the power position when it comes to most, if not all sales transactions.
This can be seen everywhere you look. For example increasingly when people go out shopping in a physical store, they will compare the price displayed with prices across the internet simply by checking on their phone. They will then decide based on this whether it is worth buying the product in store or instead buying it online if it’s cheaper and waiting a short time. They can easily see if the supposed special offer prices displayed in the shop really are that special. It doesn’t matter if the store’s salesperson is telling the customer what an amazing deal it is and that they have to buy today in case the offer disappears. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy and can see through these pushy sales tactics, and in some cases misleading statements.
The digital revolution that has taken place in the last decade or so is not the only reason for this dramatic shift in consumer perception, but it has definitely played a major part. Before the widespread use of the internet, smartphones, social media and review sites, consumers were more at the mercy of pressure, half truths and lies imposed on them by salespeople. They also had to put up with outbound sales tactics which disrupt people’s lives but which are still seen as almost a necessary evil by many companies and sales teams. These include leaflets and flyers, cold calling, telemarketing, radio, print and TV ads and sales people on the street.
Increasingly consumers can avoid all of these impositions on their lives due to changes in technology such as being able to read news online with ad blockers, listening to music on streaming services or youtube and skipping adverts, watching TV on Netflix or other on demand services which don’t have ads, setting up call blockers to block unknown or annoying numbers and a whole host of other options. In a similar way that consumers can check prices of items they see against those online, they can also easily view what others think of a product, resort, restaurant or anything else they are thinking of purchasing through a variety of review sites such as TripAdvisor or across social media. It is now much more difficult for brands to influence or mislead consumers, so they must adapt.
What your resort marketing and sales team need to understand is that the days in which they could pressure people into making an on the spot purchase are well and truly over, because of the aforementioned reasons.This is not to say that all timeshare was mis-sold and of course the majority of owners love the concept and experience of timeshare and wouldn’t holiday any other way. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case for everybody though and this has given timeshare a bad reputation in the eyes of many.
The problem in many sales related businesses, not just timeshare, has been the desire to put profits above all else. This has therefore meant that a huge amount of pressure is often put on salespeople to meet often unreachable targets from their managers who in turn have pressure from those above them. Of course every business is aiming to be profitable, but profits should not be put above ethics because in the long term this will hurt your business. In the age of social media and an ever more connected consumer, any controversy surrounding the ethical practices of your business can severely affect its reputation and ultimately profits. One recent example of this was when it was revealed that Starbucks Coffee company had not been paying taxes in the UK. This lead to a massive boycott of the brand which put a severe dent on their profits and an embarrassing reversal in tax strategy for the company. To many people in the UK, Starbucks is now associated with tax dodging which lost the brand a lot of loyalty.
Even though timeshare has changed a lot in the way it is marketed and sold to people in recent years, it cannot afford to try and hide anything or continue with any pressure tactics. Timeshare is not an exception; all businesses need to rapidly adapt to the massive changes in digital technology and consumer spending preferences or risk becoming completely obsolete.The travel and tourism industry is one of the most lucrative markets in the world, but there is also a huge variety of competition. Today’s travellers love to make decisions for themselves and tailor their holidays to their own preference. This can be seen in the rise of sites such as AirBnb and Skyscanner and the fall in the number of travel agents in town centres.
While Timeshare has had its problems with the way it was sold in the past, it is still a very profitable business and has a loyal fanbase. Resorts, their marketing teams and sales teams need to concentrate on connecting with their owners throughout their stay in a positive way either in person or via social media. This will involve all members of the sales and marketing teams having social media profiles on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook in order for guests to be able to connect with them. These should be easily discoverable on the resort website’s“About Us” section which is always one of the most viewed sections of a business website. When guests or prospective guests can see that they can connect easily with team members from the resort, this creates an excellent level of transparency and displays to people that the resort has nothing to hide. In turn this creates a much greater level of trust and increases the likelihood of people wanting to stay at your timeshare hotel or resort.
Ethical selling and social media skills need to be taught to all new sales staff with ongoing training while they work at your resort. It cannot be assumed that just because someone was a top sales person at another resort or within another organisation that they had the relevant training necessary to succeed straight away in your team. As mentioned earlier they may have worked for a company that put unnecessary pressure on their staff leading to unethical selling tactics being used. Of course, also with the digital transformation that has occurred and changes in customer preferences and buying habits there are a variety of new skills that will need to be learnt by all members of your team, not just new members.
What needs to instilled in your team is the idea that social media is not just something that people do in their spare time when they are bored but an integral part of daily life. It is an amazing way to connect with your resort guests, help to promote the experiences that can be had at the resort and help to show the positive side of timeshare. Rather than wasting money on annoying forms of outbound advertising, by showing that your resort listens and engages in the conversation surrounding the brand on social media, your guests will become your biggest advocates online. If time and energy is invested in social media and the resort is presented in an ethical and transparent way, then it becomes a highly cost effective method of promotion. By sharing positive stories from your guests this also gives a much more trustworthy representation of your resort which will attract more people to come and stay.
Steve Clark, a professional international speaker and serial entrepreneur, helps to train and teach audiences around the world on the subjects of sales, marketing and customer service. He is a strong believer and advocate of ethical selling and helping to businesses to embrace positive and lasting change. He has been involved in helping timeshare resort teams to make changes in their sales approaches through RDO and recently spent time in Gran Canaria working with the sales teams at Anfi. Read about his time at Anfi here.
To find out more about Steve, including how your organisation can book him for inspirational sales speeches, or staff training, visit his website: http://www.eurekaselling.co.uk/
He is also very active on social media so make sure to follow along for inspirational posts:
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