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Enjoy this small sample of the chapter “Discovery” from the book “The Magic of Asking Questions.”


Discovery is about asking questions and getting answers. If people like you, and you ask the right questions, they’ll provide you with valuable information about what’s important to them. After we’ve broken the ice and gotten comfortable with each other, I need to ask questions that will force them to begin thinking about how ownership would benefit their family in the future. By asking questions that are specific to timeshare I start to slowly open their minds to ownership.

My meticulously word-smithed high-gain questions allow me to illicit crucial information in a short amount of time. I know that the quality of the questions I ask dictates the quality of answers I receive.

Many salespeople ask questions that are poorly worded and provide minimal quality information:

“Have you folks ever been on a timeshare presentation before?”

That question invites only a yes or no answer, which yields very little useful information and does very little to get them involved.

I would structure the question like this:

“May I ask, how many presentations have you folks attended in the past?”

They may tell me they’ve never been on one or they went on one 15 years ago, or whatever. The reality is that they can’t give a yes or no answer to that question. In order to build on their answer, I’ll ask second and third level follow up questions.

“What do you remember most about vacation ownership from the previous presentations you’ve attended?”

“Based on what you learned there, what do you think vacation ownership is?”

They might say something like this:

“Well, I think you buy a place here and you can come here once or twice a year and if you don’t come here, you can trade it to go someplace else.”

When they finish I’ll say:

“That’s exactly right, that’s as simple as it is. Gosh, you almost know enough to work here.”

I compliment them on whatever answer they give. I want them to feel comfortable and confident about their answers, and I don’t judge or criticize their responses in any way.

If they tell me they’ve never been on a presentation before, I know that I’ll have to go through the whole program from A to Z. If they have attended other presentations, I never assume that the sales executive communicated effectively about how ownership works or what it would do for them. I also never assume that the other salesperson had a good relationship with them or helped them get in touch with their emotions.

Remember, if they aren’t involved, it’s highly unlikely they’re going to purchase. Detachment is their defense against involvement. They probably got away with this approach in the past because the salesperson they were with let them get away with it. There’s a good chance that some old school, tell-selling agent “talked at them” the entire tour while trying to maneuver them into purchasing. That agent probably spent the whole time they were together pitching the product instead of asking well-thought-out questions aimed at guiding them into selling them-selves on ownership. The customers probably just sat there daydreaming and nodding their heads up and down as he continued to talk away.

If the salesperson had asked the right questions, they would have become more emotionally involved, and if they are emotionally involved, the chances of them purchasing increases significantly.

It’s important for me to remember that just because my people have been on other presentations and didn’t purchase, it doesn’t mean they won’t purchase from me. We’ve all heard our sales managers say this a million times before:

In most cases it’s not a matter of if they’ll ever purchase but rather when they’ll purchase.

I’m not a tell-seller. A tell-seller would just tell them why people become involved with vacation ownership. I’m not there to tell them why most people buy a timeshare. My objective is to get them to think and participate. Instead of me telling them why people become involved with ownership, I get them to tell me why they think people purchase and what they think vacation ownership is.

I would never make statements like this:

“Most people buy this to save money.”

“Most people buy this to trade to other places.”

“Most people buy this to come back here every year.”

“Most people buy this to pass it on to the kids.”

Quite the opposite—my secret is I don’t tell them why most people become involved, what most people do with their ownership, or what’s important to most people.

Instead, I personalize it to them. Here’s how I would ask a question that would engage them:

“May I ask, how many presentations have you attended in the past?”

That question can’t be answered with a yes or no answer.

“Which resort did you visit?”

“How was the experience?”

“What do you remember most about vacation ownership from the previous presentations you’ve attended?”

“Based on what you learned there, what do you think vacation ownership is?”


“What appealed to you the most about ownership from what you learned there?

“Was there anything you didn’t like?”

“Did you purchase at that resort?”


If no:

“Why not?”

If they say they couldn’t afford it I’ll ask them:

“How much was too much?”

When they tell me, I’ll laughingly ask them;

“Has anything changed since then?”

The answer they give to that question is critical. If they couldn’t afford it, I want to know how much was too much. This will help me later in the presentation when I make my recommendation regarding which ownership option best suits their needs. I don’t want to get them sold on what they can’t afford. I always keep their budget in mind as I proceed.

If it wasn’t the money, they may say:

“We didn’t buy there because we didn’t like the property.”


“We didn’t like the salesman. He didn’t listen to us, he was really high pressure and he was way too pushy.”


“He tried to force us to make us buy at the end of the presentation. That’s not how we do things. We don’t like that kind of pressure.”

“If you were to purchase a timeshare, what would be the most important things to you?”

“What would you look for in an ownership program?”

“Based on what you know, why do you think anyone would ever purchase one of these?”

“Why do you think anyone would ever become involved with something like this?”


“Why do you think anyone would want this in their life?”

I really like this one:

“Why do you think millions of people before you have bought this and continue to buy it every day?”

In order to keep them focused on ownership and what it does for families I’ll ask:

“How do you think most people use their timeshare?”

By asking the right questions, I get them to tell me why they think people become owners. As they answer these questions, what are they doing? They’re subconsciously validating the merits of vacation ownership to themselves.

As they relate past experiences, they’re telling me valuable information that I can use as I help them move closer to a purchase.

If I’m with a non-owner, I might ask this question.

“If you were to ever purchase a timeshare, what would be the five most important things to you?”

People who have attended other presentations can usually answer that question better than first timers.

If they can’t come up with an answer I’ll go ahead and help them out. If they couldn’t think of anything, at least they were trying and by doing so, they were becoming more involved with thoughts about ownership.

“In order to help you out, I’ve prepared a list of some of the most important things people like about vacation ownership.”

Then I hand them the list along with a fluorescent hi-lighter and say:

“I’d like to invite the two of you to take a minute and look at this list and I want you to hi-light the five most important things to you, if you were ever to purchase into a vacation ownership program.”

On my list, I have about eighteen categories numbered and listed that most people feel are key elements of ownership. The page would look like this:

“If you were to ever purchase into a vacation ownership program, what would be the five most important things to you?”
1) Location
2) Trading power
3) Flexibility
4) Brand name identity
5) Pass on to the kids
6) Save money on future vacations
7) Establish a vacation retirement plan
8) Deed and title
9) Quality
10 Cost
11) Amenities
12) Activities
13) Security
14) Safety
15) Restaurants
16) Full kitchens
17) Rental
18) Resale

All of these things are important to people in one way or another. The key is to get them to start thinking about what the most important things would be to them if they were to ever purchase into ownership.

As they make their choices, they’re telling me loud and clear what their hot buttons are. All I have to do is make sure that I elaborate on all of these categories and stress how ownership at my resort, or in my program, best satisfies all of their priorities.

I’ve learned that everyone has different hot buttons, so I never assume to know what their choices will be. I’m often very surprised at the things they select.

Some very interesting things happen when they start looking at that list. All of a sudden they get really involved in the process. I’ve had couples mark five things and then look up and ask:

“Gee, we’ve already marked five things, is it OK if we mark a couple more?”

Do you think this shows they’re getting involved? Some couples work closely together on their answers and they talk to each other about their choices before they mark them. Sometimes there’s a dominant partner who will grab the highlighter and mark all the answers without even asking for their spouse’s opinion. By observing their interaction, I can tell if they’re respectful of each other or if one is the boss and a driver.

I’ll ask them:

“Would you mind telling me why the categories you’ve chosen are important to you?”

It’s crucial for me to ask that question because I want them to validate to themselves the importance of each category they have identified. After reviewing their choices, I know exactly where to focus my efforts and I make sure to elaborate on each and every one they have marked.

“Based on what you’ve seen here, how would ownership change the way your family would vacation in the future?”


“If you were to purchase timeshare how would it change the way your family vacationed in the future?”

“You said you go on vacation somewhere every year and rent but haven’t purchased into an ownership program yet. As you look back, has that decision ended up costing your family in the long run?”

Again, if I spend ninety minutes telling them why other people buy and how most people use it, I’ve done nothing to find out what’s important to them, nor have I done anything to get them involved. All I’ve done is talk at them. I’ll also wear myself out for my next tour if I’m doing all the work while their heads are just nodding up and down.

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