Every year I get at least three calls (or emails, or snail mail pieces) offering me a chance to stay at some fabulous resort in Hawaii, Mexico, or some other tropical paradise.

The catch? I'll need to attend a short timeshare presentation--a 90-120 minute tour of a vacation property to sell me on timeshare ownership for that resort and its amenities.

As innocent as they sound, the chances of walking away with a signed contract are surprisingly high. So often, I've heard people say, "I just don't know what happened. We went in saying, 'No matter what, we are not going to buy a timeshare,' and left with a one bedroom, one week a year in Cabo."

So when I recently met timeshare expert Jason Milton at a conference, I had to pick his brain for the sales tips us mere mortals should steal. Milton has led three Fortune 500 timeshare projects to record sales, selling over $200 million in total.

Here's what he had to say.

Talk to the modern part of the brain.

There are three parts to the human brain:

  1. The reptilian, fight or flight.
  2. The analytical.
  3. The emotional.

The problem is that we can't be in two parts of the brain at the same time. Milton says that almost every negotiation or sale starts out in the reptilian fight-or-flight center of the brain.

The goal is to shift your client from this reactive state into the analytical and, ultimately, the emotional part of their brain. To accomplish this, you need to create a warm-up with your prospect by discovering four pieces of information:

  1. The emotional driver or dominate buying motive.
  2. A problem they have (present or future) related to what you are offering.
  3. Their commitment to being able to use your product or service.
  4. Objections toward your product or service.

Items 2, 3, and 4 are often relatively easy to figure out by asking core questions, and simply listening to what the client has to say. However, according to Milton, finding the dominate emotional driver is challenging--and important.

Identify your buyer's emotional drivers.

Milton says there are six key emotions that drive every buying decision. "All decisions are really emotion based," he says. "Regardless if people are buying insurance, computers, or cars, they decide based on emotion, then back it by logic."

For example, a client doesn't really want a home alarm system or insurance policy in and of itself. What they do want is the certainty that security provides. Someone doesn't really want a $50,000 watch to tell the time, but rather the feeling of importance or significance it provides them with.

Great salespeople are able to determine which of the six key emotional drivers are of greatest importance for their clients, and then match their product or service to that. They are:

  1. Significance or importance.
  2. Certainty and security.
  3. Love and connection.
  4. Education or improvement.
  5. Variety.
  6. Leaving a legacy or lasting memory.

Ask three types of questions.

Getting the answers to the above requires making the prospect feel comfortable. Milton suggests using three levels of questions to move the person from the reptilian, to the analytical, and finally to the emotional brain with ease.

  1. First-level questions include "Who?" "What?" "When?" "Where?" and "How?" and are all about finding questions.
  2. Second-level questions are "Why?" and "Tell me more." This shifts the person in front of you into the analytical part of their brain.
  3. Third-level questions are "How do you feel about..." or "How does/did that make you feel?" These feeling questions are vital to accessing the emotional brain, and they are often the most difficult questions to ask.

Once you know what the person is really trying to attain, you're ready to ask for the order. Present your product or service based on what it will give the client emotionally. If the client comes back at you with logic, remind them again of their emotional driver and the problem you are solving.

After speaking with Milton, I decided to use his ideas more consciously in my next few prospective client calls.

The results? I found that by distinguishing between the three types of questions I was able to move the conversations forward, faster. Interestingly, whenever I asked a well thought out "why" question, most people responded by saying "that's a great question."

I discovered for myself the best way to help them--and was more able to guide them towards the best choice to meet their needs.

Sometimes, you will be the perfect answer; other times you won't. But doesn't it make your emotional brain happy to know you've brought certainty, education, and maybe even a little love into that person's day?