I bet that when you saw the title you answered: “How not to sell legal services.” That is a natural response. Most of you feel like hard selling is distasteful? I do believe you can learn some good and bad from timeshare sales. So let me share what you can learn from my last experience.
In January I sat through two timeshare presentations in Cabo. One was for interval ownership including a golf membership at one of the highest rated new golf courses in the world. We played the course and it was fabulous and the service was unmatched. If I was rich and famous (and younger) I would have been very interested.
Sitting through the presentations caused me to wonder what lawyers would be like if they were required to sell timeshares for 6 months on a commission only basis. If you did it do you think you would be better at selling your legal services? After all, there is no more direct, in your face, hard selling than timeshare selling.
I think you can learn some good ideas and bad approaches from these presentations. First, the timeshare typically qualifies the purchaser making sure they can afford to buy. That makes sense for lawyers also. Obviously if your potential client cannot afford your rates, you will have a problem.
Second, the timeshare company gives potential purchasers something for taking their time. Sometimes this may include staying at the facility. I believe you should give away presentations and workshops on specific legal subjects.
Third, in these presentations the sales staff does fairly well asking questions. They typically ask:
- How often do you vacation?
- What are you looking for in a vacation?
- Why is that important to you?
I think you should ask prospective clients similar questions.
After asking the questions, the salesman might say: “If I was able to show you that we can offer (whatever you said was important), what would it take to get your business? When the one salesman asked that question, Nancy replied: “It would have to be for free.”
One of the timeshare/interval ownership sales techniques I do not like is when they start big and work back to something you might accept. Our one salesman told us we could buy this beautiful two bedroom condo for four weeks including the golf membership for lots of money.
When we didn’t bite on that one, he got his manager who told us that today only we could buy one week for 1/4 of the lots of money. He made a big deal of the fact that our children could also have the golf membership (he didn’t know our daughter and son-in-law are both teachers, cannot afford the maintenance fees and are not enamored with playing golf).
When we didn’t bite on the one week deal, we learned we could reduce the price by trading in the timeshares we own. Supposedly the developer gives them to charity and gets the tax deduction. During this phase the sales manager kind of put down what we already owned. I think putting down the law firm your prospective client has used is a bad strategy.
The next approach was to suggest we buy the two bedroom unit with our friends. That way it would only be half as much as the last offer. I think his strategy was to get one of the couples to pop, so the other would feel obligated to go along. I confess the amount of investment was getting close to something I would consider. Thankfully my friend did not pop.
As we were getting up to leave, the sales manager offered a one year deal where we could come back spend a week and we would have four rounds of golf. The price was so good that we both said yes, only to learn that it wasn’t four rounds of golf per person, but rather one round for the four of us. So we respectfully declined.
The salesman ended the pitch by telling us we would never get the chance to play this fabulous golf course again. We plan to test his statement when we are back in the area next January.
What are the learning points?
- Make sure you are going after clients who can afford you.
- Give away a presentation or workshop on a legal topic your clients and prospective clients would value.
- It is important to ask good questions?
- Do not put down the law firm your client is using now.
- Don’t keep reducing your fees to get your foot in the door.
- Don’t tell your potential client it is his last chance to hire you.