"THE CLOSER" or How I Learned How NOT to Sell Homes

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President

There are lots of books, seminars, websites, and other programs that will claim to teach you how to sell.  Some of them are good.  Some of them are great.  Some... well, not so much.  However, nothing is better than the live application of watching a master salesman in practice.  There are people out there in the world who can sell the proverbial "Ice to an Eskimo."

Cancun Mexico


Recently on my vacation to Cancun, Mexico, I learned how NOT to sell homes.  It was an important lesson and one worth sharing.  The education came courtesy of the Mexican timeshare salespeople.


Have you ever been to one of those 90 minute timeshare presentations?  You know, the ones were they tour you around the resort, show you a sample unit, and then try the hard sales approach to get you to buy while you watch the clock so you can collect your complimentary gift.  If you ever plan to purchase or sell real estate either for yourself or on behalf of clients, it's worth going to see how it's done.  Or you can just read about my experience here.



Pre-QualifyIf you want to ensure that you don't make the sale, never pre-qualify your buyers. 

We were blindsided at the Cancun airport by a friendly timeshare marketing guy.  I was ready to leave but my wife wanted to listen to their pitch since the fellow was so friendly.  He started by giving us some valuable tourist information and details about various things to see while on vacation.  Asked some questions, feigned interest in our life (where are you from?  how long are you staying?  have you ever been in Cancun before?)

Then he "invited" us to a "free breakfast" and a refund on our airport to hotel transportation if we attended a 90 minute timeshare presentation.  And at the end of the 90 minute presentation, we'd get our choice of a tourist excursion valued at close to $300.  Sounds like a good deal (in fact it was -- the excursion, not the timeshare).

The only requirements were that we were over the age of 30, married, and had credit cards.  No income verification, no proven ability to afford a timeshare, no employment requirement, no credit check, nothing.  He didn't even ask if we were interested in purchasing a timeshare property!

The following day when we went for the presentation, the sales guy there asked a few more questions, but certainly did not pre-qualify us -- just made us flash our credit cards and asked us about our careers.


Build RapportPeople want to buy from people that they like.  Thus, if you want to lose the sale, don't worry about building rapport.

Flash a smile, feign interest, interrupt conversation, and stick to a script.  This is the sure way to flub it.  Relationships take time.  90 minutes is usually not enough.  Check out the case of the Cancun timeshare.

We were promised a 90 minute sales presentation after breakfast.  Little did we know that the timeshare sales guy would sit with us at breakfast and watch us eat (he had a cup of coffee while we made several trips to the buffet).  Talk about uncomfortable.  Then he started going down his survey sheet, asking us several questions about ourselves -- our interests, our dreams, etc.  However, he didn't really seem to care.  More of a smile, an "um hum," etc. rather than spirited rapport-building conversation.

After a 60 minute tour around the timeshare resort, our guide who was presumably in his mind building rapport with us, told us that we were going to meet with "THE CLOSER"  Dun Dun Dah.  Why in heaven's name would he spend 60 minutes with us only to pass us off to purchase from an unknown to us slick salesman?

This was Step 2 to doing it all wrong.  Let alone actually calling the other salesman "THE CLOSER" -- that's still got me laughing today!



Gotta get through the script.  Make sure to overload people with too much information so that they are overwhelmed.  Use lots of fancy words and sales jargon.  Throw out tons of numbers without much explanation.  Put words in the buyer's mouth.  Use leading questions to get the answers you want.

Yep, that's gonna work!

Wouldn't you have loved to have been a fly on the wall in Cancun?  Or better yet, relaxing on the beautiful beach eavesdropping over the conversation?


Real estate purchases are big decisions involving lots of money.  There's no reason to allow couples any time alone to discuss the purchase.  Stay in their face.  Watch their every move for a buying sign.

When it got to discussing price, we found out that the Cancun timeshare would be anywhere between a $40,000 to a $90,000 investment.  Besides the fact that we were in Mexico for a vacation, not to purchase property, this was a large amount of money that they were asking us to spend.  Maybe they thought we'd had a few early morning margaritas and would be loose with our credit cards!

They never once told us to take 5 minutes or more and discuss it in private amongst ourselves.


High Pressure SalesYes or no?  Yes or no?  What's your decision?  We need to know today.  Right now.  Tell us.  Say it.  SAY IT!  BUY IT!  C'MON.  Pressure a decision.  Make it sound desperate.  We're selling out.  You need to act now.  That's guaranteed to drive people away.

Believe it or not, but that's what the Mexican timeshare folks did. 

At the end of 90 minutes, my wife spoke up and said "Our 90 minutes is up.  Thanks for the education.  We're not interested.  No Gracias!"

The rude timeshare salesman, "THE CLOSER" said "I'm not here to educate you.  I'm here to sell you something.  I'm not a teacher.  I'm a salesperson." 


Well, not that day he wasn't. 


He didn't sell us anything.


Five Things you should know if you work with me as your REALTOR:

1.  You will be pre-qualified.  I want you to know how much home you can afford.  I want you to buy for the right reasons and want to understand your motivations, so that I can help guide you towards the right purchase.

2.  We will build rapport.  A real relationship.  I care about my clients.  I want you to know about me.  Many of my clients over the years have become my friends.  In fact, I just had dinner earlier this week with a couple I worked with a few years ago.

3. I will take time and explain things to you.  Whether you are a first-time buyer or have experience, I want to make sure that you understand everything in plain English.

4.  You can take the time to weigh the facts, and discuss the the purchase amongst yourselves, with your friends, your family, or anybody else you choose.

5.  I will NEVER pressure a decision.

"THE CLOSER" admitted to me that he sells a timeshare to about 1 out of 10 or 12 people with whom he meets.  That's not a very high closing ratio. 

Maybe "THE CLOSER" needs to remove the letter "C" from his title!


Carlos G

Wow! I can see you guys have been victims of the "mexican closer" lol.

There is nothing more funny than make a "closer" mad...oh yeah!

Next time you guys are invited to a "FREE" presentation, never bring an ID or credit card with you; much less cash! Never say yes to anything, and never say you are merried. never say you have savings. In other words, don't pretend to be rich or show off the gold...

Good job awering our audience.


Carlos G.

Jul 16, 2009 01:58 PM
Todd & Devona Garrigus
Garrigus Real Estate - Beaumont, CA
Broker / REALTORS®

Prequaling is my religion!


Thanks for the post!

Jul 16, 2009 04:07 PM
R.E. Renée Hoover, Salesperson
Century 21 Geba Realty, Milford, PA; Licensed in PA & NYS - Milford, PA
Poconos, Pike, Wayne, Monroe Counties, PA; PA/NYS

Not to be confused with the book The Closers by Ben Gay which actually has some good advice on how to ask the closing questions.  I think for the most part people who show up for the Freebies at these timeshare events, and others, know what they are getting into ahead of time.  Unfortunately these types of sale techniques put a blight on the sales industry reputation as a whole when there are so many great agents, such as yourself, who are professional and dedicated.  Great blog!

Jul 16, 2009 07:58 PM
Tom McCombs, Charles Real Estate, Akron, Ohio

Those timeshare salesman/puppets are trained to do exactly what they are doing. The timeshare developers spend up to 40% of the price of the TS unit on sales, including the come-ons, free gifts and commissions. So they do what it is that brings them the best return on their money. This is not the same kind of sales that Realtors practice, and comparing the two will not be instructive or productive.

In the event that you should find that a TS unit is interesting to you, go on the internet anywhere -- e-Bay, for example -- and you may find that that same TS unit is available on the resale market for as little as 5% of the developer's price. People sell them because they find that they do not want to be responsible for those annual maintenance fees, and they find that trading is not as easy as they were led to believe. There are steep additional fees that must be paid to get into the trading system.

Having said that, however, you just can not beat the facilities and amenities that come with many TS units. If you can use them, they can be a terrific bargain.

Jul 17, 2009 12:04 AM
Anja Kerstens, 669.270.8034
Compass - Morgan Hill, CA
GRI, NHCB, CDPE, CHS. Silicon Valley Homes

Haha, that was a great read.  

We have been there and done that too.  No in Mexico but the USA.  

Jul 17, 2009 03:18 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

You guys should have just relaxed at the beach with your feet up!  I refuse to listen to those 'salespeople?' when I go there.

Jul 17, 2009 04:10 AM
Gerry Khatchikian
Red Lodge, MT


Thank you for sharing this story with us.  Great tips!  I love how you told the story and how you related it to selling real estate.  I enjoyed this post and the humor (especially the funny ending).

Gerry's AR signature

Jul 17, 2009 04:31 AM
Michelle Glen, Tim O'Brien Homes - Waukesha, WI

Very funny - and true! I agree that a 10% closing ratio is actually quite good for this type of sales process albeit pushy. But I'd take it in today's market!!

Jul 17, 2009 05:20 AM
Jane Sullivan Horne, Prudential Waterfront Properties

Great post! I wouldn't buy from someone like that, and I don't sell that way either! What a perfect reminder when we all seem to be in a hurry to find a buyer. It takes time to build rapport. You seem like the kind of person I'd enjoy spending time with looking for my dream home...thanks again!

Jul 17, 2009 05:57 AM
Mary Anne Daly

Brian, You should have shown up dressed like George Washington, a la your early video and stayed in character the whole time.  That would have thrown him for a loop!  I'm sure you could do a hilarious video on that :)

Jul 17, 2009 10:18 AM
Gerry Banister
RE/MAX Showcase Homes - Beverly Hills, MI

Brian,  Wewll said.  It is amazing to stand back and watch a Realtor attempt to hard sell their client when I provide access to  one of my listings.

Jul 18, 2009 01:10 AM
Dana B Sanfiorenzo

HYSTERICAL !  I bet he thought his presentation was Great, too ! 



Jul 20, 2009 09:09 AM
Marty Erlandson
Erlandson Realty - La Crosse, WI

I can't believe that 1 out of 12 people actually fall for that crap!  Where are all the people born yesterday in my area? 

Jul 20, 2009 10:15 AM
Brenda Swigert
Keller Williams Associate Partners Realty - West Chester, OH

Oh Brian! This reminds me of our timeshare experience in Colonial Williamsburg, VA. I didn't think we were going to get out of there alive unless we bought a time share. When I forcefully said NO they were so rude!

This is a great reminder of how not to act! Great post!

Jul 21, 2009 02:24 AM
WinZone Realty Inc. - Elmhurst, NY

Hi Brian,

This is a great post,I had been througt that once. I have been in Cacun, it' a beautiful place, I loved, hope you enjoyed your stay.

Jul 21, 2009 04:11 AM
JoAnn Young
Young & Young Properties - Melbourne, FL
Florida Real Estate

On the prequal note:  why spend the time "selling" if one is not qualified to buy?  Like going to Walmart without your wallet!

Jul 23, 2009 01:51 AM
Kristi Gomez, Ashland OR

I went on a presentation in Nuevo Vallarta being a Realtor for only 3 months. I was approached on the streets outside of my hotel, my focus mostly only on the freebies and thinking 90 minutes of my time was not a big deal and worth the price of the excursion I wanted. I also agreed to the presentation, not realizing it was a timeshare, because I live in a town where many people buy condos on the beach in Mexico and I thought I could get the information, go home armed and ready to get out there and sell those great condos to friends and clients.  I thought, Lucky Me! Well, I had a nice lunch with an interesting man who had bought timeshares himself but then he turned me over to the CLOSER, great name by the way.  My 90 minutes presentation had past and since it was not what I thought it was and I was not interested, I said good bye and walked away. The CLOSER ran after me, yelling and saying that I had no integrity and that my word was worthless. I kept walking, told him that I did not agree with him, got my freebies, hailed a taxi and I got the heck out of there.  It was definately a lesson on what not to do with a client...... and an interesting way of getting a great excursion for free! Not sure that I would do it again though.

Jul 28, 2009 06:10 AM
Barbara Tretola
RAC Real Estate Associates, Inc. - Massapequa Park, NY

We went to one of those as I was interested, but even if the price was right would nt have given in to those tactics. We came home and I bought a resale on ebay for 1/5 their price. At another one years later the agent (or whatever they are) was mad that I did not tell him I was a RE agent. What difference would it have made, or maybe he realized as a RE agent, i have ethics and care about the people I sell to/for.

Aug 06, 2009 07:46 PM
Mark Velasco
West Shores Realty - Whittier, CA
Top Producing Broker Associate

Yeah, I have been there too Brian.  The terrible thing is that they almost block the exits until you threaten to bust your way out. Terrible.  Way too persistent.

Aug 13, 2009 05:40 PM

Actually its greed that brings people to timeshare events in the first place, they want something for free.  However it sounds like the TS salesman in the story above actually knew nothing about how to sell.  The fact is that points based timeshare is a much better deal than pay as you go, or buying vacation off the internet via dot com sites.  After all, the timeshares are the vacation providers, the wholesalers or consolidators then purchase bulk from the TS resort (many of whom own hotel brands like Disney etc.) and then get resold to the dot coms and the travel agents at a huge mark up.  If you travel alot or want to travel more, then time share point system is the way to go, or would you rather sleep in that bed with the curly hair all over it or sit on that comforter that hasn't been changed or washed for two years in that hotel room. 

Apr 13, 2010 03:20 PM