Think of something that you consider yourself proficient at doing. It may be playing golf, dancing, flying a plane whatever. Were you born with the skill needed to accomplish this? Of course not. Your abilities came about as a result of a five-step learning process.

  • A desire to learn.

  • A good role model whose knowledge is superior to yours.

  • Basic blocks of knowledge that are built one on top of the other.

  • Dedicated study of the knowledge received;, and,

The discipline of practice. Remember knowledge does not equate to skill.

Only practiced knowledge does that.

Several years ago I received a real birthday surprise from a client of mine who had learned that one of my fantasies was to fly in one of those super jet fighters. In the middle of a training session, they whisked me off to Cecil Air Force Base where I had the privilege of flying 600 miles per hour in an F-18. Well, it was not exactly like that. Actually it was the simulator of an F-18 cockpit. Every detail was identical to the real plane. Through the use of computers, I had the chance to feel almost the same sensations as a pilot as I taxied down the runway, took off and climbed, rolled, dove and made three separate attempts at a night-time landing on an aircraft carrier seven miles away. Blood pressure definitely increased.

What amazed me were all the different details that needed attention. There was every kind of gauge you can imagine that gives the pilot all the readings that are possibly needed. Just think, the TOP GUN pilots that fly that incredible aircraft have to start out by learning the mere basics of flight such as drag, thrust, lift, etc. This seems so far away from the phenomenal feats of precision they can accomplish as TOP GUNS. This expertise came about through the same five steps of learning desire, modeling, building blocks of basic knowledge, study and practice.

Is becoming a master of selling so different from becoming a TOP GUN pilot? I don’t think so. Without a doubt, selling is a skill-filled art, much like playing golf, dancing, or flying an F-18 fighter. When any of these activities is performed by a master, the hundreds of little nuances blend together to create a smooth flow of near-perfect performance.

If you are about to take off in an F-18, you would first of all sit on that runway for several minutes while the engines warm up. A master in our business would sit with that prospect in the sales center and do at least twenty or thirty minutes of warm-up as well, by establishing rapport, gaining trust and then moving the prospect from casual curiosity up to the level of intense interest before ever taking

off. As a pilot you would taxi down that runway, gain speed, then lift off into the beautiful blue horizon.

As you “take off” you are giving the absolute best presentations of your community by increasing the interest level of your prospect through numerous testimonials of buyers, verbal experiences of the various amenities, and creating the perception of value. As a pilot you know the targets that you must aim for and by using your various gauges, you lock the heat-seeking missiles on to those targets and fire with perfect precision to accomplish your mission. As a sales master, you have asked layered, in-depth questions, listened attentively to their answers, used the various “gauges” such as body language, eye contact, tone of voice, etc. You will then be able to aim your “missiles” in the form of powerful, third-party stories, a selection of properties to create increased value, emotional word pictures and closes, in order to succeed at your mission as well. For a mission to be fully successful, a pilot must return and make a safe landing. You, as the sales master, must understand the effective ways to close that person on making a decision so that you can “bring them home safely”.

Whenever you are working with the prospect in your community or meeting potential prospects at a home show and trying to persuade them to come visit you, the ideas of selling are the same. Make up your mind that you will learn to become a master in the art of persuasion. Have the desire, find a proven role model, build on the basic blocks of knowledge you learn, study this knowledge and practice. Believe me, it’s a lot safer to practice in a simulator than in one of those multi- million dollar planes. It’s a lot safer to practice with one of your peers in the office, than it is to practice on a costly prospect. Remember, we have all been taught, incorrectly, that practice makes perfect. “Practice only makes permanent, only perfect practice makes perfect”. So says the late TOP GUN, Coach Vincent Lombardi.

Terry Weaver is the founder and President of Marketing & Sales Institute, Inc. MSI is based in Bluffton, South Carolina and provides top-notch sales and management training specifically for amenity communities around oceans, lakes, mountains and golf courses in the U.S. and Canada.

MSI does sales and management training along with marketing consultation for luxury amenity communities throughout the United States, Mexico and the Islands. Phone: 843-706-3872 Email:

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