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Aviation Sales – How to Revive Dead Prospects

Most aviation sales professionals give up on prospects way too soon!

There are three types of prospects that sales folks might consider “dead.” Those might include

“Left for dead” a la “Hang ’em High”
“Mostly dead” a la “The Princess Bride”
and, of course, “Actually Dead.”

In this episode, John and I talk about the difference, and how to revise the ones that can be revised.

AMHF 0158 - Aviation Sales - How to Revive Dead Prospects

In our case, we evaluate everyone we’ve talked to this year that hasn’t made a purchase, and decide several things:

  • Are they qualified to make a purchase now?
  • Are the things that are keeping them from purchasing anything within our control?
  • If those factors are outside of our control,  is it possible that they will change at some point in the future?
  • Do we have permission to stay in touch with them?

Why Do Salespeople Leave Prospects for Dead?

Prospects are tougher than you think! And they don’t die easily.

Like Clint Eastwood’s character in the movie “Hang ‘Em High,” being “left for dead” is not a great thing.

Especially in the aviation industry . Someone who is “not interested” might actually be saying:

  • “I’m not yet convinced that I need this, I was just curious.”
  • “I am looking at multiple options”
  • “I don’t know enough yet to talk intelligently to a salesperson.”
  • “I’m allergic to salespeople.”
  • “I’m in the witness protection program”
  • “I don’t have the money to make a purchase yet, but might in the future.”
  • “I’m too low on the food chain at my company to make this decision, but we need your product or service so I’m looking for something to recommend to my boss.”

Any of these reasons is perfectly valid, but it’s just simpler (and habit!) to just say, “I’m not interested.”

Many novice salespeople just check the box in their prospect file that says “Not interested,” close the file and move on.

The problem with this is that these novice salespeople miss out on 80% of their sales!


So, when your prospect tells you he’s not interested, what do you do?

Ask for permission to keep in touch in a low-key way.  Offer to send them your newsletters. Invite them to have coffee at an upcoming trade show just to talk about business.

Then, add them to a “holding pattern.”  Like a holding pattern at an airport, a  holding pattern works best if it’s as planned and practiced as possible.

If you have a CRM or email program, you can send regular updates, and use a tickler system to remind yourself to call this prospect or check in on a regular basis.

Send birthday cards.

Use any excuse you can think of to stay in touch in a non-salesy, low-pressure sort of way. Ideally, one that educates the customer about your products and services.  A “tip of the week” with useful information goes a long way toward building a long-term relationship.

How to Revive a Mostly Dead Prospect

If you’ve seen the movie “The Princess Bride,” you may remember the scene where Westley is almost killed.  His friends, Iñego Montoya and Fezzik carried him to the home of Miracle Max.  Miracle Max declared that Westley was not “actually dead,” he was only “mostly dead,” which means “partly alive!”  Miracle Max and his wife administered a magical pill and said Westley would eventually  revive.

Inego and Fezzik bodily hauled Westley around for the rest of the movie until the climax.

Westley miraculously revived just in time to rise to the challenge and demand that the evil Prince Humperdink:


And, of course, Westley the unassuming farm boy saved the day and everyone lived happily ever after.

The moral of this story in our case is that sometimes you have to carry your “mostly dead” prospects around for a good length of time.  And often then end up being your very best customers.

What if Your Prospect is Actually Dead?

If someone has ACTUALLY opted out from your mailing list,  is literally out of business, or has actually died, of course you can save yourself the time and postage.

In fact, if someone asks you to stop sending emails, you’re legally required to stop.

No problem.  There are plenty of other fish in the sea!

In our experience, 80% of your “dead” prospects were only “left for dead” or “mostly dead.”


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