Three Ways to Make More Repeat Sales in the Aviation Industry

Most of our clients make 50% or more of the revenue from repeat customers.

Aviation is interesting that way – the high trust, highly regulated, b2b nature of most sales in the industry, once you get PAST that trust barrier and become a trusted partner or vendor, customers tend to be very, very loyal.

Of course, every sword has two edges- once you gain a happy customer, inertia is on your side.

But that doesn’t mean it happens by accident, or can be taken for granted.   In this episode, we talk about three ways to maximize the return on investment from your CURRENT client list.



Three Ways to Earn More Repeat Sales in the Aviation Industry

So, here’s what you do:

  • Understand your customer lifecycle
  • Use your (and their) favorite marketing tools to tie into your customers’ needs when they need you!
  • Automate and/or delegate the process

How to Understand Your Customer Lifecycle

Some of our clients sell consumables or software, which their customers buy each month.

We also have clients who are aircraft brokers or airport construction-related companies, that may not have an obvious resale pattern.

People don’t buy a new business jet or a new hangar every year!

But if you watch the market long enough or see enough data about your specialty, you’ll probably find that many flight departments upgrade some of their aircraft every three or four years.

And every airport tends to have new building projects going on once every five or six years.

Most of our clients have a customer lifecycle (or the length of time that goes by between purchases) somewhere between every month and every four years.

Just like a great waiter knows exactly when to come by and ask for your order, you can magically pop up in your customer’s attention just as he is coming to the conclusion that he needs to contact you again.

If you know, from your experience with them or from industry data, when they’re most likely to buy again, you can make an effort to reconnect with them, just at the time they need you.

Where we live, a company called Jiffy Lube sells oil changes and other automobile services, and they manage this better than anyone we know.  They write down the odometer reading each time you bring you car in, and they know the manufacturer’s recommendations for your make and model of automobile. So they send a convenient postcard (with a coupon, of course!) reminding you that the manufacturer for YOUR car recommends service for this specific number of miles and this specific date range, so here’s $20 off your next service!  And here’s a number you can call for priority scheduling.

It’s brilliant.  And yet I have seen VERY few aviation companies do something similar.

Their Favorite Marketing Tool?  Pick Any Two:

So, how do you reach out them?  Ideally, you’ll know how you connected with this particular customer in the first place, and have a feel for his or her favorite mode of communication.

In any case, things change, and people are busy.  So it’s best to use at least two different media, and usually at least two separate attempts.

  • Personalized emails  (at least 2)
  • Personalized postcards (at least 1, but 2 is better)
  • Handwritten notes (1)
  • Phone calls (at least one “live” call or 2 voice mails)
  • Text messages (at least 2)
  • Dynamic (personalized) web pages (1)

So, if it’s time for Mr. Smith at Company X to buy more widgets, your campaign might look like this:

The List:  Mr. Smith  (or everyone who purchased in 2016)

The Offer: A free service (or an extended warrantee, or  a pie, or a set of golf clubs) when they make a purchase before a deadline.

The Presentation:  Plan five or six customer “touches” using at least two different media, over a four to eight week period.  For example, for a campaign ending April 15, you might  send

  • March 1 – Postcard
  • March 6 – Email
  • March 15 – Email
  • March 30 – Postcard
  • April 4 – Text
  • April 11 – Email  & Phone Call (3/4 of call attempts will probably be voice mails, so plan a good one!)
  • April 15 – Text  & Phone Call

Make sure you remove people from this campaign if they respond, so you’re not driving your best customers crazy!

Remember that “yes,” “no,” or “not at this time” are all valid responses!

Automate or Delegate the Process

A great Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) like Hubspot, SharpSpring, SalesForce or Infusionsoft makes all of this MUCH easier.   Your CRM can run reports to help determine who to include in this campaign.  It can help you determine which media that have been getting the best response from a particular customer or set of customers.  It can also send emails, print postcard labels, send texts, and remind your sales staff to make calls and documenting the results of those calls.

Your CRM will also make it easier to remove people from the campaign as they respond.

If you don’t have a CRM, or don’t know how to use it to accomplish these particular tasks, some companies or professionals do it using a spreadsheet, index cards or a white board to track the tasks and responses.

Whatever you do, don’t let the fact that your staff is “too busy” to do a resale campaign be the reason you don’t get it done.  The process can be automated with software or delegated to temporary or outsourced staff.

ABCI  manages many of these campaigns for clients – generally speaking we collaborate on the materials, and once approved, we send electronic and postal materials on whatever schedule we’ve agreed upon.

Of course, you’ll have to manage incoming calls and let us know (usually via the CRM) who’s responded.

This lets you concentrate on discussing specific needs with your customers, closing those sales, delivering the best products and services to your customers,  knowing that the details and heavy lifting of marketing is being managed.

Whether you do the work yourself, or would like to have us handle part of it for you, we LOVE talking with aviation companies about how to get more sales.

Schedule a free 30-minute consultation with us and let’s talk about how we can get a higher percentage of your customers to repeat purchases.


Schedule a free consultation and let’s talk about how to get more repeat sales!


This lets you concentrate on discussing specific needs with your customers, closing those sales, delivering the best products and services to your customers,  knowing that the details and heavy lifting of marketing is being managed.

Whether you do the work yourself, or would like to have us handle part of it for you, we LOVE talking with aviation companies about how to get more sales.

Schedule a free 30-minute consultation or call Paula at 702-987-1679  us and let’s talk about how we can get a higher percentage of your customers to repeat purchases.

Inforaphic - How to earn repeat sales in the aviation industry.



Schedule a free consultation and let’s talk about how to get more repeat sales!


Aviation Personal Branding Tip – Buy Your Name as a URL

Here’s a quick tip for aviation personal branding for sales and marketing professionals (or anyone in a public role, no matter how small or specific.)

Buy a URL that includes your domain name.

The less common your name, the easier this will be.  Unfortunately, has been bought by a speculator who wants a ridiculous amount of money for it. So, if you’re lucky enough to have a name like, you can get it for as little as ten dollars a year and set it up on autorenew.

(We’ve done this for all of our kids, just in case they ever want to use it.)

Reasons you want your own name as a domain name:

  • You control what shows up when people search your name on Google.  As As Sundar Pinchai had to embarrassingly explain to Congress, search engines function based what people have written about.  So if nothing (or very little) has been written about you on the internet, one embarrassing or negative or irrelevant thing happens, you get mentioned in “ or a negative review about your business.  That one thing will be what people see when they search for you. Much better to control it.
  • It’s easier for people to find you.  If people don’t remember your company name and just remember your own name, it’s nice to make that connection.  If you change jobs or employers, you can change where your domain points to.

Things you can do with your domain name:

  • Point it to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Point it to your bio page on your company website.
  • Create a website, or even a simple page, with whatever you want on it.
  • Point it to a portfolio of your work on Instagram or Pinterest.
  • Set up an email  or shortcut using it – (I could use if I’d been smart enough to buy the name years ago) or use it as a shortcut to a gmail or outlook account, then if I switch email providers, it will always work!
  • Review your list of Authority, Credibility and Expertise (ACE Markers) for more ideas to use your domain!

This is probably the easiest and least expensive aviation personal branding tip we’ve ever offered.

Even if you don’t know precisely what you’re going to do with it at this moment I highly recommend taking a moment to purchase your domain name.

If you’re an ABCI client, shoot me an email and let’s talk about the options!

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.”


Sales Enablement Tools – AKA BattleCards!

John and I talk about the pros and cons of Sales Enablement Tools, including a list of three that you MUST have in your wallet to win sales.


Aviation Sales Enablement Tools AKA Battle CardsWe’ve been hearing about sales training that involves “battle cards.”

Wow, what a great idea!  And also, wow, what a terrible idea!

Reasons Battle Cards are Great Sales Tools, if Used Properly

We’re all in favor of sales enablement tools, which are references your salespeople use to get up to speed and use key information about your company, products, services, customers and competitors.

Great reasons to think of sales enablement tools as “battle cards:”

  • Concise
  • Easy to understand
  • Graphic & visual

After all, the more information they have, the better they will do, right?

Not so fast. . .

Caveat – Sales is Not A Game!

sales enablement tools - battle cards your salespeople should haveThere are also good reasons sales enablement tools should not be thought of as “battle cards:”

  • Sales is NOT a battle!
  • You and the customer are ON THE SAME SIDE.
  • Treating sales as a game could trivialize customer concerns or prevent careful listening.

Many salespeople also suffer from an “us versus them” mentality, and this analogy might actually contribute to that problem.

If you’ve ever watched kids playing with battle cards, they are slapping cards down as fast as they can do the calculations.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately!) aviation consumers don’t like games. They don’t like to be treated as opponents.  And they’re sure not going to let some salesperson “win” a game they’re playing with their hard-earned money (or budget.)

No reference tool should ever be more important to the sales process than listening to, and truly understanding, the customer.

This is one great reason that new salespeople tend to do really well. If they don’t know much about the product or service, they spend MORE time and energy working really hard on customer research and make no assumption about what they think they know.

So, with that caveat, here are three “battle tools” that will improve the performance of your sales team:

Battle Card #1 – Key Statistics

Create an easy reference sheet that includes the basics about the company, the primary products, the ideal customers, the main competitors, and the expectations customers have about what the brand can do for them.

  • Key statistics
  • Success stories
  • Customers
  • Competitors
  • Expectations

Battle Card #2- Feature Comparison

Many of your customers will be doing their own comparison about how your products stack up against the competition. You can do this work for them and lay it out in a simple matrix.

  • Key features
  • Main competitors
  • How they stack up

Battle Card #3 – Objection Analysis

Brainstorm the most common questions and objections your customers bring up in discussions, and spend some time writing out thoughtful answers.

  • Top 5 or 10 objections
  • A deep understanding of each objection
  • Methods to counter it

Building (regularly reviewing and updating) these three battle cards with your sales team is a great way to ensure everyone is up to speed on important facts, and that your team is consistent in the information they’re communicating to prospective customers.

This is also a great vehicle to communicate changes.   When you roll out a new product upgrade or acquire a new customer you can use as a reference, update and redistribute your Battle Cards and review them in your next sales meeting!


17 Key Credibility Markers for Aviation Salespeople

Why are Credibility Markers important for aviation salespeople?


Ideally, the world would be a perfect meritocracy and every decision would be made after carefully considering all relevant information.

Unfortunately, customers may not know as much as they should about the products and services they’re researching.  And they’re busy.


So they may subconsciously use a “shorthand” for a first impression about how credible a person is, and how much weight they should place on his or her advice.


Many of the people who seek our help in aviation marketing and personal branding are concerned about credibility markers.


They find that their competitors are being quoted in industry magazines, asked to speak at events, and most importantly, and are able to sell their products and services with a lot less resistance.




In many cases, it is not because their competitor ACTUALLY has more authority, credibility and expertise, but because that person has more PERCEIVED authority, credibility and expertise.

“It’s not my style to blow my own horn,” said one client who we won’t name, “But I can see how customers, who haven’t studied our company and our competitors, might jump to the conclusion that <<the other guy>> is more credible.   Things have improved a LOT since we started accomplishing a few of the more obvious markers.”


Credibility Markers for Aviation Salespeople:

Here are a few of the things that aviation salespeople can do to be seen to have more authority, credibility and expertise.

  1. Write a Book.
  2. Publish a Press Release
  3. Give a Presentation or be a Guest Speaker or Panelist.
  4. Build a Social Media Audience.
  5. Be a guest on an aviation podcast.
  6. Host a podcast.
  7. Create live videos
  8. Make sure your website is clean, current & correct.
  9. Host a webinar, class or workshop on your topic.
  10. Join/be active in associations
  11. Form strategic alliances
  12. Ask for, and publish testimonials
  13. Ask for reviews on Yelp, Google or Facebook (or endorsements on LinkedIn)
  14. Use Before/After examples or Case Studies
  15. Publish a Buyer’s Guide, Checklist or Tip Sheet.
  16. Write the Five Key Stories Every Aviation Company Must Tell.
  17. Win industry awards.

Make Your Credibility Markers More Visible  (Without Bragging)

Lions don’t need to roar.

You’ve probably acquired some of these markers, but it’s also important to make sure people SEE them. The more visible your credibility markers are, the less you have to talk about them.


Credibility marker - publish a book

For example,  ensure your book is available from Amazon and has reviews from people who have read it, even if you serve a very small niche and are not likely to reach New York Times Bestseller status.  Put a link to your book on Amazon (or your local bookseller, if you prefer) on your email signature line.   We give away more books than we sell, but many people searching for “aviation marketing” or “aviation social media” on Amazon will find us through our book.

You can put logos together from outlets that have published your press release and include it on your website, or incorporate them into a brochure that you send to prospects and customers as part of a new customer welcome package or an annual update package.   You can include them in the footer of your website or newsletter.  You can feature them on your social media profiles.

The more visible you make your credibility markers,  the less you have to talk about them.

Credibility Markers - Wall of Sold Planes

JetBrokers hung photos of each aircraft they sell in their office.  (Until the frames were discontinued, and they ran out of wall space! ) Brokers like Jeremy Cox who use this office to chat with clients (or prospective clients) hardly need to mention the success record of the firm.

Credibility markers

This hallway of credentials and award in Turbines Inc’s office in Terre Haute leaves little doubt about their qualifications as visitors enter.

This hallway of credentials and award in Turbines Inc’s office in Terre Haute leaves little doubt about their qualifications as visitors enter.

Key Takeaways for Credibility Markers

  • Make the Credibility Markers you have already accomplished more visible.
  • Choose any three and make plans to accomplish them in the next 90 days.
  • Make plans to accomplish ALL (or most) of them over the next three years.

How to Sell Aviation Art at a Trade Show

How to Sell Aviation Art at a Trade Show

We had a question from Nate, (not his real name) who is an artist that will be showing aviation art at the  NBAA show in Orlando this year.   We have some advice about how to sell more!

“I’m going to display and sell art at NBAA in Orlando in October. I don’t have a ton of money, I’m going ‘all-in’ on this event. I have a great corner booth and am planning a great display. 

How do I make the most of this opportunity?”

In a nutshell –

  • Build a list of potential buyers
  • Create a fantastic catalog
  • Feature one piece of art per hour, with a guest speaker
  • Follow up with specific customers after the show about their favorite piece.

1. Buy, borrow or build a list of potential buyers.

Just showing up at a trade show, and having a great booth, does not guarantee that you’ll have foot traffic to your booth, or make sales.  You’re investing a lot in booth rent and travel.  If you’re looking for advice on how to sell aviation art at a trade show, our first piece of advice is to invite as many people as you can to come see your art!

Make a list of people who are likely buyers:

2. Create a Catalog

How to sell Aviation Art at a trade show - Build a Catalog!You’ll want this to reflect positively on your brand, whether it’s online or on paper.  (Printed catalogs are held in far more esteem by aviation decision makers!)

Besides photos, include the story behind each piece, and information about how the art is created.

There is not a lot of overlap between aviation professionals and art professionals – so you’ll have to assume that your buyers don’t have  a lot of expertise in how to buy art.

Of course they will fall in love with some of your pieces, but even so, they will have to justify the purchase to themselves, to their board, to their accountant, or their best friend.

You can help them assure themselves and other stakeholders that they’re making a great investment by providing information about other pieces you’ve sold, with the prices they’ve sold for. (If that information is impressive!)

Also list galleries and installations that feature your work.

You’ll also want to explain the differences between the types of art you’re selling, and others on the market.  Most non “art people” aren’t clear on the differences between an original, limited edition, or part of a series, or a reproduction.

(But they won’t want to reveal their ignorance at a trade show by asking! )

You can help them become more educated and confident in making a purchase by including all of this information in your catalog so they’re well-informed when they visit your booth.

3. During the Show

How to Sell Aviation Art - the BoothSome of your pieces will naturally be more prominent than others, no matter how well-designed your booth may be.

You can feature a different piece each hour in your most prominent display space.  That way, as people walk by more than once, they will see different pieces.

You can also invite guest speakers to provide a brief (5-10 minute)  lecture or discussion about the subject matter of your art. Invite a pilot who flew that aircraft, or a historian familiar with the period, or even an aircraft designer who can speak about a particular aviation topic.

Publish a schedule of these appearances, and make certain you have a few “family and friends” to attend each presentation or lecture. People will stop and listen!

Collect Leads – offer catalogs in exchange for business cards.

Make notes on the back of each business card about which piece the person asked questions about or spent the most time looking at.

4. After the Show

Send all of your leads repeated follow ups by mail and email.

  • Catalogs/brochures
  • Newsletters including sales
  • Schedules of where to see your art next.
  • Ask for referrals when someone buys a piece.  “Who else do you know that has similar taste in art?”

Wrapping Up

Each piece you sell, and each event you attend, extends you network as an artist, and improves your chances of selling you next piece at the price you want.

Need Help Selling Aviation Art?

Download our Trade Show Checklist, or  find 30 minutes for a free consultation to talk with us about how to meet your goals!

Aviation Writers, Speakers and Educators are also Salespeople!

Although sales has a (sometimes well-deserved) bad reputation among aviation writers, journalists, speakers, podcasters and educators; sales is an integral part of the job.

Convincing your readers, listeners, and students to at least listen to your ideas is a necessary step to being effective in any of these fields.

In this episode, John and I talk about where our attitudes about sales come from, how the best teachers (and even doctors) are great salespeople, and discuss how it’s possible to keep your values intact and STILL be a very effective salesperson.

Aviation writers, speakers and educators don’t necessarily like to think of themselves as salespeople. In fact, many of us, maybe without even realizing it,  carry a rather negative stereotype of the sales profession, and of salespeople.

The impressions that stick with us most effectively are the ones that are particularly good or particularly bad.

And most of us have had a particularly bad experience with a salesperson at one time or another in our lives.

Who hasn’t?

But I promise  that learning essential sales skills will NOT make you have bad breath or  closet full of bad polyester prints!

But Sales is the “Dark Side!”

My undergrad degree was in Communications and Journalism.

We learned rather quickly that advertising and sales are from the “dark side” of the newspaper and magazine business.

Editorial is supposed to be clean and impartial, sales and advertising are a “necessary evil.”

Many writers would have nothing to do with sales or advertising if they had their “druthers.”

Most of us get our attitudes about sales and marketing also from our parents.

I remember my Dad talking about salespeople, and missionaries  (he grew up in Salt Lake City, at a time when LDS missionaries were particularly persistent!

He also had a close friend that got involved with a multi level marketing company and had a really bad experience.   He lost a lot of money, felt a lot of pressure to strong-arm family and friends into buying products, and generally discolored everyone’s feelings about salespeople.

BUT. . . .

Sales Skills Won’t Make You Evil. (Unless you Already Are.)

The truth of the matter is that you can’t be as effective as a writer, speaker OR educator unless you are also good at sales.

Here’s why.

Part of the job of being a successful writer, is getting readers.  You’ve heard the term “the headline sells the article?”

Great writers also cultivate an audience that looks forward to their next article.

These writers are worth more to the publications they write for, because they bring more readers to the table.

“Bestselling” authors get paid more than . . . “best author!”

Great speakers are able to “get butts in seats.”

Aviation conventions and events are always looking for keynote and education session speakers who bring a large audience, and are able to keep them riveted in place until the end of the event.

It doesn’t matter how great your speech is if you’re talking to an empty room.

Being influential means “selling” something, even if it is simply selling concepts and ideas you’d like the audience to consider.

Great instructors also “sell” concepts.

Students remember things better when you can be convincing.

We all want to be able to influence more people.

Better sales skills help you get more article and book assignments. More speaking gigs. Rooms packed with more people. Podcasts with higher numbers. And more classes to teach, with more students in them.

And more revenue.

And more revenue allows you to travel more.

Perfect your skills.

Hire an assistant.

Get a better computer or better software.

So, since we all have to do sales tasks, why not get better at it?

We decided to do a webinar specifically for aviation writers, speakers and educators, because what they do is SO important.

Writers, Speakers and Educators are Leaders of the Aviation Industry.

There are some masterful salespeople in our industry  – Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Lynn Tilton, and many of our clients!

There are also a lot of folks who are still under the impression that if they  produce a good, honest product or service, that the wold will beat a path to their door.

I’m sorry to disappoint them.  That’s just not the way the world works. But it’s fairly easy to do some good marketing and solve that problem.

Writers, speakers an educators are the ones who influence the direction of the industry and the way the rest of the world feels about our industry. We’d like to help them be more effective. for the good of the industry AND for our own good.

Here’s an example – No Plane No Gain “Sells” Business Aviation.

In 2008, the four major auto dealers each flew to Washington DC in their own private jet.

They probably thought nothing about it at the time, it was  a standard business practice, and an expedient way to manage a crisis.

The public didn’t see it that way. There was a massive outcry about private aviation which had become a symbol of corporate excess.

To their credit, NBAA has been doing a massive damage control campaign, “selling” the idea of business aviation as a cost-effective business tool.

And they’re doing a good job.  But it illustrates how important it is to be able to “sell” our side  of the story.  The side with the best use of sales skills often wins.

And that should be you!

So, what’s the difference between effective, ethical salespeople with intact values, versus the slimy, repellent type of sales that we can’t get away from fast enough?

We think it’s intention.

If your intention is “clean,” then you can be as convincing as you need to be.

A person with clean intentions is looking for win-wins, and is honestly looking for the best possible outcome for the prospect, rather than looking for his own next paycheck.

Come to our Webinar

Free Webinar - Essential Sales Skills for Aviation Speakers, Writers, & EducatorsWe also announce our latest free webinar – Sales Essentials for Aviation Writers, Speakers and Educators, to be held on May 2, 2018 at 1:00 PM. Join us here!

Participants will receive a set of email (or LinkedIn) templates for tasks such as:

  • Pitching articles and/or press releases to editors and publishers.
  • Pitching guest appearances to podcasters
  • Speaking engagement proposals
  • Follow Ups

We look forward to seeing you there!

Book Club Discussion – Aviation Sales – Same Game, New Rules

John and I discuss the business to business sales classic Same Game, New Rules by Bill Caskey, especially how it relates to aviation sales. Featuring a “top ten” list by Jeremy Cox of Jet Brokers.

How This is Different from Every Other Sales Philosophy?

John and I have attended a LOT of sales training, from everyone from insurance companies to auto specialists – Dale Carnegie, Sandler, etc. etc. etc.  And we’ve read a LOT of books.

Most sales advice out there is great, but every program or every book seems to throw in something that would be dangeFather of sales training - zig-ziglarrous or even insulting to try on an aviation industry client.

Most of the sales philosophy in the United States has been heavily influenced (if not downright adapted from) Zig Ziglar .

With Richard “Dick” Gardner and Hal Krause, Ziglar was a charter member in the establishment of American Salesmasters in 1963. The company’s objective was to raise the image of salespeople in America by providing seminars. They began with cities across the Midwest (Memphis, Atlanta, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Denver, etc), featuring speakers like Zig, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Ken McFarland, Cavett Robert, Bill Gove, Dr. Maxwell Maltz, Red Motley and many more. They booked an auditorium, put together a slate of speakers and contacted local businesses to sell tickets. Audiences included insurance agents, car salesmen, financial advisors, entrepreneurs, small business owners and curiosity seekers.

Zig went on to speak extensively for audiences of the National Association of Sales Education (NASE), founded by Dick Gardner in 1965, and also became a major sales trainer for Mary Kay Cosmetics. In 1968, he became a vice president and training director for the Automotive Performance company and moved to Dallas, Texas. The company went bankrupt two years later. Subsequently, Zig spoke extensively at seminars for Peter Lowe, of Get Motivated, and eventually signed an exclusive agreement to support Peter Lowe events.

In addition to speaking, Ziglar wrote over 30 books. His first book, See You At The Top, was rejected 39 times before it was published in 1975. It is still in print today.   – From Wikipedia.

We have nothing but respect for “Zig,” who died in 2012.  And we quote him often.  A few of our favorites:

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.
You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.
You don’t have to be great at something to start, but you have to start to be great at something.
Sound familiar?  Just shows how much he’s influenced popular culture, especially popular sales culture.
But, in all the good stuff in books and sales training out there, we’ve found that much of it is more suited to retail culture of the ’70s and ’80s. A few things have changed since then! Especially when your prospects are B2B and/or aviation industry decision makers.
A few key differences that aviation sales pros will understand well:
  • Customers are much more savvy and suspicious of traditional sales tactics. They can see typical “close” lines coming a mile away and have developed great strategies to avoid anything that smells like a traditional “sales pitch.”
  • Unlike retail sales in the 70s and 80s, aviation salespeople usually have a limited number of prospects for the specific product or service they are selling.
  • The sales process for B2B products is much more technical and involved than the average retail sale.
  • Quite frankly, many of the old style sales techniques are seen as insulting by savvy aviation decision makers.

I was first attracted to Bill Caskey and Bryan Neale’s podcast, the Advanced Selling Podcast, nearly ten years ago when John and I first got into the aviation marketing industry and I realized that as the owner of the company, I had to be the salesperson.  As much as I resisted the idea, generating lots of great leads was not enough – aviation requires person-to-person sales.

The podcast was refreshing because of its tone – low key, laid back, and comfortable. None of the “salesy” Ziggy enthusiasm I’d come to expect from sales training people.  So, I recommended the book for our Book Club.

How This is Different from Every Other Sales Book

Aviation Sales - Book Review of Bill Caskey's Book - Same Game, New RulesJohn and I really liked the way Caskey’s book contrasted “old thinking” with “new thinking” in a neat little table at the beginning of each chapter.  That really helped summarize and make the stories, examples and insights from each chapter much more interesting and applicable, because that little table really crystallized the concept.

Caskey’s “Fundamental Shift” is really a mindset change.  Before discounting this as unimportant, we have to recognize that at least 80% of communication is nonverbal. If we’re communicating nervousness or fear to a prospect, it might just be that sales calls or sales presentations are not our favorite activity. But when a customer hears “fear” his brain jumps immediately to “scam.”

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking of salespeople as repellent or unpleasant, it’s likely because we naturally find fear or desperation repellent, and many salespeople are scared to death.

They’re scared of not making their quota, of getting yelled at by their boss, of not being able to meet their financial obligations, etc.

In aviation sales, we can’t afford for people to have that repellent feeling.  We have to get past that quickly with prospects who have VERY highly developed sales resistance.

Imagine if you could reduce the fear and risk from the sales situation – that’s what it’s like listening Caskey and Neale’s podcast,  or reading this book.

Our Book Club is part of our Aviation Sales & Marketing Lab –  we review one sales or marketing book each month and discuss how it relates (or not!)  to the aviation industry.

It’s also a great conversation piece for networking among our clients.   And it’s a great supplement to our Aviation Sales Courses.

Join us!

Have  you read it? Do you have a favorite sales book?  Let us know!



Closing Aviation Sales with Credibility

Closing aviation sales has become more difficult.

Why? Because salespeople and marketing folks are increasingly seen as the “villain” in the story, until they prove otherwise.

Like it or not, all the shenanigans that salespeople in aviation (and every other industry) reflects badly on the rest of us. So, we have a much higher “burden of proof.”

We share three techniques to get out of “villain mode,” build credibility, and close sales more smoothly and reliably, and with a lot less suspicion and friction in the process.

closing sales

Prospects are often more afraid of disappointing their boss or coworkers with a bad decision than they are of spending money on an appropriate product or service.

Why is it so hard to build credibility with aviation prospects?  Because as sales or marketing professionals, we are “cast as the villain in the story” from the very beginning.

It’s also very difficult to get the attention of busy, distracted prospects who are constantly barraged with advertising, most of which is of questionable relevance and value to them.

And once we do get their attention, it’s hard to progress the sales process.  Even people who are offering free trials have a hard to “giving it away.” Why?

While many beginning salespeople assume that sales resistance is about the money, in business to business sales, that’s usually not the biggest problem. It’s not really the prospect’s personal money we’re talking about.  But their credibility is on the line, and they’re worried about looking bad to their boss, or causing a hassle for their co-workers by making a bad decision.

1) “Borrow” credibility by associating with people and entities your prospects trust.

closing aviation salesEven if they’ve never heard of your company, they’ve heard of NBAA, and Forbes magazine, and your local newspaper, and aviation celebrities.

If you’re a member of an organization, have spoken at an event, been published in a magazine, or been endorsed by a celebrity, don’t keep it a secret!

We like to produce  a “racecar graphic” for our clients, that they can use on their website, brochures, email signature line, and other places.

You’ve worked hard to build relationships and credibility – use them!

2) Invest in the Prospect’s Emotional Bank Account.

closing aviation sales by keeping a positive balance in the emotional bank accountMaking sales is not just about making sales.

Before you can gain someone’s trust, you need to build a positive “balance in their emotional bank account,” to borrow a term from Franklin Covey.

Offer useful information. Make introductions. Keep promises. Overdeliver.

Every “deposit” increases trust and credibility.

  • Provide useful information.
  • Solve a problem.
  • Have positive conversations.
  • Show respect.
  • Make introductions to people they will find interesting and/or helpful.
  • Show a personal interest in the prospect, not just his wallet.
  • Make promises, and deliver on them!

Every “withdrawal” decreases trust and credibility.

You might be unknowingly making withdrawals. This happens every time you

  • Waste the prospect’s time.
  • Start with a “cold call” – without having done any research.
  • Arrive late to a meeting, or don’t call when you say you will.
  • Dress inappropriately.
  • Withhold important information that he would find important.
  • Make promises and break them, or under deliver.

3) Make Time Work In Your Favor

closing aviation sales - make time work in your favor!Some prospects will take awhile to close.  This is why we call aviation “long cycle marketing,” because  some prospects will have to wait for budgets, regulations, approvals, corporate structure changes, and other things outside of our control. The best thing we can do to make time work in our favor are:

  • To make contact early in the process, and stay in touch over time.
  • To keep a full pipeline so different prospects are “coming to fruition” at any given time.
  • To ensure each contact is “branded” so they recognize the pattern of contact.
  • To keep a low-key, low-intensity, low-cost relationship going with lots and lots of people in the industry. (A blog, podcast or newsletter, together with regular salesperson contact, serves this purpose.)

Aviation Sales Basics - Aviation Sales AssociateWe talk in more depth about strategies for closing aviation sales in our Aviation Sales Basics course!

The course includes some systematic information that’s often missing from other sales training opportunities, AND opportunities to interact with some of the most skilled sales and marketing professionals in the aviation industry.

Join us!

Find more information here.


Aviation Sales at Small Specialty Trade Shows

Broadcasting live from Setup Day at the Flight School Association of North America Convention in San Diego, we bring you three tips for improving aviation sales at small specialty trade shows.

Here are three tips for making them successful:

  1. Choose these specialty shows carefully to ensure you’re in a “target rich” environment with lots of your ideal customers in attendance.
  2. Ask show administration about other advertising opportunities for exhibitors and attendees.
  3. Get there early, set up & test, help your neighbors set up! Make friends with the infrastructure people – you’d be surprised how much they can help!


One thing NOT to do (but that everyone seems to do!) is to arrive late and frantic and to be demanding of everyone around them.

Live from the Flight Schedule Pro booth at the Flight School Association of North America conference in beautiful San Diego California,  we talk about small, specialty aviation trade shows and conferences and how to make the most of the marketing opportunities there.

Did you know that John and Martha King are big fans of aviation sales and marketing? Note – after this was filmed, we had the opportunity to spend a little time with John and Martha King, who were featured speakers at a dinner.  They hung around and chatted with attendees, and graciously posed for a photo.

And yes, they are JUST as delightful in person as they are in their videos.

Download our Trade Show Checklist to learn more about how to sell more aviation products and services next year, by attending or exhibiting at aviation trade shows!

New to aviation, or new to sales? 

Check out our Aviation Sales Basics Course – it’s a quick, efficient and FUN way to get up to speed quickly! (And spare you all the mistakes because we’ve made them for you!)

Aviation Sales Basics - Aviation Sales Associate