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.
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.
Even 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.
Making 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
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.)
We 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.