Aviation Business Consultants International (ABCI) has released a new online aviation sales course, designed by and for aviation industry professionals.
“Much of the advice from traditional sales courses is not helpful for aviation industry professionals, and some of it can actually be harmful,” said President Paula Williams. “Aviation sales typically have long transaction cycles, large and complex transactions with multiple players, a limited number of well-insulated prospects for specific products and services, and a number of other challenges. It’s important that salespeople have skills and strategies to address those challenges.”
Traditional sales training, particularly training that emphasizes hype or pressure-filled “closing techniques,” can alienate prospects in the aviation industry, she noted.
An emphasis on respecting the prospect’s time and intelligence is key to a successful salesperson in aviation, she added.
“Finding skilled salespeople is one of the most difficult challenges we face as a company,” said longtime ABCI client David Santo. “Great marketing will take you only so far. For most transactions, a lot of human interaction with a skilled salesperson has to take place.”
Citing an economy that has not fully recovered for the industry since 2009, growing international competition, and higher expectations of customers, ABCI founders John and Paula Williams launched a survey last year to gauge needs and interest among aviation sales managers and young professionals in the industry.
The survey indicated that aviation companies tend to select aviation professionals with no sales experience for sales jobs. They prefer someone who already has industry vocabulary and product knowledge.
Choosing someone with industry knowledge is a good decision, because people who have worked as pilots, mechanics, product designers, or engineers have an intrinsic credibility in the industry, but sales skills are also important, company officials said.
“Many times those very skilled and knowledgeable people are also incredibly uncomfortable with basic sales tasks like handling inquiries, follow up calls, and sales presentations,” Paula Williams said. “These things can be taught using tools that are already widely used in the industry, like checklists and role playing or ‘hangar flying.’”
The online aviation sales course is divided into three modules:
- An 11-hour Aviation Sales Basics, which offers an Aviation Sales Associate certificate;
- An eight-hour Aviation Sales Relationships, which offers an Aviation Sales Professional certificate; and
- A 10-hour Aviation Sales Systems, which offers an Aviation Sales Master certificate.
All courses are offered online and can be completed as the student has available time. Each module includes a short video followed by an interactive activity, such as a quiz or task to be completed.
At the end of each of the three modules, the student must complete a final task, such as a sales call or interview, interacting live with a faculty member via GoToMeeting.
“We’re looking forward to the day when most aviation sales professionals are as skilled and comfortable as salespeople in other industries,” said Williams. “That will help these companies and this industry thrive.”