How do I Hire a Great Aviation Salesperson?

John and I talk about the three factors we’ve found that ensure an aviation salesperson will be able to get up to speed quickly, make successful relationships and sales, and start earning his or her keep.

The best aviation marketing in the world will get you great leads and build an environment and tools for connecting with the right people to help your business succeed.
Of course aviation sales is very different from retail and other types of sales.  We have longer sales cycles, smaller pools of prospective customers, and more specific and complex products and services.
But when it really comes down to it, most aviation transactions are complex, and customers need human interaction to get their problems addressed and questions answered so that they’re comfortable actually making the purchase.
So, skilled, professional, courteous salespeople (or people who have sales tasks as part of their role) are absolutely essential.
What makes the difference between an aviation salesperson that gets great results quickly, and one that struggles to close sales?
You might have a list of items specific to your company and preferences- someone with specific experience or connections, or someone who has completed a sales training program, like Pacific Institute, Dale Carnegie, or Sandler Sales.
But we’ve found that while the above factors are great, there really successful aviation salespeople have three things in common:
  • They have sold SOMETHING before
  • They have documented their results
  • They have a passion for learning new things

Why are these things important?

Have Sold SOMETHING Before

It doesn’t matter so much what he or she has sold, selling ANYTHING successfully is  great indicator of future sales success with other products or services.
Someone who has worked in a family business doing person-to-person sales, or even in a youth program, even selling Girl Scout cookies, has a huge advantage.
It shows that this person has no fear of approaching people, in person or on the phone.  It shows that they don’t have a disdain for sales or marketing that sometimes comes across as  shifty or slippery.  And it shows that they can be enthusiastic about a product.

Has Documented His or Her Results

We’re not looking for a 99% turn rate here, but we’re looking for someone who has followed a process of documenting each approach and each step in the sales process.
Some salespeople have used a CRM (customer relationship management) tool like Salesforce, Infusionsoft, or Sugar, or whether they’ve used a spreadsheet or handwritten log.  The tools they used matter less than the fact that they can show you their numbers and progress.
Someone who is used to the discipline of documenting results will remember a large number of prospects and the details of each interaction.  They’ll be contributing the the body of knowledge your company has about your prospects.
And they’ll “know their numbers,” and know how many approaches it takes to move a person to the next stage of the sales process. This helps you, as the sales manager or CEO, project revenues based on sales activity.

Has a Passion for Learning New Things

My son’s Tae Kwon Do teacher had a parable he used with the teenage boys who would come to their first class all excited after having seen a martial arts movie. These kids often wanted to skip all the “boring” basics and go straight to the good stuff like breaking a board or a spinning tornado kick.
Master Jung would sit these kids down and tell them this story.
“There was once a rich man who had been very successful and was well respected.  He had achieved everything he had ever set out to do and was looking for his next achievement.
He heard that there was a guru at the top of a nearby mountain that knew all the secrets of the universe.  This successful man decided that he would go learn from this guru so that he would also know all the secrets of the universe. So, he went to the nearby sporting goods supply store and bought the latest gear.  The next weekend he climbed the mountain.
He found the wise guru and told him how successful he was, and that he deserved to learn all the secrets of the universe.
The guru said, ‘fine, but first let’s have tea.’
So, they sat down to have tea.  The guru poured for the rich man.  He slowly filled the cup, but then kept pouring.  Tea spilled over the brim, out onto the table, and onto the floor. It was dripping on the rich man’s expensive hiking clothes.
‘Stop, you fool!’ he said. ‘I thought you were a wise man, but can’t you even see that the cup is already full?’
‘Yes, I can see that the cup is already full. That’s why I can’t teach you the secrets of the universe, you already think you know everything.  Come back to me with an empty cup, and we’ll talk.'”
If your new salesperson already “knows everything,” he won’t be curious about  your company, your products and services, and more importantly, your prospective customers.
Many sales managers hire the most experienced, accomplished person they can find with the most credentials after their name and the most impressive resumé.
But customers are more impressed with attention and a great listener than with someone who is very impressive but uninterested in them and their problems.
Someone who is willing to read, listen, and ask questions almost invariably makes a better salesperson than someone with the most stellar bona fides.

The Bottom Line

Hiring a salesperson that has successfully sold something, who has a history of documenting sales results, and a passion for learning new things is the very best way to ensure your new hire will be a great addition, will build great realtionships with new potential customers, and make more sales.

Sales Managers – What Do You Think?

Aviation SalespersonWe’d love to hear YOUR list – What are YOU looking for?
We have created a survey and award random Starbucks cards to thank you for your time, but we’d love to hear your opinions about how to make your sales hires successful more quickly.
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