Category Archives: Sales

Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

There are  as many different organizational structures for sales and marketing teams as there are companies – One thing we’ve learned  consulting with aviation companies is that many different org structures can work either very well or very badly.

It’s more important to get the “right people on the bus” than to get these people organized into the “right seats on the bus.”  Good people tend to make things work, whether it’s “their job” or not.

Whether you’re the boss or the newest, recruit, it can be helpful to know what you’re in for.

Also, although in recent years there has been much buzz about “flat” organizations and some resistance to the very idea of a hierarchy.  We think that’s overrated- it’s essential to have an accountable structure.

We all know that  having a tyrant at the  top is unpleasant and unproductive for everyone.

Blame the tyrant, not the structure!

That said, here are nine of the most popular org structures for sales, marketing and customer service teams, with pros, cons and important tips for success.

Example Org Structure #1 – The Entrepreneur

Org chart 1 Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

Description- Many companies start here. Some stay here by choice as a small consultancy or practice.



Low expenses.  You don’t have to pay anyone. Things tend not to get done.  Sales and marketing tasks are often procrastinated, with disastrous results.
You have absolute authority to make on-the-spot decisions during negotiations. There are no checks and balances to protect you from less-than-wise decisions.
As the company CEO/Founder, you know everything about your products & services. You may not have the experience, skills, training or confidence to be a great salesperson.

Success Factors:

  • Recognize when you are inhibiting your company’s growth by insisting on doing everything yourself.
  • Have a specific plan for when and how to grow.   (i.e. “we will hire a salesperson after we have completed a pilot project with our first customer; projected for August of 2014.” or “we will engage a marketing firm when we reach XX revenues, which is projected for Q3 of 2014.)

Example Org Structure #2 – The Referral Partner

Org chart 2a Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

Sales & Marketing Org Structures- Entrepreneur with Referral Partners

Description – You have a formal or informal marketing program in place and have engaged customers, non-competing complementary companies (a charter company might engage a broker, for example; or a flight school might engage with a college or university) to provide a fee or other benefit in exchange for referring new customers.

Notice the dotted line – these are NOT employees.   Referral partners do NOT present themselves as employees or representatives of your company.

Pros Cons
Your customers are your best salespeople! They are not employees, so you have very limited influence over what they say and do.
They have direct knowledge of what it’s like to work with you. They will only know about their own experience with your company, and may not be aware of other products or services you offer.
Referred clients are a better fit, have a higher trust level, and are easier to work with. Referrals will often expect the same products/services and often prices as the customer that referred them – causing expansion beyond your current offerings to be difficult.
You only have expenditures (referral fees or expenses) when you have income. Referrals come in at irregular intervals, making sales and revenue forecasts difficult at best.
Referrals Some customers are prevented by law or ethical codes to accept referral fees.


Success Factors -

  • Communicate your referral program to your current customers, often.
  • Make your referral process part of your sales and customer service process.
  • Ask for referrals when customers are happiest – (right after realizing the greatest benefit from your product or service.)
  • Be generous with referral fees or bonuses.
  • If your customer can’t accept referral fees, send a gift (such as a fruit basket) that is within the guidelines they set.  Another idea is to make a donation toward a cause that you both support. (We like the Rotary Foundation and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.)

Example Org Structure #3 – Add a Sales Rep

Org chart 3b Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

Sales & Marketing Org Structures- Sales Team

Description – You hire a dedicated salesperson. This is a person that IS an employee or contractor that presents himself or herself as a representative of your company.  We recommend this in addition to, not instead of, any referral programs you have started.

Pros Cons
Someone needs to devote adequate time to researching and following up with each prospect – an absolutely vital task! A salesperson will never have the same credibility as the founder/CEO, some customers will still demand some of the time/attention of the Founder/CEO.  (Experience has shown us that the Founder/CEO, as the public “face” of the company, will never be completely relieved of primary responsibility for sales and marketing!)
Since this person is on the payroll, you have the right and obligation to expect  they will log interactions in your CRM (customer relationship management) system, and lend their expertise and experience they learn from talking with customers to improve marketing materials and processes. You have to remember this person needs to spend most of his or her time with customers.  Any bureaucracy they are required to participate in is time taken away from time spent with customers.
You have an extra “pair of hands” to send to various events. You cannot change the specifications or prices without ensuring that sales people are “in the loop.”
You must spend the time outlining and communicating expectations, and developing an accountability system. If you don’t provide appropriate tools and  accountability process, miscommunications will happen.
Org chart 3amultiples Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

Sales & Marketing Org Structures- Sales Team Expanded

This organization is scalable in several ways.

Success Factors -

  • You can (and should) use commission as part of this person’s compensation package.
  • You can (and should) also pay this person a salary, since you need to place certain demands on his time and require that he or she do things “your way.”  Commission-only agreements with dedicated salespeople are a mistake.  It takes them time to come up to speed on your products and services, and you will need to make certain demands on their time (product training, coordination with marketing, etc.)  that may not directly result in sales and subsequent commissions.

Example Org Structure #4 – Regional Sales Managers

sales team regional Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

Description – When you add more salespeople, you have the challenge of determining who should be managing which prospects and who gets “credit” for which sales.  Organizing by region is  a very traditional way of organizing a sales team, where each has a “territory” divided along geographical lines.

These Regional Sales Managers (or whatever title you give them) may report to a Sales Lead or directly to the Founder/CEO or company leadership.

Pros Cons
This model has been used successfully by very large companies for many years and has the advantage of tradition. It does not accommodate for every situation and can be taken too literally, leading some prospects and opportunities to be ignored or “fall through the cracks.”
This is pretty simple – responsibility for any given prospect is usually very clear, based on where that prospect is located. Each salesperson has different strengths and weaknesses. A company may have a prospect who’s personality or situation would be better served by a different salesperson.
Responsibility and accountability are fairly easy. Looking at a report of sales numbers makes it obvious who is being the most productive. Some areas will have more and better opportunities than others.
Salespeople get to  spend less time (and money!) traveling.
Salespeople get to know the area and the prospects in it really well.

Success Factors - 

  • It may be necessary (and contentious) to “redraw boundaries” from time to time as markets change.
  • It is a good idea to have a process where salespeople can work together and share a commission if one has a more appropriate background, opportunity or circumstance to assist a prospect outside of his “territory.”
  • It’s important to ensure territorial salespeople get isolated or “out of touch” with developments in the company.  Technology can help with this. We use Basecamp for project management and file sharing, Infusionsoft as a CRM (customer relationship management) and GoToMeeting for video conferencing.

Example Org Structure #5 – Salespeople who are Product Specialists

Sales team by product Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

Description – Organizing your sales team by product allows salespeople to become “specialists” on a particular product or product line.

These Product Specialists  (or whatever title you give them) may report to a Sales Lead or directly to the Founder/CEO or company leadership.

Pros Cons
Each salesperson has the opportunity to gain experience and become “expert” on a particular product. This is particularly good for very technical or complex products. “When you’re holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  Your “Product A” expert may not recognize (or have an incentive) to let a prospect know that “Product B” may be a better fit for the circumstance.
 Product specialists will get to know the types of companies that their product fits best.  A deeper knowledge of their needs, problems and concerns will help them sell more effectively. Product Specialists may need to travel more than a more generalized salesperson who is assigned to a particular “territory.”

Success Factors - 

  • As with territorial salespeople, it may be necessary (and contentious) to “redraw boundaries” from time to time as products (or services) evolve.
  • It is a good idea to have a process where salespeople can refer a customer to each other when a a salesperson recognizes a situation that is a better fit for a different product.

Example Org Structure #6 – A Marketing Department

Org chart 4 Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

Description – As a Founder/CEO, you probably have many opportunities to buy an ad, commission a website, or attend a trade show. But you probably don’t have time to research all of these opportunities, pick the best ones, execute them properly, and measure the results.

You may decide that you need an employee to manage all of your marketing efforts (and avoid “Random Acts of Marketing!”)

Pros Cons
A dedicated marketing professional  can devote more time to coordinating marketing efforts It’s rare that a single individual will be have sufficient expertise in trade shows, print ads, direct mail, web sites, social media and all of the other opportunities for marketing.  Your Marketing Lead will be inclined to “lead with his strength” and recommend whichever channel he or she is most experienced and skilled with, regardless of which is the best for your current situation.
A dedicated marketing professional can focus on marketing year-round and create a more complete marketing calendar and plan, making events like trade shows smoother and less reactive. You have the expense of another employee year-round.


A dedicated marketing team can scale up to fit your needs.

Org chart 4a Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

Org chart example with large marketing team – click to enlarge the above image.

Success Factors - 

  • Dedicated employees require a lot of overhead.
  • Our advice – “hire slowly.”  Determine which channels and expertise are really needed on an ongoing basis and worth the expense of dedicated personnel.

Example Org Structure #7 – Sales, Marketing and Customer Service Teams

sales and marketing team Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams Description – With all of the new customers coming in, you need to provide excellent product or service delivery and customer service.  This is key to KEEPING more sales coming in!

We believe that customer service needs to be on equal footing with sales and marketing.  If your Sales Lead and Marketing Lead report directly to the Founder/CEO, so should your Customer Service Lead.

Pros Cons
A Customer Service Lead can spend time devoted to ensuring that each new customer has a great experience. Another dedicated employee requires additional overhead.
This person should work closely with Sales and Marketing to ensure that the customers’ unique needs are understood, and helps develop marketing materials and processes such as referral programs that really suit your customers. Adding another person adds complexity to each decision. The Customer Service person should be included in product specification and pricing decisions, as well as providing information to upgrade products and design new offerings.


All of these teams (sales, marketing and customer service) can be scaled to suit your needs.

Success Factors - 
  • In many organizations, we see Customer Service as a subservient function to Sales and Marketing, or have it separated by a large gap.
  • We’ve found that elevating Customer Service to the same level as Sales and Marketing puts the same emphasis on existing customers as on getting new ones.
  • Referrals are the most cost-effective method of sales, but they absolutely depend on giving your current customers a first-class experience.

Example Org Structure #8 – Adding a Customer Experience Manager

Description – If the Founder/CEO (or company leader, whatever we call you) becomes too busy to manage all three teams, we recommend keeping all three on the same footing by adding a Customer Experience Manager who coordinates the activities of all three teams.

marketing team1 Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

Pros Cons
This frees the CEO/Founder from day-to-day coordination of the three teams. The Founder/CEO doesn’t have as much control over the details of sales, marketing and customer service as he may want.


All of these teams (sales, marketing and customer service) can be scaled to suit your needs.

Success Factors - 
  • There has to be a clear process to escalate appropriate items to the CEO/Founder.
  • This position requires a lot of trust, because the Customer Experience Manager has responsibility for the reputation of the company with past, present and future customers!

More Examples -Outsourcing to ABCI

Description – In many cases, outsourcing marketing (and some Sales and Customer Service tasks) to ABCI makes a lot of sense.

These are some examples of how ABCI has worked successfully with companies of different sizes.

ABCI Reporting Directly to Founder/CEO

marketing team6 Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

In this case, we realize that we need to cover the basics of marketing, sales and customer service between us.

In this situation, we would develop an agreement that works for the time and skills of the individual client, which usually means:

  • ABCI performs and/or automates most marketing tasks.
  • ABCI provides assistance with some sales tasks (identifying most probably prospects, outlining suggested next steps, etc.)
  • ABCI provides some automation of customer service tasks, such as a Tip of the Week email, a New Customer welcome package with literature and how-to-videos, etc.
  • The CEO/Founder is responsible for making sales calls.
  • The CEO/Founder is responsible for providing hands-on product delivery and customer service.

marketing team abci referral partners Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

This variation is one of the first improvements we make as your company grows – to establish and manage a referral process.

marketing team5 Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

In this variation, we work with your new or existing sales team. ABCI manages the marketing system, which  generates leads for the sales team. We also provide sales orchestration service, such as mystery calls, accountability reporting, outlines and checklists.

marketing team3 Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

In this variation, we work with your new or existing sales team AND your Customer Service team to ensure all customer-facing materials and interactions are coordinated.  ABCI manages the marketing system, which  generates leads for the sales team, and materials and automated functions for the Customer Service Team as well.

outsource Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

In this variation, ABCI reports to the person responsible for the total customer experience. This positions us to provide all of the benefits of a marketing system, sales support, and customer service automation.

Master Class Eight Org Structures for Sales & Marketing Teams

Some companies already have the perfect sales, marketing and customer service team in place.

We can improve performance by providing real-world examples and timely coaching on key topics for sales and marketing professionals in the aviation industry.  Why  reinvent the wheel when you can learn from other companies about what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what’s changing in the aviation market?

Speaking of the Master Class . . .

We will discuss org structures, commission agreements, and some of the other thorny issues at the intersection of sales, marketing and customer service in this month’s Marketing Master Class!

Not a member?  Join us today!

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NBAA Trade Show 2013 – Registration Opened this week – Download Your Updated Checklist!

trade show checklist2013 229x300 NBAA Trade Show 2013   Registration Opened this week   Download Your Updated Checklist!

Complete the form below to download your copy today!

NBAA Trade Show 2013 – The NBAA Annual Convention Registration opened last week.

The “big show” in aviation marketing is not until October, so you may be thinking you have plenty of time.

Think again!

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the years we’ve been creating marketing campaigns for aviation companies, it’s this:

It’s never too early to start planning your next trade show appearance!

Trade shows are more expensive and more sophisticated than they used to be.  For that reason, getting a good return on your investment of attending (or exhibiting) at a show is also more difficult than it used to be!

Simply “being there” is no longer enough.

It takes a lot of “behind the scenes” work to get the attention of the right prospective customers, represent your company professionally, build relationships, and create the foundation for future sales.

We’re offering a brief preview of what we do for our clients, download our updated Trade Show Checklist.



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An Election Where Your Vote Really Counts

Election 2012 300x230 An Election Where Your Vote Really CountsI was talking with a friend the other day about the dearth of good choices in the elections in the U.S. this year.

We were also commiserating about the fact that, depending on what state you live in, your vote will have more or less impact.

However, we’re both voting. We both agreed that in spite of everything else, being a citizen requires our participation.

Whether or not you’re currently a member of our Aviation Sales & Marketing Coaching Program, we promise that your vote will count, and the results of  THIS election will make a big difference.

We cover one topic in depth each month, with a  30 page (approx) workbook, a live webinar where participants can ask questions and get assistance with their most difficult sales & marketing questions.  We record the webinars and send DVDs to registered members.   Some of our members get credit for the class as continuing education for professional credentials they hold.

Our topics for the remainder of 2013 -

October    Using Social Media for Marketing
November    Referral Marketing
December    Educating = Selling

Topics we’re considering for 2013 – (In randomized order!)

  •     In-Person Sales Presentations
  •     Capitalizing on Controversy Without Being A Jerk
  •     Statistics, Measurements & Return on Investment (ROI) for Marketing
  •     Direct Mail – The Power of Snail Mail
  •     Time Management for Sales Marketing Teams
  •     Why Random Acts of Marketing Don’t Work
  •     Construction of a Marketing Funnel – and why it’s required!
  •     Sales Accountability
  •     Planning a Marketing Calendar
  •     Investing in Marketing Content – Using Ebooks, Books & Articles
  •     Information Packages – How to Use Them, What Goes In Them, etc.
  •     Your Sales Process & Your Marketing System – Like Peanut Butter & Jelly
  •     PR & Reputation Management
  •     Joint (Co-operative) Marketing Campaigns
  •     Working with the Press
  •     Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
  •     Podcasting as a Marketing Tool
  •     Using Video for Marketing
  •     Qualifying Prospects- Determining Where to Spend Your Time and Resources
  •     Overcoming Sales Phobia (or, Everybody is Selling Something)
  •     Content Marketing – What the Heck Do I Write About?
  •     How to Know When You Need a Dedicated Salesperson/Staff
  •     Sales Presentations
  •     Effective Trade Show Campaigns
  •     Planning a Marketing Campaign

As you can see, we have many more topics than there are months in 2013.  Which is why we need your help.

Please take a moment and answer our quick survey. We appreciate your time, and you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are a responsible member of the aviation business community who has influenced the world for the better.

P.S. to join our Aviation Sales & Marketing Coaching program, subscribe with the yellow button below or learn more.


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There is no contract, so you may withdraw at any time. Your satisfaction is unconditionally guaranteed.

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What Should I Write About? Ten ways to solve writer’s block

writers block 400 300x202 What Should I Write About? Ten ways to solve writers blockWhen we advise clients to write a blog or newsletter, they usually have no problem understanding the reasons for this.

They fully realize the benefits of communicating regularly.

  • It takes repeated contacts over a period of time to build a relationship with new prospective clients.
  • It can take awhile for a new potential client to have the opportunity to buy, and you need reasons to stay connected so they remember you and have your contact information nearby when the opportunity finally materializes.
  • You want to stay in front of old customers, so they remember you when they have an opportunity to buy again or make a referral.

While they often understand the REASONS for writing regularly, they have trouble finding topic ideas.

“I don’t have that much to write about.” or “There’s not that much to say about our particular business.”

Wrong on both counts.

Most people don’t realize what they actually know, and how useful that is to people who are outside of their profession.

One of the first things I ask new clients to do is to make a list of the most frequently asked questions their customers have, or problems they have. What are the reasons prospective clients contact you in the first place?  What are the particular symptoms of the problems you help them solve?

If you can give good, basic advice and put it in a place where it’s likely to be found by people who happen to be looking for that particular bit of information,  (via Search Engine Optimization, of course!)   you accomplish two things – you make contact with people who are likely prospects for your product or service; and you establishing yourself as an authority on the subject.

An objection that frequently comes up at this point is this:

“If I tell them how to solve a problem, they won’t need to hire me!”

Once again, there are two answers for that. First, they won’t hire you anyway if they don’t know you exist or don’t have any reason to believe that you know your subject; and second, people (and companies) usually have more complex problems than can be solved with a 500-word article.

Most of them will want more customized, specific help.  And if people can solve problems on their own after reading a short article, it’s possible that you’re not adding enough value to justify your product or service.

Here are ten ways to find great, helpful topics for your clientele:

  1. Write an article based on a question customers or prospective customers frequently ask about your product or service. (We’ve already mentioned this one, but it counts as one of the ten, right?) icon smile What Should I Write About? Ten ways to solve writers block
  2. Mention a recent trade show appearance or speaking engagement, and something you learned or something that happened there.
  3. Write about related businesses (partners, vendors and so on) and talk about your relationship with them – what works well, how it adds value for YOUR customers.
  4. Find a news article in a trade publication that your customers read  (like Aviation Week, Plane & Pilot or Airport Business) that relates to your area of expertise.  (Association publications like NBAA, AOPA and EAA are great for this purpose as well!)  Explain how you would have prevented or solved a problem before it became “news.”
  5. Use a metaphor. Find an article, current event, or example NOT related to your area of expertise and use it to explain your product or service.  I like the way that Mark Leeper explains our new client process as “the Mayo Clinic of Aviation Marketing” because we run a series of tests, do our research, discuss our diagnosis, and THEN create a treatment plan.  He uses this metaphor to explain the difference between ABCI and other marketing companies that simply write a prescription for marketing materials  or a website and quote a price without really understanding the “patient,” the problem or the objective.
  6. Write an interview or feature story about a client.   Talk about your relationship with them and how your company makes their company better for THEIR clients.  (Some clients will love free publicity, some will be reticent.  You probably have a good feel for this from working with them, but most people will be flattered to be asked to be interviewed.)
  7. Write a demo or create a video tutorial about a key feature of your product or service.
  8. Write a feature about a charity you work with.   Explain what good work they do and why you chose them.
  9. Write about an upcoming event – highlight why you’re attending and invite potential customers to see you there for an evaluation or discussion about their situation.
  10.  Use humor.  If you see a great cartoon that relates to your business, ask for permission from the copyright holder to use it in your newsletter. (Sometimes they’ll want a small fee.)  Or commission a cartoon, tell a joke or a funny story, or refer to a funny video on YouTube.  Always attribute appropriately. Funny stories or videos stand the best chance of “going viral” or being passed from person to person.

If you have ever found yourself in need of article ideas, print THIS article out and post it on your bulletin board.

And of course, you can always call ABCI (480-225-4233)  if you need more customized, specific assistance!


 What Should I Write About? Ten ways to solve writers block


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Packaging Basics for the Aviation Industry

Toolboxphoto1 300x168 Packaging Basics for the Aviation Industry
Whether you sell a product or service, you can “package” it in a way that enhances the value. We send our Marketing Toolbox to consulting clients so that they have reference materials at their fingertips.

In the aviation industry, we know that our customers are smarter than average.

Our products also tend to be more complex and technical, and have fewer natural competitors than the typical consumer product. Many aviation products and services are sold to businesses, rather than to individual consumers. Also, products are often sold online or at trade shows, rather than in a physical store.

Perhaps these are the reasons that people marketing and selling aviation products and services tend to overlook the basic marketing principles of merchandising and packaging products and services.

Of course, as marketing professionals, we cringe at this inattention because we know that packaging is such a vital part of the marketing process.

We’ve seen aviation products handed over the counter in a plastic baggie, or in no packaging at all.  We’ve heard of service clients that receive no physical object from their service provider, except for an invoice.  They don’t even get an instruction sheet or a pen!

The problem with this inattention to packaging is that people who buy aviation products and services are just that – people!

As anyone who has ever walked into a  high-end car dealership knows, there is a lot that goes into the buying decision besides sheer practicality of finding the best solution for the current problem. Even very smart, practical people don’t buy the cheapest car that will reliably get us to work, the cheapest shoes, or the cheapest sandwich on the menu for lunch.

We buy things for many reasons, but among them are these:

  • We encounter them in a place where we are spending time anyway.  (This is why we spend $6 for a glass of iced tea in the airport!)
  • An eyecatching display captures our attention.
  • The packaging is informative  and gives us visual clues about the quality of the product inside, and the attention to detail of the company that produced it. We may not even realize that we’re intellectually processing this information, but anyone who has ever unpacked a new product from Apple or Keurig (the coffee maker people) have experienced very sophisticated packaging design.
  • The package includes the information and accessories we are likely to need while using the product.  Some effort has been expended to anticipate our needs.

If you’re charging a premium price for your product or service, it is well worth the time and effort to ensure the packaging and merchandising is at the level expected by consumers in this price range.

Even services can be packaged!

If you sell a service, you can (and should) create thoughtful physical package that includes information in several formats, perhaps a DVD or book on the topic on the subject of your expertise, a related accessory, and a small thank you gift for making the purchase.

This way a person who purchases your service leaves your office with something in his hands after making a purchase.  (Or receives it in the mail.)  The package provides useful information, prevents buyer’s remorse or second thoughts as questions come up, and starts the relationship off on the right foot.

In our consulting practice, we’ve learned what questions come up most often. We have put together our Aviation Marketing Toolbox over the last few years. It includes CDs and reference materials on the most popular topics in aviation marketing and sales.

As a personal touch, we’ve added a small notebook and pen for great marketing ideas, imprinted with our contact information to make it convenient for our clients to get in touch with us anytime.

Give some thought to the physical packaging and merchandising of your product or service. It can make a difference the way your product is perceived, and can improve sales, repeat sales and referrals!

 Packaging Basics for the Aviation Industry

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Introducing our Sales Coaching Program

mustang 300x115 Introducing our Sales Coaching ProgramGreat athletes, high-performance pilots, and great salespeople have coaches that help them reach optimal levels of performance. Let us customize a program to help you ascend to new heights!

Here’s our program.

Open Flight Plan

1. Establish Sales Goals

  • Know Where You’re Going
  • Know Your Numbers
  • Crew/Cockpit Resource Management
    (The people responsible for reaching those numbers!)

2. Inventory  Your Assets  (Fuel on Board)

  • Existing Customers
  • Red Hot Leads
  • Top Ten Wish List
  • Cold Prospects
  • Newly Generated Leads from ABCI Marketing

Ground School  (Aviate, Navigate, Communicate!)

1.  Inventory  Your Assets  (Fuel on Board)

  • Sales Attitude
  • Accountability
  • Action

2. Develop Sales Presentation – Value Statement

  • Sales Presentation Techniques
  • Handling Objections
  • Closing Techniques

3. Phone Sales Training

  • Plan, Prepare and Practice
  • Asking Questions and Listening
  • Cold Call Training
  • Using Voice Mail/Email To Your Advantage

4. Follow Up

  • CRM Training

MARK ABCI PHOTO 300x225 Introducing our Sales Coaching ProgramDual Instruction (Refining Your Control Touch Skills)

1. Dual Instruction – Live Sales Presentation Practice
2.  Dual Instruction – Live Phone Sales Presentation Practice

Closing the Flight Plan, or Analyzing the Cockpit Voice Recorder

  • Evaluating what went right, and/or debriefing after the crash!

Accountability Process

  • Weekly/Bi Weekly Debriefing

Our Sales Coaching Program is available as part of our Marketing Consulting Packages, or as a standalone.

Call Mark Leeper at 480-225-4233 for more information, or download our free Sales Process Ebook – Getting Sales Off the Ground.

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Sales and Customer Service – Style, Substance, or Both?

waiters 300x199 Sales and Customer Service   Style, Substance, or Both?

Smiling and being attentive is no substitute for actually listening to customers and getting “orders” right. whether you’re a waiter, an FBO, an insurance agent, or a consulting professional.

Last week after our webinar with Ryan Keough on Customer Service, my husband and I went out to lunch.

Now, this is not really remarkable in and of itself, we do it often.   However, it struck me that the restaurant was banking on the style of their sales and customer service, but not the substance.

This happens in sales and marketing as well – people concentrate on technique, delivery, smiling at the right time, saying the right words, and so on, without actually LISTENING to what the customer says and DELIVERING on promises.  (Does it sound like a rant is coming on?)

So, John ordered a sandwich on wheat bread, with regular fries (not this restaurant’s particular crunchy fries) and I ordered tilapia with rice and broccoli.  (I asked first if they had broccoli, and confirmed the tilapia came with rice.)

Our server smiled and carefully wrote down our order (or appeared to be carefully writing down our order) and went off to give our order to the cook. So far, so good.

She came back once to ask my husband if he’d ordered regular fries or crunchy fries.  Fine.  He repeated that he wanted regular fries.

When our food came out, John received a sandwich on white bread with crunchy fries.  I got tilapia with mashed potatoes and garlic bread.  For some reason, this struck us as funny.  We looked at each other and burst out laughing.  We were amused, not upset. Our server took this the entirely wrong way.  The manager immediately came out and asked if everything was okay.  We just laughed about the fact that this was like dinner at home with parents when we were kids. You could ask for whatever you wanted, but you were getting whatever was being served that night.

“It’s not a problem.”   We said, but explained the difference in the orders.  They quickly returned with an order of regular fries and a side of broccoli.

Now, our server was friendly, the manager was responsive, most of our problems were solved, we eventually got most of what we had wanted, and all was right with the world in a customer-service sort of way, right?

Yes and no.

There were four things delivered that were not as specified. (White bread vs. wheat, crunchy vs. plain fries, potatoes instead of rice, and garlic bread rather than broccoli.)  One thing, fine. Two things, maybe. Three things or more and you begin to wonder what is really going on in that kitchen,  or in the server’s head.  It’s obviously not our preferences of what we wanted for lunch!

This happens a lot when dealing with sales and customer service people. They are trained to respond with a smile, to say the right words, to be pleasant no matter what happens, but few are trained or empowered to actually listen and make changes based on a customer’s specifications, or to stand up to a customer and explain that they’re out of broccoli, or rice, or wheat bread, or non-crunchy fries.  Nobody was confirming our order, (she actually confirmed it inaccurately) and nobody checked the accuracy of what came out of the  kitchen.   This is putting the emphasis on the wrong part of the equation.

This is not a big deal in a restaurant, unless someone had an allergy or a real problem with a particular food item, but people in the demographic that purchase aviation products are folks that would sooner overlook someone that wasn’t perfectly polite or friendly, as long as they can be counted on to “get the order right” and not to cause a delay,  or worse.

We spend a lot of time evaluating our customers’ sales and marketing needs before we make recommendations, and we customize our products and service levels based on their needs and preferences.   Granted, the dollar amounts are much higher than lunch, but the principals are the same.   We have to do a lot of active listening, and not just acting like we’re listening when we’re really working on the phrasing of the next thing we’re going to say.

When Mark (our sales consultant)  coaches clients on their sales presentations, he concentrates on the same factors. Delivering a polished sales performance is important but incidental to knowing the product and showing respect for the prospects’ time. The most important thing is making accurate recommendations, and “getting the order right.”   Making sure that you understand the prospects’ needs, desires and preferences well enough to make good recommendations, knowing the product you’re selling well enough to know whether it will be a good fit, creatively synthesizing solutions if it’s not, and delivering exactly what was expected.  No surprises.  No crunchy fries.

Style shouldn’t substitute for substance. If you can’t manage both, get the substance right!

 Sales and Customer Service   Style, Substance, or Both?

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Setting Realistic Expectations with Customers

cutterav 300x202 Setting Realistic Expectations with Customers

Cutter Aviation is well-known for outstanding customer service. Part of their strategy for making that happen is setting realistic expectations.

In yesterdays Coaching Program Webinar, Ryan Keough of Cutter Aviation  was our guest instructor.

We were talking about the difference between people that write the textbooks on customer service and people that are eyeball to eyeball with real customers every day. Or” mouse to website,” or phone to phone, or email to email.

At any rate, the textbooks don’t always cover the reality of customer service.
“The customer is always right” is a nice thought, but in reality, there are some limitations to what we can and should offer our customers.  Sometimes requests fall outside the boundaries of what can reasonably done, given the realities of safety, regulations, finances, and logistics.

There is often tension between marketing, sales and customer service.  If marketing materials or a salesperson promise the sun, the moon and the stars to “make the deal,” customer service people must then deliver on those promises.

Ryan cited the very funny (and very popular) xtranormal video Lear Jet Captain. You may have seen it making the rounds on Facebook or Twitter, but if you haven’t, here it is.

The excellent point Ryan made was that customers sometimes walk in the door with unrealistic expectations.

Since these conditions can’t possibly be met, it leads to frustration and resentment on both sides.  That frustration and resentment can’t help but spill over onto other customers and other transactions as there are delays and expense in trying (and failing) to deliver the impossible.

Marketing and salespeople need to understand that setting realistic expectations might lose a few sales for them in the short run, but it will help their personal reputation for honesty (an absolute must in today’s sales climate) as well as their organization’s reputation for meeting (or exceeding!) expectations.

Some ways to set appropriate expectations with prospective clients and customers:

  • Collect and use accurate data.  Report accurate service times, success rates and other data in your marketing materials. Make sure these are verified and current.
  • Ask your prospective client what results he expects, and over what timeframe.  Let him know before the purchase if his expectations are out of line, and provide reasons.
  • Give references and show testimonials.   The reactions of other people improve your credibility because they are real people talking about their real experiences with your company.

Ryan’s tip -  Politely hold your ground. Don’t cave in and scramble for a customer that’s completely  unrealistic.   Losing a customer is sometimes a necessary and reasonable outcome of doing business.  Sometimes it’s just not a good fit.

This is in line with the philosophy of long cycle marketing – although you may lose a customer or a sale in the short run, those watching or affected by your decisions are more likely to be a good fit, and refer other customers who are a good fit for your particular product or service.

The textbooks will never tell you that!

 Setting Realistic Expectations with Customers

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Nothing Happens Till Somebody Sells Something!

idle airplanes 300x225 Nothing Happens Till Somebody Sells Something!

Without sales and marketing, planes and people sit idle.

We’ve seen the necessity of good marketing and good salesmanship first hand in the last couple of years.

When the economy is good, a company can do well with the following:

  • A good product (it didn’t have to be great.)
  • A decent advertisement or appearance at a trade show (it didn’t have to be particularly imaginative or effective, and results didn’t have to be measured.)
  • A salesperson or salespeople that mainly took orders.  No great product knowledge, extraordinary perseverance, of sales skill, was required.

Post 2006, however, things have changed.  We’ve seen good companies with good products go out of business.

When sales don’t happen, factories shut down.  A & P mechanics, pilots, dispatchers and receptionists might as well stay home.  Flight instructors find jobs delivering pizzas between lessons.  Warehouses full of product gather dust.  Airplanes languish in hangars, (or worse, outdoors) depreciating, pointlessly leaking insurance money and storage fees. Even caterers and janitors suffer.

salesebook 236x300 Nothing Happens Till Somebody Sells Something!
It doesn’t have to be that way.

We understand the value aviation brings to every other industry and to recreation and quality of life. Aviation gets people and things where they need to be quickly, helping companies be more competitive and serve their customers better.

Great salespeople and skilled marketing can bring energy, life, money and power back to an important industry.

It’s simply a matter of matching the right customer (that has the need and the ability to pay) with the value proposition and communicating in a meaningful way.

With our sales consultant, Mark Leeper, we’ve created a new ebook. Download it now!

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Sales Presentations – The Live Coaching Session

Adobe 300x140 Sales Presentations   The Live Coaching SessionWe had our first live coaching session today, and in spite of a thousand things that could have gone wrong, I’m always amazed at how things have a way of working out for the best.

We had a three hour power outage the morning of the session and I thought we’d be on a noisy generator.   Mark Leeper, our sales consultant, had a cable modem go bad on him this morning.  But the power came back on, the Internet spirits cooperated, and we had a great session.

In fact, one of our members (Taylor Greenwood) dropped out of the session for a bit.  He told me later that he had to leave the session to take a call from a prospective client that is now an “actual” client that he’d been pursuing for awhile.   (I’m sure he used some of the techniques he learned from the session!)

If you missed it, here are a few notes -

Mark shared his (very different) perspective of marketing – emphasizing  great sales presentations – in person and on the phone.

Here’s his formula for sales success:

  1. Attitude
  2. Accountability
  3. Action

Most people gloss over attitude as “soft” skills and want to get right to technique, but attitude is usually the difference between success and failure for salespeople – probably more than any other profession, except maybe professional athletes.  Prospective clients can tell if you don’t have their best interest at heart. It’s not about manipulation, it’s about finding the best solution for the client, which sometimes is financially rewarding, and sometimes not. But always rewarding.

Accountability becomes a problem for people in small companies or entrepreneurs who do their own sales tasks.  Mark suggests that you find someone to be accountable to, just as having a lifting partner at the gym will make it more likely that you show up and give your best effort; rather than simply dropping in casually when you feel like it.Mark makes regular appointments with his sales manager and accounts for every lead, every day. He emphasized that being responsive in the sales process sets the tone of the whole business. If you can’t get back to someone on a regular basis in the sales process, they assume you won’t be responsive with customer service, either.

Action is about moving past all the psychology and technique and  getting it done.   “You can’t steer a parked car.” And you can’t perfect your sales technique while you’re safe in a classroom or in your office or in your home reading textbooks about sales.  You have to get toe-to-toe, or at least ear-to-ear, with customers to make sales.

Mark also provided specific techniques for getting in touch with the decision-maker, working with gatekeepers (rather than having them work against you)   and effectively using voice mail.  He even suggested ways to get the client to make 70% of the sales presentation himself.  And how to avoid leaving loose ends after a sales call or meeting.

He answered questions about using scripts, how often to call back, and setting yourself up to try again later when a prospect declines.

If you missed it, we’ll be sending the video and audio files to our Aviation Sales & Marketing Coaching Members.

Now that we’re comfortable with our  new technology and format, I’m really looking forward to February’s session – February 8th at 1:30 MST we have another great guest instructor who will answer your questions about applications, mobile apps, inventory systems, e commerce and other technology and how they can add a lot of horsepower to a marketing plan.

Not a member?

Join now!

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