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CRM: Not just for cockpits anymoreCRM: Not just for cockpits anymore

Most of you are familiar with CRM, or crew resource management. It is a crew training and leadership concept developed in the late 1970s with the help of a NASA workshop and is utilized by all pilots who fly commercially with other team members in the cockpit.

In other industries, the letters CRM often take on another meaning—customer relationship management, which refers to a software platform or other organized system of managing the lifecycle of a prospect or customer in your business.

In a previous article, I scratched the surface of why follow-up is important, and that not everyone who will start flight training with you will do so right away. Some who start with you will need time, attention, patience, process, and professionalism from your school to begin flight training. I believe most flight schools in America are ill equipped to handle the segment of business that takes a while to get started. Many schools simply believe this segment doesn’t exist and that only “instant-starts” are worthwhile prospects.

The net result is that a great many flight schools are not ready or willing to follow up once, twice, or even three times with a bona fide prospect. I’ll cover more about who a bona fide prospect is later.

Let’s take a closer look at CRM. Modern CRM platforms go by names like ACT, Salesforce, Gold Mine, and Siebel. While some platforms continue to be locally based applications that install on your hard drive or server, many are now cloud based. For those of you new to this term, “cloud based” simply means that all data and application features are run through your Internet browser or mobile device and the data is stored on the CRM provider’s servers. In cloud-based applications, little or no data is stored on your computer or device’s hard drive.

The single biggest advantage to using a CRM platform is your ability to keep and maintain a contemporaneous record of your sales and customer service activities with a given customer or prospect. Many flight schools have a number of platforms that govern how they interact with customers for asset scheduling and financial transactions. Most schools, at this time, do not have a method for tracking the sales process for a given prospect. Without a system that shows you the interactive history with a customer, your team may find themselves starting halfway through the movie each time they reach out to that customer or prospect.

A CRM platform addresses this continuity problem within your team and allows you to be efficient in the way that you handle new prospects who do not start right away.

In the next article, I will detail best practices for utilizing CRM as well as how to manage the flow of prospect data in CRM.

P. Jerry Lee is president and founder of aviation marketing and sales training firm Mach1 Consultants.

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