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Sell the dreamSell the dream

Between finding and gathering prospects, evaluating a person’s interest and ability to buy, and finishing the deal, people who sell airplanes have it down to a science. Once a company knows a person is definitely interested in a model and able to buy, one of the biggest weapons a company has is selling the dream and the lifestyle.

While this is most common among high-end business jets, every manufacturer does it to some extent. Sure they talk about performance and cost, but what they really sell is what the jet can do. A prospect will mention that he has to go to Paris for a meeting, and the company will take him there—for free. In this way, the prospect gets to see the airplane in its element.

Selling flight training should be no different. Our equivalent opportunity to show what aviation can do is on the introductory flight. Seizing this opportunity to show how aviation can change someone’s life is the best way to grab their attention and possibly turn them from prospect to student. Here’s how:

  • Interview the prospect. Interviewing a prospect doesn’t have to take long, and the questions can be very broad. In the course of conversation, ask things such as, “Why do you want to learn to fly?” This will let you know the prospect’s motivation for walking in the door. Ask, “What do you think is possible with aviation?” Knowing this can help either expand their horizons or bring them back in line with reality.
  • Strategize a flight that meets their needs. By knowing why someone wants to fly, you can turn the sales pitch directly to their motivation. For example, if someone says they want to fly to take their family on vacation, offer to have the prospect’s spouse ride along and actually go somewhere. It doesn’t have to be far. Just pick a place that offers something new or exciting. Or maybe the prospect is a younger person interested in aerobatics. Go out and do steep turns and show them some fun.

Regardless of what you do, remember that training is simply a means to an end. People don’t generally learn to fly just to learn something new. They learn because they want to go somewhere, see something, or be part of a community. Regardless of their motivation, it’s up to you to show them how your flight school can get them to where they want to go. Showing a flight training prospect how to preflight an airplane on an introductory flight would be like showing the CEO the hydraulic system on a business jet. There’s time for that later. But for now, you want to sell the dream and the lifestyle.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.

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