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Get emotional about salesGet emotional about sales

Developing your individual sales technique and that of your staff is vital when trying to convince potential students who walk through your doors to plunk down big bucks for training. Just because you have the best CFIs and support personnel around doesn’t mean they know how to properly sell flight training.

Given that many flight instructors come to the profession as pilots and not salesmen, staff training in sales should be mandatory whether on site or through a seminar. Regardless of the venue, the intent is to help your staff develop their personal sales technique.

Have you ever noticed that no matter what car lot you go to, you can expect the same spiel from the salesman who approaches you? Even though you say you’re “just looking,” the next thing you know, you’re breezing along in that shiny new car because the salesman tossed you the keys “just for fun.” As you’re enjoying the smooth ride and power behind the wheel the salesman is sizing you up and exploring how best to direct his pitch. If you have a family he’ll likely point out the safety features, and he’ll demonstrate the heated seats if it’s a cold and wintry day.

Although you may not have realized it at the time, you’ve already employed this very same sales technique by offering an introductory flight to a prospective student who walked through your doors. Getting the prospect in the air to see his dream of flying come to fruition is a powerful emotional tool. But back in the office does your staff know how to close the deal? Studies show that if you aren’t able to secure a new customer before they walk out your door, they are 35 percent less likely to return.

Whether it’s a free 30-day subscription offer, a new techno gadget placed in your hands, or the car salesman who seems happy to spend his time tootling around town with you, rest assured that these skilled professionals have mastered how to turn a tire kicker into a buyer. Their sales ploys are strategic and based upon proven psychological social marketing, starting with two universal sales principles.

  • Gain trumps loss—Placing a coveted item into a prospect’s hands elicits feelings of power and success; taking it away leaves them feeling vulnerable and defeated.
  • Involve the senses—Touch, taste, and smell elicits emotions; studies prove that an emotional buyer is less apt to walk away empty-handed.

Since it’s easier to sell material products than convince someone to drop big money on something intangible, such as an education, creative sales techniques have been specifically developed and cultivated to master the task. Major corporations who sell consumer products regularly employ environmental psychology, also known as the psychology of marketing, to help them improve their marketing strategies. By tracking how their customers are influenced and satisfied, companies are able to attract the types of customers they desire, as well as anticipate, provide, and service their needs with more effectiveness. Taking clues from the corporate world, universities and colleges have increased enrollment a huge amount by developing their own strategies using the principles of the psychology of marketing, and better understanding their customer. Here are the basic principles.

  • Establish trust—In order to sell anything to anyone, trust is the first and most important step. Make eye contact with the prospect as you converse. Relax and be yourself. Don't deliver a canned speech; just talk openly and honestly. Give them a chance to ask questions and be prepared with good answers. Avoid interrupting or disagreeing.
  • Show enthusiasm—If the staff doesn’t show passion and belief in what is being offered, then the prospect will be able to sense it and steer away from closing the deal.
  • Be knowledgeable—There is nothing more infuriating to a potential student than to come across a person who claims uncertainty about costs and the procedures involved in getting started and completing their training.
  • Understand the motivations of the student—In order to equate the training with the prospect’s hopes and desires, it is vital to understand the factors involved. Also known as “positioning,” this allows you to lay out long-range plans that will excite the prospect and provide a manageable vision.
  • Translating the information to benefits—This is often more important than the information required. Determining the prospect's needs, both in terms of training expectations and emotions, will always win out over actual flight school information alone.

Remember that all of your careful budgeting and advertisement planning only gets them in the doors, but you and your staff have the ability to keep them there.

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