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6 Tips for Avionics Professional Selling In the Real World

Jul 12, 2017
Norm Matheis, Canadian Regional Sales Manager

Norm Matheis, Canadian Regional Sales Manager

Norm is the Regional Sales Manager for Canada for Universal Avionics. Previously, Norm held management and technical support roles at Canadian avionics shops, OEMs, and airlines. Norm is a graduate of the Centennial College Avionics Maintenance Specialist Program and holds an AME E license.

In the twilight of my 43-year career, I reflect from time-to-time and consider how fortunate I've been to spend most of it in a professional avionics sales role. Having done it for this long, I've had the opportunity too, to run into many obstacles along the way. I'll try today to pass on six things that I have found to work in this highly competitive marketplace, and what doesn't – at least for me. In no particular order.

1. Relationship Selling – Not

I hear once a week, the obsolete thought process that avionics sales are all about relationships. That makes as much sense as hiring a new sales rep because of his or her perceived contacts list (1950's thinking). I've found it's much more important to be trusted than loved, and above all else, be credible. Lose credibility in this business, and it's gone forever, not to be seen again. Having prospects come back to you because you are seen as an honest and accurate broker of information is a pretty good place to be. Get your facts straight. And assume your prospects are just as smart as you are and are cross-checking your answers. A safe bet, I've found.

2. Homework, Homework, Homework

Before I call or meet anyone, I have found out as much about them as is humanly possible. Never in history have we had more information at our fingertips. Start with LinkedIn at the very least. Know as much about their aviation operation as possible long before you go into that first meeting… Nothing turns off a prospect faster than making it obvious you know nothing about who they are or what they do. But, don't go overboard with this either. Don't research yourself out of a job.

3. Know Your Product as a Solution

Seems obvious, no? The days of feature-dumping, pretty pictures and selling eye candy are long over. The only thing that sells today is the fix or solution to your customer's problem. Start with that, and you can't go wrong. They still may not buy from you and your company, but at least you're on the right track. Also, understand and be able to present exactly how the product fixes what is broke for your prospect. Be obviously passionate about your product, and project that you believe in it. It helps if you actually do.

4. Ask Questions

If you want my business, I will expect you to try to understand my business. Ask your prospects the simple things, like, what is important to you? Is business good? Where do you operate at what time of year? Where do you fly today and plan to fly tomorrow? What isn't important to you? Showing that you are sincerely interested in your prospect's success can go a long way. It will help identify the right solution for your client. You can't find everything on the web beforehand. Ask questions – get the right answers. Asking questions will be a differentiator for you, and will be noticed and appreciated.

5. Do What You Say You Are Going To Do

One cannot over-emphasize this; do what you say you will do when you say you'll deliver. Missed commitments are the kiss of sales-death. I no longer expend any calories on people who don't do what they say they are going to do. Don't expect your prospects to either. And please, please don't say "I've been really busy" when you fail to produce. All that means to me as your prospect is that your time is being spent on people more important than me.

6. Get Your Pricing Model Right

Get your avionics basic price model correct. Ask your accounting folks for help to set up a basic spreadsheet tool that includes your basic laid-in costs for material and labour, and a means of easily adjusting for different expectations of profitability and "what-if" situations. These are just tools though. The spreadsheet doesn't have a brain; you have to use yours. And you can't miss anything, get the big ticket things right.

There are a lot of great avionics solutions available today that will meet the ADS-B Out and other mandate requirements and provide your prospects with the additional benefits most are looking for. Use us sales managers at Universal Avionics as allies and resources. We've all been doing this for a long time, and as I said at the beginning of this blog, we've had the chance to overcome more challenges than you may have. You don't have to repeat those same challenges!

Good luck and good selling.

1 comment

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  1. Dave Upchurch | Jul 13, 2017
    Great advice, Norm!

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