AIRticulate

Sales Culture Rule 3: Well-Roundedness is Good!

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Education is awfully expensive for skills that will never be used in the real world. Unfortunately, I’ve been told by more than one individual in the workplace that the value of a university education, or even a Master’s for that matter, is primarily to “teach one how to learn.” Or serve as some kind of indicator that tells an employer that they are dealing with a candidate who knows how to follow rules and conform enough to be funneled through a system. I recently looked back through some of my notes from an Operations Management course in graduate school, and I found some fascinating stuff…only to realize I hadn’t encountered a single thing as mind-massaging and challenging in several years in the aviation industry. And if I had taken that role working in Operations Management I was offered, the Strategic Marketing concepts I learned probably would have been wasted. This is a problem that extends beyond the airline industry, but jobs at all levels are far too segmented. In the airline industry in particular, it seems that many organizations have a hard line between “sales” and “analysis” that rarely gets crossed, and this creates a sales force full of one-dimensional people.

It sounds simple enough, but the most effective airlines in the future will breed talent that is both relationship-oriented and analytical. While there will may be a need for inside sales, or a data analyst, these shouldn’t be the life support for a sales rep or manager that spends all of his or her time eating steak lunches and attending networking events. The more effective that sales rep is at understanding data, and the more self-sufficient he is at obtaining and analyzing data, the more effective negotiator he will become. But today, far too often the sales rep requests some numbers from a junior analyst, walks into a negotiation spitting out those numbers without a complete understanding of factors that may skew them, or even some trends that may be emerging, and walks out of the negotiation going to ask the Sales Manager, or above, in XYZ discount or target will be acceptable. Relationship skills are natural, and easy for people that have them. But analytical skills are not always so inherent, and need to be developed. For this reason, it is time for the airline industry to seek and develop people who have both in order to maximize productivity across all levels of a sales organization.

 

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Customer Engagement Strategy for the Airline Industry

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