Interview: Alex Berry, sales coach, on why having a sales process is critical


Sales are at the heart of most industries, and this is especially true of business aviation. Not much happens without someone selling an aircraft. Corporate Jet Investor spoke to Alex Berry, a sales coach specialising in business aviation industry

Corporate Jet Investor: How did you end up as a sales coach?

Berry: I wanted to make a difference. I’ve always been involved with selling, and it is the part of the corporate world I enjoy the most. I really wanted to help people to understand the sales process.

Corporate Jet Investor: How did you end up in business aviation?

Berry: I had a few other jobs before entering the industry, including selling cars. I got bored of selling cars and wanted to sell something bigger. I called my father who suggested I should get a job selling boats or aircraft. I had previously taken a flying lesson as a teenager in a Cessna, so I rang up their head office and asked if they had any jobs. The sales manager said Cessna would not give me a job without an engineering degree, but said he had a friend looking for sales staff for a US-based company. The company was NetJets. I left NetJets in 2003 to join Marquis Jet. I have also worked for Exclusive Resorts, VistaJet and Chapman Freeborn.

Corporate Jet Investor: Did all the companies you work for have a strong sales process?

Berry: No, but they all had ambition, and they all wanted to be the best. The most successful companies I worked with were just sales, sales, sales, and they all had a very solid process to do this. Part of my role at VistaJet and Chapman Freeborn was to implement the sales process. Most of them also invested heavily into training, rather than just hiring the biggest names they could. This is vital to having a strong sales core with the right attitude to approach the selling process.

Corporate Jet Investor: What sort of clients do you most enjoy working with?

Berry: The ones that strive to improve themselves. Clients, who are willing to do what it takes to get to where they want, are the best sort of business. Improving someone’s sales only works if they have the drive and motivation to do it.

Corporate Jet Investor: What is the most common problem your clients face?

Berry: The sales process – most do not have a strong sales process, or even understand that a process is needed.

They need to have a plan, execute the plan, measure their progress and then make adjustments if necessary.

A number of large organisations do not have a plan, so they have nothing to execute, and then they get frustrated when they aren’t meeting their targets.

The most important thing to do is plan.

Selling is like water travelling from the top of a mountain to the sea. The water will always move downwards, but if there is a blockage, the water pressure will build up, and the water will find another path around the obstacle. The sales process is the same – you need to make adjustments if there is a problem.

Corporate Jet Investor: Are there any other techniques that you implement or change?

Berry: Reducing performance anxiety is a common technique to help increase sales. The idea is applicable with anything – when you put a prize at the end, it changes one’s perception.

A great example of this is when buying a car. The best time to buy is at the end of the month, as sales staff who have not met their monthly target will do whatever it takes to close a deal, even if it means dropping the price, or saying something the shouldn’t. This is because their anxiety to perform affects their sales process.

“Amateurs Practice until they can do it right. Pro’s practice until the can’t do it wrong.”

Aside from this, small changes can make a big difference. Looking to get the most out of data and CRM systems, for example, can have a huge impact on the sales process.

Corporate Jet Investor: Is selling in business aviation harder than in other industries?

Berry: No. If the product has a value, and you have a proper sales process, you can sell it. The business aviation industry is the only industry that can sell time, which is of huge value. Even if you buy a Bugatti Veyron – you still won’t be faster in a traffic jam.

Corporate Jet Investor: Which sales techniques are the most prominent for creating success in business aviation?

Berry: The best things to do are to listen and ask questions.

Corporate Jet Investor: What one tip would you give someone trying to sell a jet?

Berry: The most important thing is to try to fully understand your customer’s wants and needs, and fulfil these. At this point it isn’t selling, it is problem solving and creating value.