Onboard sales training

Helping crews sell well

April 26, 2017

Working with airlines Monarch, Thomas Cook and Small Planet, Chloe Lerner’s role is to motivate and inspire crews to achieve the best onboard sales they can. It’s a role that has evolved dramatically in the past 10 years as ancillary revenues have become more critical, and one she relishes for its challenges and rewards.

Lerner says: “Investment in crew sales skills has increased and crews joining the airlines today know this is a fundamental part of their role. But they are expected to sell in a very challenging environment and we have to do everything we can pre-departure to make it easier.

“We aim to help crew understand the language and skills of retailing, motivate them with specific targets on spend per head, margins, volumes and specific promotions and fill them with enthusiasm for the products they have to sell.

“70% of products sold onboard change annually so it is vital we fully brief the crew in advance. We hold workshops and surgeries, get suppliers in to talk to the crew, give them samples and showcase the products through crew notice boards, social media and intranet sites. In short we are working in every way we can to inspire their engagement and understanding well before the new product gets onboard.

“We are constantly looking for different ways to communicate with crew, to encourage and inspire them. We launched the OMG! Awards four years ago as a way to reward and recognise top performers and they have worked tremendously well. Crew now strive hard to win the awards and there are some amazing incentives to be earned along the way, from big cash prizes and a car, to even paying someone’s mortgage for a year! The benefits to the airline of an engaged and motivated crew is obvious.”

Key to success is product knowledge, she says, but there is more to it than that. “We encourage crew to think about their route and who is onboard and to identify relevant products suited to that market. We also encourage them to think about how they should interact with that client type and the best way to introduce relevant products for sale.

“Selling is really as much about people as product. The best product, best margin and best presentation in a magazine will count for nothing if the crew is disengaged. 90% of passengers do browse the inflight magazine, they know what is available and are a captive market. All the crew have to do is help them make the purchase by building a rapport, ensuring they are aware of promotions or giving them the final inspiration to buy through a personal recommendation or suggestion. Onboard offers are genuinely good deals so onboard retail shouldn’t be seen as a hard sell, rather as a service.”

Pictured: Chloe Lerner and winners at the annual OMG Awards!