Anatomy of a sale

Peter Likoray and François Ouellette, leaders of Bombardier’s new and certified pre-owned sales teams, on the secrets of a successful journey of buying a business jet

Bombardier Sales Team Leaders
(Left) Peter Likoray, Senior Vice President, Sales. (Right) François Ouellette, Senior Vice President, Aircraft Acquisitions, Pre-Owned Sales and Contracts. (Photo by Carl Lessard)

Conception. Design. Manufacturing. Certification. Every step is an integral part of the process as a Bombardier business aircraft takes wing. For the customer, however, it’s the moment at the table—whether in person, over the phone or online—where the journey begins. Peter Likoray, Senior Vice President, Sales,  has traveled the world for three decades forging relationships with Bombardier clients, and says the sales team is “the front end of this business.” 

François Ouellette, a lawyer by training and the newly appointed Senior Vice President, Aircraft Acquisitions, Pre-Owned Sales and Contracts, also relishes his customer-facing role. Acquiring a business jet can be exciting, but selling one is too.

“It’s the adrenaline of the deals,” says Ouellette, who, like Likoray, appreciates getting to know the company’s high-flying customers. “I don’t think there’s any other industry where you interact with the most successful people in their field.” 

Peter Likoray sometimes hesitates to use the analogy, but says there is a parallel between buying a jet and buying a car. It has to do with what the customer needs: “What do you want it for? How far do you want to go? What are your typical trips? You go to a car dealer and you say, ‘I’m a construction worker,’ they’re not going to give you a car, they’re going to sell you a pickup truck.” 

Bombardier Global Brand Ambassador Toto Wolff says for a sale to have real impact, goods and services must go above and beyond the call of the duty. “You don’t need to oversell something that has authenticity,” says Wolff. “It’s easier with Bombardier aircraft because each model comes with unbelievable technology...regardless of size.” 

Bombardier CPO Team Leader François Ouellette
François Ouellette, Senior Vice President, Aircraft Acquisitions, Pre-Owned Sales and Contracts (Photo by Carl Lessard)

With business jets, basic questions can help to narrow the search. “What do you want to do? How many people? How far do you want to go?” says Likoray. Frequently, that conversation involves pinpointing whether the customer wants to cross continents or oceans as well, and how often they need to fly. And he explains that in initial talks, price is not an issue. “What you try to find out is what is the right fit for that person to begin with.” 

Some relationships begin with what’s known in sales parlance as a “warm” cold call, through the distribution of marketing materials. The parties might not be closely acquainted, but they’re likely aware of one another. Others begin with an inquiry directly to the sales team, whose members are worldwide, on the part of a prospective customer, who perhaps has been studying the brand’s offerings online. In whatever form it takes, that first contact could plant the seed of a future arrangement.  

Interestingly, Likoray says that discussions that don’t end in a sale don’t necessarily mean the end of a relationship, but often the beginning of one. “At the end of the day, if for some reason they feel that they should be buying something else, then at least we’ve created a relationship. And what they realize from my sales team is they’re just people that are trying to facilitate, to help them make an educated decision on what they want,” he says. 

Bombardier Sales Team Leader Peter Likoray
Peter Likoray, Senior Vice President, Sales (Photo by Carl Lessard)

Part of that education might be advising the customer that they don’t need a brand new Challenger 3500 or Global 7500 aircraft, but are better suited for the time being to a certified pre-owned jet. Bombardier airframes are built to far outlast the trends and technologies of their interiors—meaning that with a retrofit, older aircraft can look like new again. That’s where the Certified Pre-Owned program comes in. “The beauty of the CPO program is that especially if you’re price sensitive, you get an aircraft at a very good price and you have the feeling of a new aircraft. That’s very important. And we’re the only OEM that does that. We’re the only OEM that has such a program,” says François Ouellette. 

The customer-centered approach is all about building long-term relationships and offering continuous support, as opposed to the experience with brokers or even competitors, which can be very transaction-focused. And transparency is key: The sales team, for instance, will inquire about the customer’s typical use of the aircraft and clearly set out how they can expect the aircraft to perform in those particular circumstances. No cookie cutter approach here; every client is special, every use is unique. It’s important to combat misperceptions around such a significant decision. And complete confidentiality throughout the process is a contractual baseline—for everything from customizations that might be requested on an aircraft, to the identity of the buyer. 

Likoray and Ouellette, complemented by a team including Emmanuel Bornand, Frank Vento, George Rependa, Michael Anckner, Peter Bromby and Stéphane Leroy, offer guidance on this most exciting of purchases. And Likoray points out that you will be in good hands after any sale. Whether you’re acquiring a new or pre-owned aircraft, he says there’s a clear handoff between sales and customer service: “And that happens at the time of delivery, where everybody’s made aware of everything that they need in this company to help them support their airplanes. But there is always a touchpoint from my side, because at the end of the day, we want to sell them that next airplane. We want to stay close to them.”  

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