April 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 11 
Commercial Airplanes

Communicating value

Scott Carson, BCA's new sales chief, reflects on his role

Scott CarsonScott Carson took over as vice president–Sales at Boeing Commercial Airplanes last December after having led Connexion by Boeing. Under Carson's lead, Connexion brought the high-speed in-flight Internet service to market with airlines in Europe and Asia. A 32-year veteran of Boeing, Carson has held leadership positions across the company and brings a unique perspective to the Sales function. He recently answered questions from Boeing Frontiers about BCA's competitive position and selling airplanes in today's environment.

Q: How has your experience at Connexion helped you in your new position?

A: When you lead a business unit, you quickly realize the importance of being strategic in everything you do. Every decision we make and every action we take should be done with an important objective or strategy in mind. Here at BCA Sales, we are working very hard at developing comprehensive, well-thought-out strategies for our sales campaigns—both for the near term and just as importantly for the longer term—to make sure we are all focused on the same shared goals, and that we are doing everything we can to win.

I also realized that there are few things more important than our relationships with our customers. Every single contact we have with our customers is an opportunity to advance our relationships and our detailed customer knowledge. And detailed customer knowledge and strong relationships are the most valuable assets we have.

Q: What is your plan for competing with Airbus? What will it take to regain the lead in orders and deliveries?

A: As [Commercial Airplanes President and CEO] Alan Mulally often says, we want to be preferred by our customers. And being preferred means you sell the most airplanes.

So we do have a plan for winning. But let's make it clear that it isn't my plan—it's our plan. To succeed in this business, we need everyone working together. In fact, a big part of our plan is that we use every resource we have at Boeing to win new business. I want to be sure we leverage everything we have to convince our customers that buying Boeing is the best choice.

We need to communicate the value we deliver to our customers despite aggressive pricing by our competitor. To communicate that value, we need strong campaign strategies that take advantage of every resource we have. We also need to be innovative and responsive in finding solutions for our customers. And we must have the mindset that we expect to win. I think we do.

Q: We have often heard that Airbus will lower its prices to the point where we can't compete because it will be a bad business deal for us. And yet, Airbus executives recently claimed we started a price war. What is your position on pricing?

A: I would take a grain or two of salt when reading Airbus comments about our pricing. Pricing, obviously, is a critically sensitive part of any sales campaign. And what is said in public may or may not accurately reflect what is really going on with a proposal or a customer decision. It's important to remember that.

Our products bring better value to our customers, and our pricing reflects that value. We also have a responsibility to our shareholders, and that means pricing that allows us to make our financial goals. At the same time we have to be competitive in the marketplace. And we have to realize that our customers face great financial pressures, and price is a key factor in their decision making. But it is only one factor, and it is critically important that we communicate to our customers on those other factors.

Do I think that we will ever be the lower-price option? No. Do I think that should keep us from gaining more than 50 percent market share? I answer "no" to that as well.

But let me say one more thing that is absolutely essential to our success in the marketplace. We simply must continue to lower the cost of making our products so we can offer the lowest possible prices to our customers. We must improve our productivity every day, every month, every year, forever. It's essential, it's a fact of life, and we all have a role to play.


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