Getting upgraded to first class is one of the (few) perks of being a frequent traveler. On one recent trip, I decided to cash in some credits to sit up front. After we were in the air, the flight attendants came by with drinks and then proceeded to spend the rest of the trip talking to each other and staring at their phones rather than engage the passengers in first class.

At the end of the trip I sent a message to the airline letting them know about my experience and requesting that the credits I had burned be refunded. The response I received read as follows: “Although the service was not continually offered, the first class seat you requested was provided.”

This airline clearly does not understand that first class is not a seat—it’s an experience!

This got me thinking about the experience we profile our clients as sales professionals. Are we doing the bare minimum? Or, are we looking for ways to provide a first class experience for our clients?

A Great First Class Experience

First Class Meal

This morning I was offered an upgrade on a flight to my home country, Canada. The seat was the same size as the other first class seat. However, check out the experience:

  • Lounge access was provided before and after the flight with a quiet surrounding, internet access, and snacks.
  • After take off, the flight attendant welcomed me and handed me a menu
  • Next, she brought me a hot towel to clean my hands—a simple gesture that has been forgotten by most airlines
  • My coffee cup stayed full of hot coffee (unfortunately, not Tim Hortons, but still good) throughout the flight
  • Breakfast was served including fresh fruit
  • The flight attendant was friendly and helpful

All of this combined to create a great experience—one that I am talking about publicly on my blog. Most of the items on this list cost the airline very little. The key to the experience was the flight attendant.

Interestingly, some of my best flying experiences have been in coach. For example, flying to see our clients in Australia on Qantas economy class is fantastic. I’ve also had a great experience flying between London and Chicago on Norwegian, a discount airline. The point is that you don’t have to offer a first class sized seat to create a great experience.

What Experience Are You Creating For Your Clients?

If we want a first-class income as a sales rep, you need to provide a first class experience. Of course, some of this has to do with the products you sell and the service your company provides. However, your company’s product and service is only part of the equation—and maybe not the most important part.Hot Towel

For this illustration, I’m going to equate your company’s great products and service to the larger seat in first class. I’ll also equate the role you play as a sales rep to the role of a flight attendant. You see, much like airline seats, your company’s product and service is probably very similar to your competitors. What can set you apart is the experience you provide.

What can you do as a sales rep to provide a better experience:

  • As the prospect is evaluating alternatives?
  • During the close?
  • After the close during the time of buyer’s remorse?
  • During the implementation?
  • During quarterly business reviews?

What extras can you provide like hot towels or a never-ending cup of hot coffee?

I’m married to a newborn photographer. As my wife has built her business, I’ve watched her pay attention to every detail of the client experience. From the special information package she sends out to the special way she’s laid out her studio to be fun and hospitable to new moms, she’s created a great experience. Even during the “Gallery Preview” (a.k.a. closing meeting) she throws in special things that have clients feeling great about their purchase when they leave. All of it adds up to a first class experience. This leads to many repeat clients and referrals.

First class is not just a seat at the front, it’s an experience. It requires a smile, a great attitude, and a focus on details. What could you do today to enhance your client’s experience?

Client Experience As Competitive Advantage

Larry Levine and I recently explored this topic on the Selling From the Heart Podcast. Check out this episode:

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