I recently read an article on how to get one of those choice seats in the first-class cabin. One suggestion was to be nice and smile at the gate agent. Gee, I don’t think so! Yes, I should be courteous and warm, but no, there is darn little chance that being sweet will get me upgraded. I know the computer makes those decisions based on the passenger’s status in the airline’s loyalty program, how much they paid for their ticket, when they bought it, and numerous other factors. Rarely does the gate agent have any discretion as to which of us weary travelers gets that last first-class seat.
But the article did have value—because it made me think about how salespeople get “upgraded” in the minds of our prospects. In that realm, there’s no computer and no algorithm. And while smiling probably won’t make much of a difference, how we behave totally determines how we’re perceived and whether the prospect gives us first-class treatment (an appointment) or not.