Old School’s Friendly Skies

Years ago (I’m guessing it was mid 80’s), there was a brilliantly simple television ad put out by United Airlines. I looked for it on YouTube but couldn’t find it. Sorry.

A group of salespeople—probably 30 in all—lingered in a conference room, waiting for the boss and wondering what was going on.

Enter the boss.

“We just got fired by one of our oldest clients,” he states as he enters the room. “He said he didn’t know us anymore.”

If I could’ve found the actual ad, this next part would’ve been the exact script, but since I couldn’t, my recollection of what I think he said will have to suffice:

“We make phone calls. We send faxes. If the name of efficiency, we use technology where we used to do things face-to-face. We’ve lost the personal touch.”

He continued…“But that’s going to change.”

And with that, plane tickets are handed out.

“We are going to go visit every single customer that we have.”

“But, Tom,” someone comments, “that’s over 120 cities.”

“I know,” the boss calmly replies, “but it’s important.”

As a voiceover actor says a few words about United Airlines’ extensive flying network, the camera shows someone handing the boss a ticket as well.

“Where you going, Tom?” the boss is asked.

“To go visit that client we lost,” he replies.

Remember, this was 25 years ago. There was no mention of e-mails, voicemails, or texting, because none of that existed. This fictitional character’s words hold even more truth today.

There is no substitute for the benefits of a personal visit. We might not get as much face time with our customers, but Facetime (videoconferencing, for you poor non-Apple types) is not an acceptable alternative.

Get out there on a regular basis and visit your customers before you lose them to someone who is.

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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  • Matt Hibbing

    Youtube Search for "lost customer airline ad".

    First result – Leadership Moment – Losing Touch With Your Clients via Technology.

  • Jerry

    Far and away one the best all-time ads. As one who was on the road for 38 years, you cannot get into someone’s head unless you’re looking them in the eye. Establishing a relationship and trust is job # 1.

  • MZazeela

    Thanks for the reminder Bill. Are we losing our humanity in favor of efficiency? See what efficiency gets you in the long run!


  • Gutenburg

    I loved those commercials Bill! They came on right when I was going into sales, and always thought the "sales gunslinger" feel to them was right on.
    p.s. as a former vendor to United I can tell you it’s one of the few things they ever got right..

  • Bob Zent

    When I got laid off back in 2010 I was working with a company supplied "Life Coach." She said it ‘s been awhile since you had to look for a job, let me hear what kind of salesman you think you are. What kind of values do you employ. I mentioned BTB (Belly to Belly) Eye to Eye and press the flesh in the description I gave of myself. You would have thought her head was going to explode. She quickly told me "You can’t say those kind of things anymore" Really? I respectfully disagreed. Fast forward and I am still kicking A%$ in sales. Pressing the flesh, meeting belly to belly and engaging people and clients on a very human level. And to all of my veteran sales brethren, I say we have the advantage. While the Jr. sales reps of this new generation have there heads down texting, we have our heads up, eyes on the prize and shaking hands with the world. We have no competition. People want to deal with people. Not a texting machine. As Dale Carnegie once said "Man’s greatest desire is to be acknowledged" Hard to do with a text or email. Thanks Bill – Keep up the good work. Go Sox!

  • J Barry

    Bill, here is a copy of it on YouTube…I think it was done in 1989…even very relevant for today with all of our tech gadgets..John Barry