Sales in hospitality. 15 ways to improve..

Likely the best piece of advice I received in University was about “sales”. Inevitably, this advice may have even changed my major field of study.

I remember it clearly because I turned my inner salesman on that day and I have never looked back.

Professor Nutbrown (real name), said

“Sales is a transfer of enthusiasm, and if you can’t successfully learn that, get out of business cause the world won’t buy what you are offering”.

A harsh but welcomed truth, and one our “business” minds needed to hear.

I was at a ripe stage in my life, where I knew everything.. Like most 20 something’s ;)

I realized that day that all my success might be about this enthusiastic statement.

After all, what is the point of a concept, or business if nobody is going to buy what you are offering?

I took “Nutty” (real nickname), very seriously and found some incredible truth in what he said. Now it was time to apply. So I started training, every day, because I wasn’t going to fail in my business, and certainly not because of something that seemed so easy like “sales”..how hard could it be?

My forum and arena were the bars and restaurants I worked for, every day I started honing my craft with repetition and more repetition.

Customer to customer I detailed a strategy, one strung together from sales bibles and life trial and error;

Here it is;

5 truths of any sales;

#1) We all love to buy but hate to be sold.
#2) We only buy when we are comfortable.
#3) “Autonomy” is most human beings first or second life goal, likely a bit “wordier” though.
#4) Without “please” and “thank you”, you won’t sell much more than a vending machine.
#5) In sales, practice and “the game” are the same thing.

So if I was to become the sales guru I felt I needed to be I had to have a process I could put to practice.

A hospitable 10 steps to proper sales in hospitality.

- First, create comfort, make your room an extension of the home dinning room, be welcoming and always offer the “best seat in the house”.

- Know your menu’s well enough to make the first “sale” without them, this will endear and give the patrons comfort in your ability.
* don’t overkill, 1 technical and 1 trivial point will do..(ex; Mendoza Region Malbec, Oldest Vineyard in Argentina..bam)

- Always look to lead the experience humbly, but always lead, people come to a hospitality business to be sold, if you just let them “buy” you will under deliver for yourself, your venue and them.

- Pay attention. With the “Service Ear”, some call it “eaves dropping”, and to that I say, more like “waiting for my cue”. With visual cues and auditory cues, you cannot lose, you need to listen as you graze near the table or re fold a napkin, pay attention and always try to stay one step ahead..

- Find a memorable moment to be a part of the conversation. This does not mean you need to take over but a small fact, a moment of related experience or even putting a womans jacket on for her WILL pay dividends. Don’t dominate dinner, be subtle and use what you were given….(dimples if you have them ;))

- Follow the body language. So much of our communication is in the body language and as a server, bartender or manager you need to professionalize your observation skills. If they are low, get down on a knee, if is it loud, get close. If they are flirting, well…flirt. Not a science but a skill, take your time and never ASSuME, always follow the cues.

- Please and Thank you…this is so easy.

- Always allow for choices, but always be suggestive. I would focus my customers on features and items that Chef wanted us to sell. A wine that I loved, or could sell like I did. “Just to let you know the lamb is fantastic tonight and with the Grenache, simply amazing..”. Always lead with suggestive choice..

- Walk them to the door – This seems simple but this gesture has likely been my best step to instant sales return. You can engage people in so many endearing and designed conversations as they leave, gaining returns, reservations or creating walking billboards with business cards.

So to answer my own question, “How hard could sales be?” truth is, hard…I continue to work on the process daily, continue to design the experience and the guests never seem to stay the same for long. 

We sell ourselves everyday, and in hospitality we sell a concept, make sure you find your enthusiasm for it or do us all a favour and quit. You need to be able to transfer that enthusiasm to the guest with rich transparent knowledge and give a thoughtful genuine experience. No hard sell in hospitality.

Get to doing!

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