Selling is a complex topic.  In the first part of this series, I discussed how most managers and corporations fail to encourage servers to sell in the right way. The second part dealt with the fact that we are all salespeople and in fact selling is part of hospitality.  If you haven’t read part two in particular, I highly recommend taking a look because it serves as a premise for this post.  Today, I want to tie this all together by stating that in fact the guests truly want you to sell them.

The premise that guests want to be sold something may at first glance strike you as odd.  I mean we all hate salespeople right?  While a resistance to salespeople might be common, but there is a more common trait that cancels it out.  We all love to buy things.  Some people love it more than others, but we all like converting the money we work hard for into things we will actually enjoy.  We know we work hard for it so we are naturally resistant to letting go of it.  The gap between wanting to save our hard earned dollars and the desire to buy things that make us happy can only be bridged by a sales person.

The difference between servers and other sales people is that the guest determines our commissions.  For this reason, many servers are afraid to sell.  I would argue that instead of using this as a reason not to sell, you should instead use it as a guideline.  Never try to sell anything that is not in the guest’s best interest.  You will only be rewarded for your efforts if they are pleased with the outcome.  This makes it imperative that you only recommend items they will enjoy and will reflect positively on you.

With that caveat, here are three reasons why the guest wants you to sell to them:

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Help Them Do What They Want: I mentioned earlier the dilemma between wanting to save and wanting to spend.  As a server you help ease the process by justifying for the guest what they want to do.  Providing this justification helps push them over the edge to allow them to order what they want to enjoy.  You give them permission to treat themselves.  The result is a better meal by overcoming their desire to save and instead buy what they want to.

Confirm What They Hoped For: After the fear of spending is overcome, you can address the secondary fear that the item might not bring the happiness they expected.  This is where your knowledge and expertise come in.  You have the benefits of having tasted the item and listening to the feedback of other guests who have tried it.  This knowledge makes your recommendation far more powerful.  In this way, your recommendation is really a review.  It is actually better than a review because you will be there when they are finished and have to stand behind your recommendation.  This provides confidence to the guest that the meal will be as good as they hoped for.

Create The Experience: So we have knocked out the fear of spending and the fear of disappointment.  The third fear a server can overcome is the fear of gluttony.  People do not want to order too much.  A server can overcome this by not pretending all of the food is necessary, but instead advocating the experience.  The appetizers, salads, and desserts are not needed to get full, but they are part of the dining experience.  Ordering the salad or dessert makes a meal an experience.  Give them permission to have the experience through your recommendations and they will get more enjoyment out of the meal.

“Sales” is not a four-letter word.  The inherent fear of selling intimidates many servers.  When done properly the guest will appreciate the efforts and the expertise.  Recommend as you would to a friend because it truly is part of hospitality.  The right way to sell will be the topic of many future posts now that the framework has been laid.  Please subscribe via one of the methods on the right column to receive a notice about future related topics.

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