If You Want To Sell More, Eat More!

If your sales career has hit a slump worse than the New York Yankee’s Derek Jeter’s “0 for 32” hit-less streak in 2004, let me suggest an affordable seminar available to help get your sales swagger back. In fact, this seminar is offered in nearly every city in America. Can you name a seminar where you can enjoy a nice meal with a special person, have a glass of wine to unwind from the long day, and get a crash course in sales? Make a reservation, grab your coat, and head off to your favorite fine dining restaurant. Now when I say “fine dining” I do not mean 2 for 1 food and drinks, I mean the one with candle-lit tables, linen napkins and table cloths, all surrounded by your favorite love ballads being hammered away on the ivory keys of a grand piano nestled in the corner. Look at this evening not as an expense, but as an investment in both careers, personal and professional. A great example of superior salespeople are servers of fine dining restaurants. Like many of us, they make a living based on their clientele’s satisfaction.

In this 2 part series, we will look at examples of what great servers do on a consistent basis and we can learn from them:

  • Be Approachable: Servers realize you never get a second chance to make a first impression (or commission). Diners immediately make a decision if they like you based on how you approach them. A great server introduces and carries himself in a personable, professional manner at all times, no matter how tough the evening may be. Lesson learned: No matter how hard you may prepare for a sale, your client may never give you a chance to showcase your knowledge if you approach them in an unprofessional manner. You may have sparred 12 rounds with your last customer, but do not take a negative experience from one client to another. Your clients depend on you to enhance their buying experience not destroy it. The better your customer’s experience, the more they will show their appreciation (commission).
  • Be Attentive: Great servers are very quick and attentive to their client’s needs performing even menial tasks without being asked. Behind the scenes, a restaurant can be a zoo, but a great server never will reveal it. He has an eye for detail and pays attention to the needs of his guests (e.g. refilling a glass without being asked). Aside from being detail oriented, servers assume the sale by offering a nice bottle of wine paired with a savory appetizer and salad. How many times before arriving at a restaurant, have you vowed to only eat an entree only to be influenced by your server to “try” a succulent appetizer, saying, “Well…I’ll work it off tomorrow.”  Join the crowd my friend, a sale has just been made. Lesson learned: Taking care of the small things builds trust, credibility, and influences your customers to want to do business with you. The road to a sale is similar to dating. The person you are dating really appreciates the small things you do for them-your customers are the same way.
  • Obtain your PhD: Professional servers have extensive knowledge and are able to recite from memory what the appetizers, entrees, and desserts are for the evening. They do a great job by painting a mental picture of the sauces and preparation of each dish. When dining at a new restaurant my wife likes to ask, “What is good here?” My faith in a restaurant tumbles faster than Enron’s stock when a server has not taken the time to try certain foods in order to relate them to his guests. They make comments like, “I don’t know, I never ate that,” or “I don’t like fish.”  Even if a server does not eat certain foods, they must get feedback from previous guests who have eaten it in order to relate to others. A great restaurant is only as great as the experience a server gives to its guests. Lesson learned: Every sale is an emotional decision followed up by logic. If you can appeal to a client’s emotional side, they will make a decision and be able to justify it logically. Being knowledgeable about your product gives you the confidence needed to make a sale. Being knowledgeable about your product allows you to build a foundation of value. If a customer perceives the product as valuable, they will pay the price for it. Clients depend on your expertise in order to make an educated buying decision. Also, using clients’ testimonies is a powerful way to gain credibility and trust in your product.

Next time we will look at more examples of what great servers do and what we can learn from them. What was your experience when eating out? I would love to hear your comments and how a server made you feel?

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