Stop Upselling & Start Experience Selling

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity. Simone Weil

You’ve heard of upselling, and understand that the objective is to immediately increase the house margins (and, hopefully, your tips). This tactic doesn’t always lead to a better guest experience, though, and can actually backfire. A less-than-stellar experience means less for everyone, including you.

[x_pullquote cite=”Wikipedia” type=”right”]Upselling is a sales technique where a seller induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale. While it usually involves marketing more profitable services or products, it can be simply exposing the customer to other options that were perhaps not considered.[/x_pullquote]

A better strategy is something I call experience selling.

Guests aren’t coming through your door for the products on your shelf. They can go to the liquor store for that. They come through your door because they are seeking an experience they can’t get at home. The two most significant components contributing to guests’ experience are:

    1. Venue Ambiance: lighting, music, temperature and feng shui.
  1. Calibration: how you welcome and measure a guest to identify the amount and kind of attention they’d like.

Venue ambiance and guest calibration deserve their own blog posts, and we’ll cover them at a later time. Today, though, we will assume that those things are dialed in.

[/cs_text][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ accent=”false” class=”cs-ta-center”]What is Experience Selling?[/x_custom_headline][cs_text]Experience selling is the art of introducing a guest to a new experience, one that is calibrated and gentle, and that gives them something memorable to talk about with their friends when they leave your establishment. Experience selling also involves taking a guest from their current beverage and suggesting something that is similar.

[x_image type=”rounded” float=”left” src=”https://barwit.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/julio_chang_sours.png” title=”Sour1 & Sour2″ info=”tooltip” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”focus”]The aim of these suggestions is not to recommend something because it is higher priced but because it pairs well with your guest’s mood, attitude, and what they are drinking based on information you’ve gained from them.

We direct our focus from the short game to the long game. We aren’t looking to make an extra dollar or two on our tip in that transaction; we are looking to build trust and a relationship that will pay dividends when that guest returns to continue the journey that the two of you embarked upon. When we experience sell correctly we build rapport with our guest. This rewards you with additional visits from them and their friends, and perhaps a quality public review that will draw in your next new face.[/cs_text][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ accent=”false” class=”cs-ta-center”]How do you Experience Sell?[/x_custom_headline][cs_text]

Once your guest has decided on a beverage, you can identify a few things about him, especially if the two of you had a conversation and he went with a suggestion of yours. You can figure out what your guest likes by identifying these characteristics in their current beverage:[x_image type=”rounded” float=”right” src=”https://barwit.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/julio_experience_selling2.png” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]

  • Bitterness
  • Sweetness
  • Sourness
  • Smokiness
  • Effervescence
  • Length
  • Finish

Determine which of those characteristics your guest desires, then confidently suggest a beverage of similar profile. You can make this recommendation based upon your experience with your inventory and what they are having. This is why it is critical that you are continuously tasting to develop your palate. When you are working, straw taste when appropriate, and when you aren’t working, try new beverages.


Photo Credits: Julio Chang, follow him on Instagram and say hello![/cs_text][x_custom_headline level=”h4″ accent=”false”]If you found this post helpful feel free to share your thoughts and experiences below.


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