Confidence and conviction as a service

by Carl Natale on July 9, 2010

Last week I read a provocative blog entry by Chris Brogan about the importance of confidence and conviction in making the sale. Here’s the scenario Chris presents:

The guest at the table next to mine asked their server, “What do you think of the halibut special?”

The server replied, “I’m not really sure. What did you have in mind when you came in? You know, people really are much happier when they have something in mind. I think it’s okay. I’ve sold a lot of it. I haven’t personally tried it, but it looks good.”

All I was thinking was, if I were the server, I’d say this:

“It’s a great presentation: crispy top and served over our lime rice. I’ve sold lots of it today.”

The guest had opened this can of worms. She had asked what the server recommended. The server’s job at that moment? Recommend the thing the guest would be astounded and pleased to eat. That’s it. No waffling allowed.

Chris goes on to explain how he applies confidence and conviction to his business. On that, he’s right. But I don’t believe it applies so well this situation. You need to read his whole entry to decide.

There’s a strong temptation to get high and mighty about ethics and honesty. I don’t believe Chris is advocating dishonesty. His suggested response is truthful. And I believe him to be an honest man. This is just a bad example of how to serve your customers with confidence and conviction.

But let me share this experience I had since the blog was published. It happened in a Hilton hotel. I was looking for a family type restaurant on a Sunday, Fourth of July, evening in desolate downtown. I read a Yelp review that said there was casual dining at the Hilton.

A quick inspection of the menu didn’t reveal something for everyone. We had a 14-year-old aficionado of chicken strips and fries with us. As we started to leave, we were stopped by a woman who worked there. She had a name tag but I didn’t see her title.

She asked if she could seat us but we explained it wasn’t what we were looking for. When she pressed for details, she explained that the bar menu would accommodate us. She took us to the lobby bar – very nice setting – and showed us the menu. It was basic tavern food – what we were looking for. But no chicken strips.

She said no problem. Those were on the children’s menu. Just order an adult sized portion.

So we sat and ate. The food satisfied everyone. And it cost just as much as the previous night’s dinner at a place with “Diner” in the name. While we were there, other families with children sat and ate.

Here’s why I thought of Chris’ blog. The hotel employee – I assume she was a dining manager – had it in her mind that we wouldn’t find anything to eat elsewhere. She listened to what we wanted and explained how she could help. Confidence and conviction made the sale.

Like I said, read his whole entry. That anecdote is just out of place in a solid explanation of how to propel your business.

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