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Tips & Best Practices for Family Entertainment Centers

The Kiss–Up Approach is Dead

One of the things that drives me crazy about selling and great guest service, is that often times those providing the service feel like, or at least verbalize, how much they hate “kissing up” to others. I don’t get that. Why would you “kiss up” to get business? Why can’t just being kind to someone be about – being kind?

To me, a “kiss up” job can be spotted a mile away. The consumer today is VERY savvy. Sales tricks and false flattery get you nowhere. Finding something nice to say to someone is simply a good way to start the conversation. It’s a habit that your mom helped you form at a very early age – remember? “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all!”

I think the hardest part of any guest service or sales job is to get the conversation started. Kissing up is not the right approach. Here are the best 3 ways to open the conversation and give yourself the chance to make the sale, up the sale, or at least open the door for the next step! If you’re having trouble getting that next date-these 3 steps might really help

Step number 1 – Break the ice

If you’re the kind of person who becomes paralyzed the minute you need to meet someone new or open the conversation, here are my best opening lines. I’ll let you know right up front, I’m not crazy about talking about the weather – unless I’m selling umbrellas. I am most interested in learning more about the person I’m speaking to in order to get my foot in the door. So I might simply say:

“Hi I’m Beth…you are?”

Look for some common ground. If I’m in someone’s office for the first time there are usually pictures, keepsakes, or some clue about that person. “Ah – I see you are an Arkansas Razorback fan – I grew up in Arkansas”… This one only works if the person doesn’t appear to be a terrorist or something!

I might compliment someone on their clothes, hair, shoes…This one could be interpreted as a “kiss up” however I try to NEVER make something up. I try to be genuine when passing out a compliment – I don’t happen to think that’s kissing up.

And I picked up my all time favorite “ice breaker” from a 16 year old game attendant in North Carolina who said that his favorite opening line was: “I hope your body’s name is VISA – cuz it’s everywhere I want to be”. I’m not sure that works at all but I did think it was pretty funny!

Step number 2 – Show genuine interest and qualify your buyer

Ask a lot of questions. The more you know about someone the better opportunity you have to sell, provide the kind of service they are looking for, or to even close the deal on a date!

It’s exhausting in sales to try and figure out what someone wants when you subscribe to the “pitch” approach and try to explain every product in the line before finding out anything at all about your buyer. It’s boring and inefficient! All of us have wasted time trying to sell a product that our buyer just isn’t interested in.

If you are interested in the buyer first, rather than trying to meet your own objectives of selling your product, then you’ll win most of the time. Zig Ziglar said it best, “when you help enough other people get what they want, then you’ll get what you want!”

Think about it in terms of dating – If you have tickets to a hockey game and your desire is to have me go with you, you better find out first if I like hockey. If not, you’re likely to get the message that I don’t want to date you, when in reality, I just don’t like hockey.

Step number 3 – Ask for the order

So many people get good at the first 2 steps. They work on their opening- line and get very good at being social. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen many salespeople spend all their time stuck in step number one…just chit chatting all evening and never getting to step 2 or 3. The reality is, you have to get past the comfortable chit chat stage if you ever intend to sell anything.

Once you move into step 2 and begin to qualify someone then you can more accurately know and understand their needs or wants. Now you are in a much better position to ask for the order (or the date). You know if you have something to offer or not.

This is a lot better approach than just “kissing up” and hoping they’ll buy your stuff because they like you. Don’t get me wrong, I think a salesperson must be likable. The best approach doesn’t work well if you are not friendly.


If I were to sum up this week’s message it would be – Don’t kiss up, but rather be genuine in your approach. Spend more time finding out about someone else rather than pitching your product – and do that 1st! Finally, be brave and ask someone to buy your stuff (or go out on that date).

Here’s one of my deep dark secrets. Even though I feel like I’m a very good sales person and often times people describe me as someone who never meets a stranger, I’m extremely nervous at a networking event where I don’t know anyone. I am much more comfortable if I have someone with me. So my trick is when I go to a chamber meeting or even a social at a trade show, I try to take someone with me. It works even better if I’m training that person how to network and socialize. Somehow, that takes pressure off me and gives me the bravery that I need to shake hands with new faces. I can do it. I feel like I have to do it to meet new people. But it’s not the easiest thing in the world.

Do you have a favorite icebreaker or method that you use to open new doors? Please share it here in our blog.

On a personal note, I wanted to give you a “Biggest Looser” update – I have lost 16lbs in almost 5 weeks!!



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  1. janet wilson-irving on April 20, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Congrats Beth!! That is amazing and you must be so proud. Gosh took me months to lose that much but 5 weeks is fantastic. Best of luck – I know how hard it is but hang in there!

  2. Beth Standlee on April 20, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks Janet. It’s good to have some success. I’m logging every point (weight watchers) and work out every day (most days) of the week.


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