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The Sullivan nod is a theoretical sales technique used to create a subconscious suggestion to a customer to purchase one particular item out of a list of like items. It is used most frequently by bartenders and waiters when reciting lists of items (such as alcohol or wine) in the hopes of getting the customer to select a particular brand. A Sullivan nod is executed by nodding slightly, by approximately 10–15 degrees, when the item it is hoped the customer will choose is reached. The key is to make the nod perceptible, yet subtle, so as to not distract.[1] Originator, restaurant consultant, Jim Sullivan, claims that it works up to 60% of the time. (This in itself is another subtle form of manipulation, as "up to 60%" is essentially meaningless.) [2] Sullivan developed the nod technique as a method to increase appetizer sales.

The term Sullivan Nod is referred to in the training pamphlet "A Hospitality Style of Service that Sells" given to new employees of the Bertucci's Italian Restaurant chain. In an illustrative dialogue with a guest, it is suggested that the server propose a bottle of Chianti and the suggested dialogue concludes with ' "Shall I get you a bottle?" (Sullivan Nod) '. [3]


  1. Loeffler, William (July 21, 2004). "Think you tip based solely on good service? Think again". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2008-06-20.
  2. Sullivan, Jim (2004-09-01). "If you’re not out selling you’re being outsold". Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  3. "A Hospitality Style Of Service That Sells - Italian Bertucci's Restaurant" page 17.

See also


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