Stun Design & Interactive

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Learning Sales from Behind the Bar

Everything I Learned about Sales from Behind the Bar


Before starting STUN over 12 years ago I was a bartender, and a damn fine one! Bartending wasn’t only about making a great drink, it was also about providing great customer service. When I hung up my bar towel to start STUN I thought of myself as a graphic designer or an entrepreneur more than anything else. The title of ‘Salesperson’ never actually crossed my mind. Over the years, and as business has grown, my role in the company has changed quite a bit.

Learning Sales from Behind the Bar

In my heart I am still a designer, but through the years I have come to the realization that my role in the company is now centered on business development. I continue to creative direct, but to grow the business like I envision I must lead the charge in sales. As I reflect on how I got here I realize that I have never had any sales training what-so-ever. So I ask myself, “How do I know what the heck I’m doing?” The only conclusion that I can arrive at is, besides a winning personality, there were several things that shaped my sales skills from tending bar.

Be Knowledgeable

Knowing what’s in a White Russian is important. Being able to make an Old Fashioned is essential. Understanding the right proportions for a good Margarita will keep a customer for life. Knowledge is everything. Keeping up with the latest drink trends (at the time) was key to making drinks that brought customers back the following week. Know your product, know your craft.

Anticipate What Your Customer Needs

The bar I worked at had a ton of regulars. When they walked in the door I always made sure to have their favorite beer cold and ready, a clean ashtray if needed, the tv on the big game, and an order of cheese fries covered in bbq sauce and a side of pickles ready for them. Know what your customers’ needs are and deliver it to them on-time.


I’ve heard a lot of stories from behind the bar. Some good, some sad, some funny, and some downright awful. No matter what was reverberating in my ears I always kept them open, maintained eye contact, and responded when appropriate. Listen thoughtfully, be mindful, and respond accordingly.

Be Responsive

When the waitstaff is calling for a drink or one of your customers needs a refill, take action! Don’t dilly dally with anything else other than providing good service to your customers and your fellow staff. Business is a machine: all the gears need to be running smoothly.

Be Friendly and Genuine

In a bar the beer mug is always half empty, but your attitude should always be that it’s half full. No matter what was going on during the day, hour, or moment I walked into my shift and I had to put on my game face. My customers came to me for a reason. They usually stopped by to get away from something. A friendly smile, truthfulness, and empathy were usually what they were looking for besides a cold brew. Be positive, be transparent, and don’t be fake.


Sancho Loco Tequila? Sir, how about Gran Patron Platinum or Herradura Reposado? They cost a little more, but they are much smoother and I promise you won’t be disappointed. If you have the chance to introduce your customer to something better, do it.

Provide Good Service

Milton Glaser once told me to “Just do good work.” The same goes for service. Provide good service and you won’t need to sell so hard next time. They’ll always come back for more.

category: inspiration , business development