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. Originator, restaurant consultant, Jim Sullivan, claims that it works up to 60% of the time.
Sullivan developed the nod technique as a method to increase appetizer sales.