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I’m in the process of booking a hotel for a workshop I plan to deliver shortly. My assistant did some initial legwork and I did some follow-up calling. I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was to reach someone to say “Can I give you money for a meeting room?”

There I was, credit card in hand yet for several hotels, no-one seemed to care much at all that I was ready to buy. For others, I felt like an unwelcomed intrusion in their day.  I honestly felt like I reached the “sales prevention” department.

Every so often, it’s important for us to take a look at our own business processes particularly when it comes to creating an easy sales process for prospects and clients. I’d invite you to check whether you may be engaging in any of these 5 sales prevention strategies:

Payment hassles:
Folks, we‘re in the electronic age. Online payments have long since become the norm. I can’t remember the last time I actually wrote a check. Even my landscaper has online payments now. It costs as little as $29 or less to accept credit cards payments online for your business. So why not add online payments and make it easy for people to pay you?  It’s such a drag when I ask “Can I pay online?” and the answer is “No.”  Especially when I have to do repeat payments.  Consider your clients, ask them what they want, as payment hassles can surely become a sales prevention strategy.

Voicemail trauma:
Press 1 for this, press 3 for that, press 6 for this. Is there a human around? A lot of small businesses, in their attempts to sound grand, purchase those automated voicemail systems. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, be careful that it’s not actually turning away sales. Make it simple for your customers and clients to reach you, and focus on creating a personal experience as well. Become your customer for a minute and pretend you wanted to buy something. Check out what it feels like on the other end so that you‘re not creating sales prevention via voicemail.

Follow-up neglect:
I’ve met so many people in networking meetings where I expressed an interest in doing business with them. Unfortunately, more often than not, they do not follow up and I end up contacting them a second time. It’s quite surprising when you think about it, yet lack of follow-up is more common that you’d expect. Ironically,  these are the same folks who say they need more clients.  

Be sure your prospects and customers are getting swift follow up when they contact you or you might just be engaging in sales prevention. If you are too busy to follow-up, then it’s probably time to get some help with a virtual assistant or live help. Check out,, or look into getting an intern from a local college. Be sure that lack of follow-up isn’t contributing to sales prevention in your business.

Mystery contact info:
I’ve visited many web sites where I’m clicking around thinking “Where are you located?” and the answer cannot be found anywhere. This is probably true for a lot of solo entrepreneurs with home offices. But for $20 you can get a UPS mailbox with a physical address rather than remaining mysterious to your visitor. When I don’t see a physical address and phone number, it makes me pause and wonder if I’m dealing with a real company. I get skeptical. Include your contact information on every page of your web site - make it easy.  You could be engaging in sales prevention simply by not having complete contact information on your web site or business card.

Untrained help:
I’m totally in favor of delegation because I believe you must get help in order to grow your business. Whether it be virtual assistants or people physically present, you’ll need help at some point. But as soon as you have staff, you have to be willing to train them. I myself have been guilty of training staff only on tasks. It is equally (if not more) important to train staff on your business goals, the experience you want your customers to have, how to deal with complaints and the overall big picture. So be prepared to train as you begin to delegate and get help. Because untrained staff may be contributing to daily sales prevention.


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Leah Curry wrote Apr 2, 2009
    • Allison, as I was reading this I had this picture in my head of you with the credit cards in your hand starring the staff down while mumbling interjections in your head. I am probably reading too much into the situation. Customer service is definitely not the way it used to be. I really enjoyed reading your very informative blog. I am guilty of not having contact information on every page of my website.  

      I have actually experienced two more issues and they are talking to a live person over the phone who is rude or trying to explain an issue over the phone to someone who does not understand you (usually reciprocated) because English is not their primary language. Both to me are frustrating, but only one will make me walk away from a service or product. I will never forgive rudeness, but I can tolerate language barriers. Both will probably fall under untrained/unqualified staff because they are people issues.  

      Not to say that language barriers makes you unqualified. If my primary language is English and I am having trouble installing or building an item I just purchased I want to speak with someone who understands me and I them. Customer service has been an issue for Corporations who have their call centers in another country and in some cases “sales prevention strategies” were implemented, enforced and blogged about. By the way I love the phrase “sales prevention strategies“.  

      Being rude to a client or customer in any situation is not a wise thing to do. Word of mouth when positive is the best promotion any business can get. If negative, then greater numbers of people will hear about it and be turned away from doing business with you. As people we tend to spread the negative more than the positive.

      Thanks for sharing!


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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Allison Babb wrote Apr 3, 2009
    • Glad you‘re enjoying the blog.  And yes, frustrations with customer service can be a real pain if that experience is not managed well within the business.

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