salesThe Sales Prevention Department is one of my favourite departments in any business.

All businesses have one, some more finely tuned than others. A stand-out in my neck of the woods is a local premium car dealer. Not once, but twice has this dealer missed out on a lucrative sale because their SPD did such an extraordinary job.

Most recently, Michelle and I decided to trade her Audi TT two-seater roadster for something a little more practical, if not quite so much fun. Her elderly parents have been finding it increasingly difficult to lower themselves into the convertible (and she can only carry one of them at a time) and besides, there’s nowhere for her very hairy dog, except the passenger seat.

So we trundled down to the local Audi dealer the other day to see what was on offer. After the obligatory tour of the showroom’s bright-shiny new models, the sales manager instructed his rookie young salesman to call me during the week and arrange a trade-in valuation on the roadster. He duly wrote down my number and promised to call me on Wednesday.

With thanks to the Audi dealer's Sales Prevention Department, Michelle ends up with a VW Polo isntead

With thanks to the Audi dealer’s Sales Prevention Department, Michelle ends up with a VW Polo isntead

And then…and then…nothing happened. This did not really surprise me. Three years ago I’d visited this same dealer, ticked a bunch of option boxes on a new Audi Q5 SUV, asked the salesman to add it all up and give me a call, and went home. I never heard from him again. Four days later, I bought a new Range Rover Sport instead.

This time, I waited more than a week. I refused to call him and do his job for him. I’m a stubborn guy, but eventually his disdain for my money wore me down. I gave up waiting, drove down to a neighbouring yard where they sell Audi’s sister cars, VW, and bought a new Polo GTI there and then.

Now, you don’t sell expensive cars. You sell hair & beauty services, of one kind or another. But I bet you have a well-tuned SPD too. Answer the following questions with a Yes or a No.

  • When a first-time walk-in or phone caller inquires about an appointment, prices, services or anything else, do you
    a) have a process in place to obtain her name and contact details on the spot, in exchange for a small gift voucher to use on her first booking? Or…
    b) do you simply let them walk out of your shop with a wave and a smile, never to be seen again?
  • Assuming you don’t have a full-time receptionist, and have to let some calls go through to your answering machine, do you
    a) Check the answering machine at frequent intervals during the day, and return sales inquiries instantly, or
    b) check the machine at the end of the day, and make a mental to note to get back to them tomorrow…or maybe the day after…or next week…?
  • When you place an ad, distribute a mailbox flyer, email an offer or post a special promotion on your Facebook page/website, do you
    a) divert your salon phone to a mobile to make sure that prospects reading your offer after business hours can actually call and buy your offer right away, or
    b) not bother, assuming they’ll leave a message on the answering machine that you or your staff check sometimes…if you/they remember?

If you answered ‘b’ to any of these questions, congratulations – your Sales Prevention Department is in good shape. But it can always be fine-tuned further. For example,

  • When a client is at reception paying their bill, do you
    a) ask her an open question such as “Now Mary, just looking ahead four weeks, we have a spot available on Tuesday the 14th at 10am or Thursday the 16th at 3pm, which of those two would suit your best?” Or do you
    b) Simply ask a lazy “Would you like to re-book?” – to which there is only a yes or no answer, and of course 90% of people will say ‘no, but thanks.’
  • You’ve spent hours, days, weeks preparing your special offer, you’ve spent more time and money printing, buying newspaper space, do you
    a) spend an equal amount of time training the staff on exactly how to respond to the phone calls generated from the marketing campaign, right down to the exact words to say to upsell to a higher-value package. Or do you
    b) run the ad or distribute the flyer, having neglected to actually tell the staff you’re doing it.

Again, if you answered ‘b’ to those as well, your Sales Prevention Department is working a treat. After all, business is so much easier when you don’t have all those pesky customers, nagging you to take their money.


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