Sales Prevention

The economy is showing some signs of life, and as a result many of you may be seeing a surge in clientele.
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Are You Really Ready for More Business?

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Dave Chace (dave@trainingallies.com) is president of Training Allies, a CE-focused training firm in Philadelphia.

The economy is showing some signs of life, and as a result many of you may be seeing a surge in clientele. You may think that this is a good thing, but before you get too excited, think again. Yes it’s true that customers are necessary to stay in business. Having a lot of them, however, can be, well, annoying. After all, more customers mean more revenue to count, more trips to the bank to make deposits, finding ways to spend the money, and all the other annoyances associated with success. What a pain.

So rather than dealing with the headaches that come with a thriving business, why not keep things simple and downsize your client list to a manageable few? Adding installation teams to handle more business is hard, but fortunately subtracting customers is easy. All you need is someone who’s highly skilled at aggravating them to the point where they no longer have any desire to do business with you. As a bonus, they will likely tell anyone within earshot not to work with you either, so you effectively kill a flock of birds with one shot.

Here’s my suggestion: if you haven’t done so already, strongly consider creating the position of director of sales prevention for your business. This role apparently has been implemented at numerous companies, and its primary function is to aggressively minimize sales accumulation. It’s a sticky job, so you need the right guy–someone especially talented at delivering dissatisfaction. Here are just a few of the required skills, to help you spot promising candidates:

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Even rookies know that the simplest way to alienate a customer is through lack of communication.

Avoiding Communication
Even rookies know that the simplest way to alienate a customer is through lack of communication. It’s amazing how quickly the telephone can derail a customer relationship, just by not picking it up. Instead, voicemail works as a great tool to annoy the customer gradually by creating the illusion that you’re interested in helping them, without requiring that you actually speak to them. After enough unreturned calls it will finally dawn on the customer that they don’t matter to you, and they will conveniently take their business elsewhere.

Making Customers Feel Stupid
Embarrassing a customer is a more advanced skill that requires some savvy and experience. Customers typically know very little about home technology, and therefore prefer things to be explained in simple fashion. This creates a superb opportunity to disappoint them. A gifted sales prevention specialist will deftly jab them with jargon while annoying them with arrogance. This is the mark of a real pro. It’s not everyone that can talk over the customer’s head while simultaneously looking down their nose at them. It takes practice.

Breaking Promises
Most of us love surprises, but customers don’t. Truly skilled candidates are able to create lofty customer expectations–for instance, that you’ll arrive on the jobsite at specific time–and then miss the mark in spectacular fashion. Polished professionals will even add a lame excuse, like they forgot that daylight savings was over. However as with all the other skills, the key here is repetition. Break one promise and you run the risk of the customer giving you the benefit of the doubt. It takes an established pattern of broken promises for the customer to finally get the hint and abandon ship. If you’re lucky, you might have a qualified candidate for this position already working for youso you can promote from within. If not, don’t worry. Fortunately there is an abundance of qualified candidates out there. When you spot a potential candidate, give him a call. If you never hear back from him, you’ll know you’ve found the right guy.

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