The sales prevention department

If you work in retail you are familiar with the Loss Prevention Department, those men and women who work diligently to reduce inventory shortages, mis-handled cash and theft. For many retailers, the annual cost of these shortages is typically around 1% of sales. It adds up.

I wonder what would happen if you started a Sales Prevention Department.

First, you’d identify the most senior executive who regularly stands in the way of innovation and growth and who is afraid to take action on those stupid polices and procedures that get in the way of a compelling customer experience. You make that person the Chief Sales Prevention Officer (“CSPO”).

Then you transfer all the employees who stand in the way of sensible sales and profit growth.

I’m not talking about the ones who rightly worry about legal, compliance and financial reporting standards. You know the ones.

The sales associate who doesn’t wait on potential clients because they don’t “look like” serious spenders. The manager that perpetuates processes that make the customer re-enter the same information over and over again. The Vice President who stands in the way of a new idea because it will “cannibalize” existing sales. The folks that anchor on product and channel-centric practices, instead of promoting customer-centric ones. Pretty much all the vigorous defenders of the status quo; they all get to be part of this new group.

Then, when business gets tough, instead of doing a broad-based expense reduction initiative, or an across the board series of lay-offs, you will know where to start.

Actually, now that I think about it a bit more, since you’ve just formed the Sales Prevention department, why don’t you take those actions right now?

5 thoughts on “The sales prevention department

  1. Excellent way to look at the dangers of defenders of the status quo during this market upheaval. If we don’t do all we can to encourage clients, we might as well just close up shop and go home.

  2. Excellent metaphor –

    In so many places it’s the largest and most powerful department! I have seen a scary 80:20 so often, it’s a miracle how the weaker minority still manage to sell something, satisfy some customers, generate some shareholder value.

    I’m starting to think seriously how this (humorous but very valid) concept can be made viral and become mass corporate folklore. Then it may not even need whistle-blowers, if it virally reaches those that matter – the shareholders. (Not wise to engage top management, as the SPD is often a Division headed at C- and Board level)…

    Business needs its own ‘Arab spring’ – can a ‘joke’ like this be one of the triggers?

  3. This same metaphor can be illustrated with websites. 99% of websites have less than a 2% conversion rate. The people who are blocking your sales are often the same people in charge of the website and online marketing.

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