How Not To Sell Things

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By Robert Tuomi

(WINDSOR, ON) – According to a new report by Call Center IQ and NewVoiceMedia on average, “nearly half of consumers (48%) are taking their business elsewhere because they’re not satisfied with the service they’re experiencing. Even more worryingly, many believe that the process of resolving issues is so cumbersome that they will switch without even attempting to make contact.”

This research is most disheartening to those in marketing who spend their days, and often nights, trying to make companies more appealing to their product or service buyers. Often, as these same marketers will tell you, the problem does not rest with those who serve customers but rather originates with the Department of Sales Suppression (DSS) that many companies seem to have put in place. A clue that these departments exist is the prevalence of what the survey found as “cumbersome” processes to resolve customer issues.

The sales suppression departments can be found in any kind of company of any size, from retailers to business-to-business (B2B) organizations. The justification to having such a department, although it is rarely called such, that would certainly frighten the shareholders of publicly traded companies, is the misguided view that companies need to be protected from their customers.

The DSS does this through the development of processes, practices and edicts which are solely designed to put customers in their place. It routinely includes making them jump through hoops or over hurdles or anything else the department’s leaders can think of to reduce their company’s profitability and make it almost impossible for their products or services to be sold.

A recent poster to garage journal.com, known as BarnFab, provides an example of a common sales suppression technique. BarnFab wanted to contact the manufacturer of a polyvinyl floor tile, “but after trying to contact the company that sells it several times I have all but given up.”

Luckily someone from the manufacturer, probably a marketer, saw the post and quickly jumped into action offering to overnight, at company cost, samples to the potential customer in defiance of the DSS and in the end probably pulled success from the jaws of defeat.

Unfortunately BarnFab’s experience is not isolated. The DSS has many operatives in many organizations. In a recent case, in a B2B situation, a telephone caller could not be connected to a salesperson without a full interrogation. It seemed that a receptionist was trying to qualify the customer. This is a deadly mistake for any company in a competitive industry and a sign that a short-sighted DSS manager might have ordered that sales people only talk to bona fide customers. Or it could be that sales staff were not very good and were having trouble talking with customers so the DSS stepped in and solved the problem by eliminating customers.

The presence of a DSS is a good signal that an organization has too much structure and too little co-operation or interaction between its departments. This often happens over time as empires are built and managers squabble with each other to maintain control of their domains rather than focus on customer needs. It can happen in even the smallest of companies, although on a less grand scale.

Too often it is a product of a company working too hard to deal with its customers that it actually abandons customer service. The remedy is easy. Companies should work to be as easy to buy from as their advertising and marketing pretends. Admittedly, this is most often easier said than done.

If you have a question about marketing, you’ve come to the right place. Let us know and we’ll give you an answer to help your business.

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata
Ian writes for and provides imagery to Square Media Group as well as accepting freelance photographic assignments. In addition, he has contributed to media organizations, sporting groups, and individuals across North America including the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Chatham-Kent Sports Network, the Golf Association of Michigan, League 1 Ontario, as well as numerous colleges and universities in Canada and the United States. Email Ian Shalapata

1 Comment on "How Not To Sell Things"

  1. I find that there is very little customer service in the Windsor area including Wal-Mart and Target. Yet when I have shopped in the United States the people working in retail will approach you and ask if you need any help which includes Wal-Mart and Target. There are far and few stores in Windsor were the retail people ask you if you need any help, they seem to disappear when you need them. The key here is customer service, if your business does not provide it your business will end up failing.

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