Why Sales Prevention Departments are a Good Thing

Entrepreneurs live to fix impossibly stupid rules and attitudes.

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GL Hoffman

Do you have a Sales Prevention Department at your company or business? If you do, on behalf of all us entrepreneurs, a big "thank you," and a request to please keep this part of the business flourishing. It is what makes America great—entrepreneurs fixing your impossible and stupid rules and attitudes.

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Some examples:

“Yesterday, I was at the dry cleaners, standing in front of an employee as she slowly entered the last order into her computer, even though that previous customer had left the store. She didn't even acknowledge that I was standing there.”

Have you noticed that no one monitors this department? It just rambles on, throwing up roadblocks and totally upsetting customers and prospects. Entrepreneurs love this, because fixing it is generally simple and can lead to a company that effectively differentiates itself.

"Why is it that when you make an airline reservation online that they do not use a 24-hour clock, i.e. 2200 for 10 pm. I can't tell how many times I have nearly selected the wrong time, especially when they make you select both segments. I feel like they are tricking me."

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No one seems to much care about fixing the Sales Prevention department. It must be someone else's job. I would like to nominate the human resources department as the Sales Prevention prevention committee. (Obviously, the solution should come from sales—someone there should be identifying these issues. But, you know, those sales people…can't trust them.) HR is the one department who can fix the Sales Prevention Department, for several reasons. First, HR sees all. They have their hands in everything. Second, they are always talking about being more relevant. Evidently, a lot of companies mistreat their HR departments, making them handle all the forms, insurance, and benefits. HR people want to contribute. Getting rid of the Sales Prevention Department, or SPD, is one way to make enormous contributions.

"This week my wife wanted to take a friend who was in town and her young daughter to get a manicure. When she called the salon to make an appointment the receptionist said that a party of three was considered a “group” and that my wife would have to go online and download the “Group Form” and fax it in… before she could accept the reservation. They went to lunch and a movie instead."

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One trendy topic over the last few years has been “branding.” For all you normal people out there, who want to work hard and make a name for yourself inside your company, the fastest way to do so is to be the person that recognizes and fixes your SPD. There is nothing more exciting to a CEO than having help solving the problems that get in the way of sales. By the way, you cannot simply identify the Sales Prevention problem, you have to be able to suggest solutions. In other words, fix it.

If you don't, someone like Steve Jobs will.

G. L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig , which operates LinkUp , one of the fastest-growing job search engines. His blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com .


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