Do You Have a Sales Prevention Department?

Over the weekend, I went for lunch to a well-known restaurant famous for its salads. I walked up to the counter to order my food from the employee. She was busy typing into her computer for a previous customer, even though that customer had already left the restaurant. She didn't even acknowledge that I was standing there.

Welcome to the Sales Prevention Department. Have you noticed that the vast majority of businesses seem to have this department, but no one seems to be monitoring it? It’s like an invisible Mack truck roaring through an organization, throwing up roadblocks, upsetting patients and prospects and hurting your bottom line.

Another example is the waitress who doesn’t bother to offer you dessert or more drinks, and abruptly drops the check off at your table. Or the local company you’re calling to come fix your IT issues, that keep you on hold for ages, or forgets to return your call. Or, as happened to me this week, the law firm secretary who insists on getting a signed contract for every possible new instruction before work can commence, instead of a single one that’s flexible enough to encompass everything.

Sales Prevention Departments are infuriating for customers, but they’re a lot worse for business owners. It’s like having a huge gaping hole in your business that money pours out of, and we don’t even know exists!

Here are some more common examples of how your Sales Prevention Department may already be hard at work in your practice:

· Signage to your practice isn’t great, people often get confused where to go. From the road, it’s practically invisible.
· Once they arrive, they’re left waiting for ten minutes (or longer) before their consult. That may be acceptable in an insurance-based medical practice where a physician might see 50 patients a day, but it’s certainly not acceptable in elective medicine. Patients are choosing to visit you because they want to — not because they have to.
· The directions on your website aren’t clear. There’s no map, and if there are directions, they’re only written out.
· Your website isn’t optimized for mobile. It’s too hard to find information. Website vistors can’t call your office with one touch of a button.
· Your incoming calls aren’t answered live within the first three rings, and they’re left to go to voicemail.
· You require patients to complete extensive paperwork before even seeing you for an initial consult. Even worse, the paperwork is presented with a beaten-up-looking clipboard and cheap-looking pen.
· Inquiry forms from the web aren’t responded to on the same day (or sometimes, at all).
· No evening appointments available (by far these are the most requested appointments in medical practices).
· Patients who cancel appointments aren’t called back to reschedule — that lead is usually lost forever.

Look at your practice through fresh eyes, and identify all the possible roadblocks to a patient moving forward with you. The bottom line is that you want all your staff to make it as easy as possible for patients to say “Yes!” — not to throw up obstacles in their way that leave them frustrated and off to book a consult with your competition instead.