Philie Group Blog

Sales Prevention Departments
By Mike Philie

Businesses have client facing teams that are made from a combination of business development reps, account managers, and customer service or project managers. Different companies have different titles for these groups, but they fill the role of hunting for new business, customer retention, order processing, and problem solving. So where is the sales prevention department located? Hopefully you don’t have one, but if you did, you’d know it.

Make it Easy for Customers to Say “Yes”

It’s always been hard to find new business, but even more difficult when an industry is in transition. We see print spend allocation changing within client budgets – either increasing or decreasing, depending upon the space they are in. Another area of change is how clients use print to drive their business and how providers are producing it. And lastly, the traditional full time print buyer has all but disappeared. With those external headwinds, the last thing someone responsible for bringing in business needs is to deal with an internal department or person who makes it difficult for them to do their job. Hence, what’s known as a sales prevention department.

Identify the Speed Bumps in Your Operation

This idea doesn’t condone the behavior of the reps who drop and run and those who are bullies and just run over everyone to get their work done. Rather, the internal folks who are categorized as sales preventors are those who find every reason to say no to a customer request or inquiry. Be that taking forever to get quotes, pricing, and schedules to those who are trying to give you work, or not responding to requests for information in a timely manner. These are the same folks in your company who might ask why do we even need sales reps?

This is a Team Sport

As Coach Herb Brooks said in the movie Miracle on Ice, “the name on the front of the jersey is a heck of a lot more important than the name on the back of the jersey.” Working collectively as a team can help minimize these internal obstacles. My observation is that companies that are led by those who are actively engaged with customers tend to not have many of these impediments within their organization. They simply won’t allow it to happen. They have a keen understanding of the importance of delivering an exceptional customer experience and it’s part of everything they do and believe in.

Learning Moments

Remember, you get what you tolerate. So, if you suspect there might be roadblocks to delivering a great customer experience and helping customers say “wow” when the project is over, look around you and take a sobering assessment of who’s playing as a team, and who may be playing by their own rules. This becomes a learning moment, as you’ll have the opportunity to share with them why clients are important to those who may think differently. Flatten those sales prevention departments or better yet, create a culture where they never have an opportunity to form in the first place.

Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic direction, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.comLinkedIn or email at


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