Sales Prevention Department – Do you have one?

by Nancy on March 30, 2011

The other day on my way to an appointment, I went by the local Delta Sonic to get my car washed.  I requested the Works which includes an interior and exterior wash and a 5-day Wash Guarantee.  I asked if I could get the interior cleaning done when I came back in 5 days.

The attendant told me that you have to get the interior done on the day of purchase.  I explained that I had to be at an appointment and didn’t have time for the interior today.  “Sorry, that’s our policy.”  So I settled for the Super Kiss instead. 

I was baffled as I drove away because I realized that I was just talked out of an upsell.  Delta Sonic spends a lot of time and money on training their employees to upsell.  I know this because I’m always asked if I want my tires dressed, my body glossed or my air freshened.

So why would they create a policy that would have me downgrade my purchase?

I own a business.  If my clients want to give me money in advance for a service, I’m okay with that.  What I’m not okay with is preventing people who want to buy from buying. 

Here’s another example from a recent dinner at an Italian restaurant.

Nancy: I’d like the chicken parmigiana with the side salad.  Can I get Italian dressing with crumbly bleu cheese?

Server: There’s an extra charge for the bleu cheese.

N: That’s fine.  And can I get a different pasta on the side?

S: Sorry, we don’t make substitutions.

N: Even if I pay extra?

S: Uh, let me check.

S: Yeah, no we don’t make substitutions because it comes with fettucine

N: Oh, fettucine alfredo? Great.

S: No, it comes with red sauce.  If you want alfredo sauce, that’s extra.

Maybe it’s just me but I would rather they raise the price of every item on their menu by one or two dollars than put me through this every time I want to order. 

Now lest you think that I am “hyper” aware of sales prevention (thus attracting it to me!), I’m also aware of great customer service that makes me want to buy more.

Just yesterday I was at Barnes & Noble buying a book.  That I was at Barnes & Noble is not remarkable.  I go there quite frequently to browse and work in their coffee shop.  That I was actually buying a book is remarkable because I prefer to make my purchases at which is much cheaper.

But I had to have this book yesterday so I had no other choice and believe me, I was not happy about paying the inflated price.

So when I got up to the counter and the woman inquired if I had a Barnes & Noble membership which would save me 20% on my purchase, I regrettably said no.  I then half-heartedly mentioned, “But my boyfriend has one.” 

To my shock, she said, “Great.  Give me his phone number and I can look up his membership.”  I was beyond thrilled. 

I don’t know if this is Barnes & Noble policy or not and I don’t care.  The point is, with that one gesture, I went from feeling disgruntled to elated at “having” to purchase from them. 

And how does Barnes & Noble benefit?  Now that I know using his discount is a possibility, I’m much more likely to go back and purchase books when my need for instant gratification kicks in.  Amazon is cheap but I also wait 7-10 days for my books!

So where are sales being prevented in your business?  Are you guilty of having idiotic policies or employees who aren’t empowered to delight your customers?

If you have any sales prevention stories, I’d love to hear them.  Comment below!

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