More Sales Prevention

I am thinking that to be as good at sales prevention as some companies are, and still exist, it is because they have a monopoly or near monopoly, or their entire competitor base operates the same way.

Today’s sales prevention example, which is stunning in so many ways, is Comcast.

I recently needed to add Comcast service at a new address. I am not currently a Comcast customer. Being thoroughly up to date, I went to the web site to see how to get new service. Turns out you can’t. Their website apparently is focused only on existing customers, or people looking for a store. I finally decided to chat with someone and they were able to give me a phone # to call.

That person was quite helpful and told me I could have their 1G service at the new address. That was awesome since AT&T was offering 18MB at the same location. (I am thinking that is just a bit over dial-up speed). Got all signed up.

The next day, late in the day I got a vm message telling me they had a question about the address, and I needed to call. I did, pushed 1 for service since that was the instruction if they had called you. Phone went silent for over a minute. Hung up, tried again. Same result.

Next call I tried acting as if I was a new customer, thinking they might actually care about that (despite how difficult it is to find a # to call them if you actually are a new customer). Got a great young woman on the phone who proceeded to tell me I had no order in their system and that clearly I had talked to a 3rd party provider who had not entered my order correctly. I told her that wasn’t actually possible since I had an email from them. Anyway she decided to re-enter my order and advised that 1G service was not available at the address but I could have 250MB (400MB also not available). Disappointed was I, but still better than 18MB, she signed me up, gave me the same appointment I had before from the fake Comcast person, sent me my confirmation emails; and all done.

Today, I decided to go online and look at my account and see what was going on. Can’t access my online account. No reason given, just can’t. So I decided maybe it wasn’t set up yet so I tried to set one up. I end up in a loop asking me to create a password, that never seems to take but does not give me a message about why.

So, I call them (I have a # now). Talk to a guy on the phone who advises that you can’t set up an account without actual Comcast equipment, which I won’t have until installation.

Seriously, if these people actually had to compete with a real competitor they’d be all done. But they don’t, so they aren’t.

Do you have that luxury? I doubt it, so make sure your “sales prevention department” is not in action.


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Sales Prevention, Or At Least Impediment

Last week I posted an example of brick and mortar suicide. Today’s example is a brick and mortar store (Target) but it is really

Recently a friend of the family had her first child. We wanted to get her something to recognize the birth and found out she had registered at Target and on My wife then went to to find an appropriate item to buy. We have used other online registries and they are usually good at showing you what has been listed that is not yet purchased by anyone. Even after finally buying two things for the mother, my wife is not 100% certain what she bought wasn’t already purchased by others as the site never updated after she finally found a way to buy.

It took her fully 30 minutes and 3 tries at the shopping cart to buy the two items she wanted and get them gift wrapped and provide a card (well actually 2 cards because won’t let you combine the gifts into one package). The user interface made no sense and the site made it a challenge to try to buy. In the age of, this is beyond unacceptable. Is it no wonder these other retailers struggle to get any consequential e-commerce business. Who designs these sites and who is doing the user interface work? If it is an allegedly skilled person, somebody needs to check their work. If it is an amateur, somebody needs to review Target’s online strategy.

You can argue they got the sale, so what. The so-what is that is the last sale they will get online unless we have the misfortune of having someone else register with them.


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And More Brick and Mortar Suicide

It never ceases to amaze me how brick and mortar retailers find more ways to do themselves in while blaming e-tailers for their plight. Today’s example is Big 5 Sporting Goods. To be fair I rarely shop there, but have a few times over the years.

A few days ago we saw an ad for air mattresses and sleeping bags; two things we needed. Rather than buy them online from amazon, we decided to go to the local Big 5 to buy them there. Waste of time … unfortunately.

It was difficult if not impossible to figure out in the store what was actually on-sale and what features the various products offered. The signs on the sleeping bags suggested their “regular price” suggesting, at least to us, there was some other price available, but that was difficult to actually figure out.

After spending about 10 minutes trying to decide what to buy, we went to get help. At our Big 5 the only employees available to help you are the two cashiers. Thus you have to wait until they have cleared everyone in line before they can help. The cashier was friendly and modestly knowledgeable, but really left us more confused.

We decided to go home and buy them on amazon. Easy, probably about the same price, and, no hassle with lots of info. Too bad they lost the sale … to amazon. Not really, they lost the sale to lack of service. But at least their advertising got us into the store.


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Can You “Manufacture” Customers?

Digging through our archives we found this article from the 1999 issue of Electronic Business that Ralph wrote. It does not appear to be available online (even though the world-wide web existed back then), so we are posting it here as an image that you can read.








Mitch & Ralph

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If You Can’t Fix It, Feature It: Part 6

As I said in the prior five posts in this series, one of my Group Executives at Teledyne, Roy Fields, said those words to me (If you can’t fix it, feature it) and they have proven hugely valuable. This sign is just another example of how great that thinking can be.

It’s also a great example of how to respond to negative reviews.








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Radio Interview 1600 AM/95.9 FM Albuquerque New Mexico

I had the great pleasure to be interviewed on Terry White’s weekly radio show, Focus on Biz, about marketing. We spent a lot of the time talking about bringing new things to market as his adult children were preparing to launch a new to the market business and we spent a fair amount of the interview talking about the challenges of being first to market.

I was thrilled to learn that the radio station felt this was the best of Terry’s interviews ever. (Just bragging, but he did say so.)

Give it a listen.


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Erasing a Problem Brand the Easy Way

Bayer is buying Monsanto. Many Americans recognize Bayer as aspirin, but really they are a global drug maker based in Germany. Monsanto is a global agri-products maker with a truly bad brand reputation at this point. So, smartly, Bayer is going to end the Monsanto name. Normally killing off a 117 year old, well-recognized brand would be a dubious strategy. In this case it is genius, since the Monsanto brand has become toxic.

Bayer will keep the product names/brands and claims they intend to “…deepen their dialogue with society.” And “…listen to our critics.” Time will tell how this goes, but meanwhile they are able to shed the baggage that became the Monsanto name.


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