Yell, the UK based parent of Yellow Book USA has decided it no long needs regional sales offices and will go virtual, closing 18 satellite sales offices with the option to use the Regus PLC companies’ network of 140 UK business centers (press release). The move is suppose to save Yell about £1.5 million a year.
But will that be a more efficient setup for sale management to both monitor their team’s efforts and work with their reps??? Yell is very proud to say that “…continual developments in technology over the last 12 to 18 months, Yell’s sales teams have increasingly been undertaking many traditional office based activities online, on-the-move, with the office network mainly used for team meetings…”
For the 700 reps I can see how they might like the convenience of being able to be more work-form-home centric, and to be able to avoid the direct inquiry of a sales manager, but the company’s press release also labeled them as “…on-the-road consultants..” Hum.
Much of the success the Yellow Page industry has been built on was based on being able to be right there in front of a small/mid-sized business, to look them directly in the eye to understand where their business was positioned and bring them solutions that are matched to their needs. That personal, relationship building contact is still a critical cornerstone for sales success. For sales management, it is a similar situation — being able to work face-to-face with reps in the morning before they started out their day, and then assess how they did when results were collected at the end of day, often in a group setting, often with results usually posted on a big board in the sales offices. Now that’s all going to be done over the phone and with a spreadsheet??
Mark Dixon, CEO of Regus plc commented in the release “…More and more organizations are beginning to adopt more agile, lower risk, lower costs ways of working. The question of how, where and when we work is an important issue for all of us and those business that are able to respond in the most flexible way will secure the greatest competitive advantage…”.
True, but at what cost?? How would you do if where managing your sales team remotely like this??