Monthly Archives: January 2012

Getting the sales call started

In Yellow Pages sales, it’s a super critical moment.  You’ve finally scored that face-to-face meeting with the decision maker at a potential new advertiser.  You’ve done your prep work and you’re ready to rock and roll.  But you are not really sure (comfortable) with how to best get the ball rolling, to get past the first few awkward moments of small talk and start building a business relationship.  You can feel that knot building in your stomach.

Some people can start up conversations with complete strangers with total ease.  It almost seems natural to them.  You’ve seen them at business meetings, cocktail hours, new coworkers at lunch, or even with new customers.  They seem to have the gift of getting the conversation going seamlessly.  If you find yourself struggling to get these sales meetings rolling, here are a few tips to consider:

1. Take a deep breath:  As you start this process don’t lose sight of your overall objective – you just want to establish a repore with this person, one that can make the business part of the conversation flow much easier.  From the advertisers prospective, when was the last time anyone wanted to spend 15 minutes or more just hearing about them??  Most likely that hasn’t even happened with their spouse.  You also want to get yourself comfortable and settled so you can do your job – identifying needs that this business has.  If you let them speak 80% of the time, then you will be considered as a courteous, trust worthy person. Given that most small business owners are busy people (or at least want to be perceived that way), they will make it very clear when they are ready to switch from chit-chat to business.

2. Start by making the first move – Simply put, you take the initiativeGet that hand out, put your best smile on, and start the greeting. When you make the first move, you create some energy and project yourself in a confident manner. It takes a little practice if you are uncomfortable doing it, and we’re not suggesting you over do this – you don’t want to be diving across the desk to tackle them.  With a little practice you will start the conversation stronger and it makes the early small talk a lot easier.

3. Find common ground fast… “Common ground” are those life intersection points we seek with people we meet for the first time. This is how we connect with people we do not know.  Current weather is an overly simplistic one and not very unique one.  It could be geography, education, hobbies, kids, colleges, sport teams or many others which can make up the general opening topics of conversation. My suggestion is you be quickly looking around in that decision makers office – what pictures do they have out, do they have their college football teams schedule up, an award they have received, something to help you get started.  The general rule of thumb is to then take no more than two good shots (three at most) at finding common ground in a conversation with someone. If you have nothing in common, ok, don’t feel bad about it. They know it too. Most likely they will want to just get down to business at that point.

4. Have some go-to questions ready – News flash:  people like to talk about themselves. Questions are the way to activate that desire, but to truly create actual interest you will need a couple of interesting questions. Be clear that you are not looking for an opening to launch into a long monologue about yourself or your business (yet). You are trying to take a sincere interest in the other person. I encourage you to develop questions in these categories:

— Future predictions:  If they are sports fans, ask the person what they believe will happen in the next year for their favorite team.  2012 is going to be a big year for politics, but I wouldn’t suggest you go there as there is at least a 50/50 chance they are on the other side of spectrum.  The point is to create dialogue, and speculation about the future does just that.

— What’s changed: Ask the person what changes have occurred in the particular area of family, sports, business or some other topic over the past year. This creates a conversation rather than an interrogation with monosyllabic answers.  For example, kids grow quickly – that picture from the kids soccer game is probably a couple of years old.  Are they still playing?

5. Silence is ok – I’m sure you have a friend like my buddy Amy who feels the need to fill every silence of longer than 2-3 seconds. This gets her trapped into conversations that she would like to exit, but has to re-engage in to avoid awkward moments. Let the silence hang for a moment.  

6. For how long?  This is the toughest one to gauge.  I’ve seen people that want to get right to business and others that will want to chat for an hour.  The point is — be patient.  At some point they will turn to you and say “…what do you have?” That’s the cue to open up your binder/case/whatever and start the formal part of the conversation. 

 

Good luck and good selling……

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News U Can Use – January

These news items are brought to you by Kuk & Baldwin:

AUTO MARKET.     Sales and leases of all passenger vehicles, new and used, fell significantly between 2007 and 2009 – with new cars dropping 36% and used cars 14%.   The figures for 2010 are being compiled but are not expected to show any turnaround.   But in spite of the statistical decline in used car sales, there is now a strong demand for used cars.   One big reason is that people are keeping their cars longer.   Also, smaller, more fuel-efficient models less than 10 years old have increased in value, some 20% to near 30%.   All of this is good news for the repair business, since increases in value can better justify decisions to do major repairs rather than trade (Auto Body Repair News, 11/18/11).

2011-2012 COST/VALUE REPORT.     With the housing market still in the doldrums, the figures for cost recoupment of remodeling jobs are still lagging way behind their peaks in 2005.   For example, the highest recoupment within 2 years is now siding replacement with fiber-cement, at only 78%.   Other recoupment percentages include:  siding replacement (vinyl), 70%; roofing replacement, 58%; “minor” kitchen remodel up to $20,000, 72%; window replacements (vinyl), 69%; window replacements (wood), 66%; and bathroom remodels, 62%.   As you might expect, most of the highest recoupment projects are exterior and/or add curb appeal to make the property more saleable (Remodeling, 11/11).

THE FINAL PARTY.     The National Funeral Directors Association says that the US average cost of a complete funeral is now about $7800.   But new data from an AARP survey of people over 50 suggest that more people are deviating from tradition:  (1) only 23% have prepaid at least part of funeral expenses for themselves or someone else; (2) 34% have planned part of their own or someone else’s “final party”; and (3) 79% have done no comparison shopping for professional funeral services.   Indeed, as more people take matters into their own hands, the funeral services market will likely become more and more specialized and may require some ad targeting in the YP (Wall St. Journal, 10/31/11).

Find out how to be at the top of your sales performance by clicking on www.kukbaldwin.com.

Other recent media/advertising news:

Sorrell and Nadal Project Ad Growth in 2012
Though the U.S. economic outlook is still pretty grim, the prospect for ad spending is brighter for the coming year, according to leaders of WPP Group and MDC Partners. Martin Sorrell of WPP said his company’s figures for November were better than expected, and “we continue to see good momentum.” And MDC’s Miles Nadal said that in a low interest-rate environment, companies are concluding they’ll see a “superior rate of return” from spending on marketing. (Source)

Online Spending Growing & Almost Ready to Surpass Newspapers

Online spending rose from $15.1 billion to $19.5 billion from Nov. 1 to Dec. 4 compared with last year, according to comScore. But that may dip temporarily as “online retailers typically reduce their promotional activity as they attempt to restore their margins,” warns comScore’s Gian Fulgoni. Upper middle class earners led the early charge, possibly experiencing what Fulgoni called “austerity fatigue.”  (Source)

Add to that, this chilling reality: Newspaper advertising may be overtaken by online platforms as the leading spot for local ad dollars in 2013, according to a projection by Borrell Associates. Currently, digital accounts for 17.5% of local ad spending while newspapers hold 22.7%. But online growth of 20%, led by 66% growth in mobile ad spending, is expected to outpace the 5% growth across all media next year. (Source)

More newspaper horrors:  Gannett’s third-quarter results showed an uptick in nonpolitical TV ad revenues, a 27.5% gain in digital advertising revenues at TV station properties and a 26.7% gain in retransmission fees. On the print side, national advertising at USA TODAY and other Gannett properties dropped 17%. Overall, digital gained 10%, totaling $272.6 million for the quarter.  (Source)

Here Fido:  Americans continue to ramp up spending on pets
U.S. spending this year on pet products is expected to be a little more than $50 billion, per American Pet Products Association data, a record-setting figure for the industry. Meanwhile, Mintel predicts that spending in this sector will grow 33% over the next five years.  (Source)

For Digital Giants, It’s Been A Long Road to Revenue Land
Yellow Page publishers would do well to note this most recent article:  For both Google and Facebook, the road to significant revenue has been a long one along which the digital giants having to make numerous adjustments along the way. Common to both has been opportunities in catering to smaller local and niche businesses looking to target consumers based on interest and location. (Source)

Population Shift – Heading to the Cities
Almost all of the U.S. population growth between 2000 and 2010 was urban, according to an analysis of the latest census data. Marketers are responding to this trend by ramping up products and services aimed at city dwellers. For example, Ikea is putting more of a focus on furniture designed for small spaces, while some big-box retailers are scaling down their store size to fit city centers. (Source)

 

 

 

Simba Yellow Pages Acquired by IMS

Breaking news today is the announcement that Integrity Marketing Solutions of Kansas City have acquired Simba Yellow Pages from Marketresearch.com.  IMS specializes in marketing services for estate planning and elder law.  Specific terms were not disclosed.

Simba Yellow Pages has covered the yellow pages industry for more than two decades publishing research books and compiling custom research projects for publishers, suppliers and financial investors to the industry.   It’s most important asset, David Goddard, has been the editor and senior analyst for more than a decade.  Goddard will now continue with the efforts as the executive vice president for IMS Local Search Authority (Simba Yellow Pages). Prior to joining Simba, Goddard was an editor and publisher for Eagle Publishing Group.

In the company’s press release, Kyle Krull, president of Integrity Marketing Solutions commented: “We believe we have a winning combination.  Bringing Dave Goddard’s industry insight and leadership together with Integrity Marketing’s powerhouse media and marketing team gives the yellow pages industry an unparalleled ally in today’s challenging market environment.”

“Over the coming weeks and months Simba Yellow Pages will transform to become your go-to resource for breaking news, insight and analysis for the evolution of the yellow pages and local search markets,” IMS CEO Jennifer Goddard (yes, that’s David’s wife) told YP Talk. “We will continue to provide the Yellow Pages & Directory Report with continuous online coverage of the industry, including metrics, analysis and short/long-term perspective. YP&DR subscribers will continue to have access to the exclusive YP&DR Directory Databank, the monthly scorecard offering the most comprehensive look available anywhere at the RBOC’s largest releases.”

A temporary website to field questions about the acquisition is available here.

Print Yellow Pages Aren’t Junk Mail

Back in 2007 (http://www.yptalk.com/archive.cfm?ID=303&CatID=14) I wrote about how the perception that print yellow pages are the root cause of congested landfills and increased government trash waste doesn’t match the reality of what the typical household receives, and then needs to discard (99% of which is not recycled) in the way of junk mail.  To prove my point I compare one year of directories received to just three months of junk mail that arrived.  Over the course of a year, the pile of junk mail will far exceed the pile of print yellow pages.

I am happy to report that some recent tests have yielded similar findings.  Most recently, I received a note from Jeremy Snyder, the General Sales Manager at the Tarheel Pages.  I have cut down some of his analysis to get to the results of the similar test he did:

January 1, 2011 I started collecting every piece of unsolicited junk snail mail that came into my mailbox at my aforementioned house.  I kept a box in the corner of the kitchen and instructed my wife to throw any piece of advertising material into the box.  Any piece of mail that was not a bill, something she had a subscription for, or personal mail was to be thrown in that “junk mail” box.  We have it in our emails to weed out junk in our cyber life, I decided to make one for our physical life.  This is a true to life comparison, and anyone who wants to come and check the actual data is more than welcome, as it still sits in a big box (my wife WOULD NOT let me keep it lying on the floor!) I can’t say I was surprised by the outcome (which I concluded on December 31, 2011), but I was astounded when you compare it to a Phone Book.  I did a side by side comparison to the Phone Books delivered to the RTP Area of North Carolina including Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill’s Phone book.  It’s amazing, and like Judge Korman mentioned, a form of discrimination, to realize that this unsolicited junk mail comes every single day into our mail boxes or post office boxes.  Whether it’s one or two or three pieces a day, you can see just how it adds up over 365 days!! Yet a phone directory that is delivered ONCE every year garners all the negative news about usage (or lack thereof) and wastefulness.

Philadelphia Flyers goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov recently stated,  “The solar system is sooo humongous big, right?! But if you see our solar system and our galaxy on the side, it was so small.”  It’s all about perspective!  I try to get my sales reps to encourage customers to look at the big picture in everything we do.  What we need to ask ourselves, or better yet, what all the naysayers need to ask themselves is, “Do we really think that taking away phone books and destroying thousands of jobs in its wake is, right now, something that is best for what’s happening in our Country (or World)???”

But I’ve come to find out that Jeremy’s fine effort hasn’t been the only test.  Thanks to Bob Tacey, Jr. the Founder/President of Modern Creative Seminars (Tacy Speaks) who also reminded me about a similar finding from Ron Mintle at Yellow Magic.  Ron ran a similar test just a couple of years ago and posted the actual weights of the two different media it on their  company blog (http://www.yellowmagicblog.blogspot.com/).  Here it is:

What I was interested in finding out was what would weigh more, the four Yellow Pages Directories I’ve got in my home, or all the junkmail I collect over the period of 12 months?

I didn’t have to wait very long to find out. Just four months after I’d started with my little experiment, I’ve got some interesting numbers for you. Now of course these may not be valid for everyone, but I couldn’t find anyone else that was crazy enough to have kept their junk mail for four months, which already tells you something…

So, here are the numbers. The junk mail weighed in at 12 pounds & all four of my Yellow Pages Directories together amounted to 9.4 pounds!
It means I collected 3 pounds of junk mail per month. If you do the math & extrapolate, that amounts to 36 pounds of junk mail per year! I’m pretty confident that after a year, those Yellow Pages Directories would still be 9.4 pounds & unlike the junk mail, each of those Yellow Pages are still useful.

Where’s my Yellow Pages? Next to my phone 🙂

So there you have it – three different tests in three different parts of the country and the results are identical.

Note to municipal governmentsPrint yellow pages directories are not your biggest problem in your waste streams.  You can save a heck of a lot more if you would just focus on the main culprits driving up your costs – cardboard, newspapers, and JUNK MAIL.

Let me close with some final words from Jeremy Snyder‘s note, words the industry should embrace:

As many of you in and out of the industry know, we are being inundated with negative perceptions.  These perceptions (and they ARE perceptions) of our extinction have increasingly grown over the last few years.  It makes our jobs harder and harder to convince the small business owner (and mainstream media) that for over 150 years Yellow Pages helped literally millions of small businesses around the world reach the consumer at a point when they are ready to BUY!  In 2008 the Wall Street Journal published an article about the “Extinction of Yellow Pages”. It was full of misstatements of facts, but yet no one ever responded when the Yellow Page Associations tried to contact and defend ourselves.  Now, 3 years later, the blogosphere and online marketing companies (who have a vested interest in YP death) create this “virus” (Irony?).  A virus of the mind which infects the business owners, the general consumer, and even local governments.  Starting in the urban areas that are more technologically savvy and slowly but surely making its way to Small Business America and the everyday consumers.

Folks, isn’t it time to start fighting back on all these misconceptions, lies, and complete mistruths??

Editors Corner — Yellow Page Industry Strategic Predictions for 2012

New Year’s is always a traditional time to sit back and reflect on what was and what will be.  It’s also the time of year where pundits feel compelled to offer their predictions for the coming year.  I’ve always thought this process to be a bit silly as they have no real impact on actual business strategies, and usually are just meant for a couple of minutes of shock value. 

So let’s tweak the process a little to offer some more strategic predictions on several key macro areas that I think should be the focus for successful companies in 2012 in the Yellow Page industry – suppliers, publishers, and CMRs alike.  I believe it comes down to these five basic things.

1.  Be sure to know where you are starting from

To know where you are going, you need to start with exactly where are we.  Looking back, it seemed to me that 2011 was both one of the most difficult and most rewarding years I’ve witnessed for this industry in some time.  Why so difficult?   Businesses of all sizes spent 2012 hunkered down, frustrated and skeptical about where the economy was going.  If something had to be cut, rightfully or wrongly, it was usually the advertising budget.  At the other end of the spectrum, consumers watched every penny to stay afloat, so by definition, they were doing less shopping and being more deliberate, doing more detailed research when they are ready to buy. 

Why so rewarding?  Because I also think some reality finally set in.  Online and mobile technology has wonderful potential for the future.  But it doesn’t come to life without comprehensive, accurate, and timely local data.  Who has the most complete set of that data now?  Not Google.  It’s the publishers.  And with each sales call, they can build a more and more detailed database.  As publishers rediscover that they have a database of incredible, unique core data, many of them will begin to address how they can leverage those assets, independent of getting too hung up on platform. 

A “Yellow Pages” can be in a book format, something running on your mobile phone, or searched online.  But at its most basic element, it’s all about the data, not the delivery mechanism.  I believe that is the starting point that the industry seems to have lost in its pursuit of new revenue streams.  No one, no other media industry, has a source like this.

2.  People – who’s rowing the boat?

Over the holidays I got to visit Asia and made a little detour to visit a major publisher there.  Their number one business issue?  Not the migration from print to digital products.  People.  Finding people who can sell in a solution provider mode, not just take orders.  That sentiment has been echoed across the globe with every company I’ve talked to.  Merge that with a very unhappy workplace where different HR experts have indicated that upwards of 40+% of your team is ready to bolt immediately should the job market improve, and you have the makings of a huge mess.

Right now, there isn’t a lot of positive energy in many companies in this industry.  Case in point is a major publishers like Dex One talking about changing out up to two-thirds of their entire team. To be successful, all companies in the industry, especially publishers, will need to find a way to identify, recruit, and compensate their people, especially their sales teams, in 2012.  It will be an uphill battle.

We’ll have a lot more on this in a coming article.

 

3.   Products – and your strategy is??

One easy prediction to make is that this year the economy will be better than the last few.  All kinds of opportunities are out there. But for which products?? 

Some macro level info to start from:  experts believe that weighed down by flat incomes and slow job creation; there is little chance that U.S. consumers will increase spending significantly this year.  One recent projection was a forecast for 2% growth in consumer spending in the first half of the year, compared with the estimated 3.6% increase in the fourth quarter of 2011.  But when those consumers are ready to spend, they will need that high quality local business information that only this industry can provide.

You’ve all heard that everything digital will be the rage again next year.  Digital advertising will make up more than 20% of all ad spending in 2012 and will account for half of all growth, predicts ZenithOptimedia.  In the Yellow Pages world, the BIA/Kelsey and Simba groups are both suggesting that 2011 will see a slower decrease in print revenues and a faster increase in digital revenues, but with print still being the predominant revenue generator at this point.

What keeps print going??  Things like natural disasters help.  And disasters will again occur in 2012.  For example, this past October, when an unseasonal snowstorm hit the Northeast from New Jersey to Maine, call tracking supplier Telmetrics found that local consumers flocked to their phone books to find a wide variety of important business services.  Call volumes shot up more than 18% across the region as a result of the storm, with Connecticut seeing a nearly 47% increase.  

This is another theme we will cover in future articles.  Yes, you need to be in digital, but it’s not time to give up on print yet.  Remember, it’s just another delivery mechanism.

 

4.  “Show me the money value…” – Value and service as the new differentiator

During my holiday travels I had the occasion to experience both US and international airlines.  It wasn’t even a fair comparison.  On the international flights, the carrier did a lot of little things to impress me and express how much they wanted my future business:  things like provided eyeshades, ear plugs, even a spare toothbrush, while managing to keep my wine glass full the entire time.  Domestically, it was get your rear end in the seat, here’s a bag of peanuts, and give me your wallet so we can gouge you for each piece of luggage checked.  When I have the need to fly next, which type of airline do you think I will use?  And given it was their peak season, why wouldn’t they hand out free cookies or something just to pretend they are happy tp have your business, that they want the whole experience with them to be pleasurable, and to have you back again soon?  Nope.  They didn’t even try.

Given that all advertising expenditures will be tight this year, and that publishers will be providing a wide smorgasbord of products, what will differentiate them from the 30 other guys walking in the door trying to get that small business to spend their advertising money?  Simply said it will be the one that can demonstrate the true value of their product, value seen from the eyes of the recipient not the provider, and then execute on what they promise.  You have to be able to justify why that business should be spending money with your company.  You need to find something they aren’t doing in their current ad program that will help generate more business contacts for them.

Keep in mind that our customers now have a choice.  They can remain our happy and loyal customers, because we’ve exceeded their expectations.  Or they can become our competitors’ customers because our competitors have exceeded expectations — while we haven’t.

 

5.  Planning is nice, but you need to execute your strategy.

Strategy and planning are important, very important.  A totally necessary component for success.  But strategy without execution is useless if nothing ever happens.  Execute!

If you are managing a team, you need to get your troops engaged in the plan.  Engaged people are not interested in leaving.  And they also aren’t afraid of tomorrow — they’re not afraid of change.  Engaged people try harder, do more.  They’re anxious to move, to succeed.  Their energy is infectious.  They’re the positive face of your brand and your company.  They’re your company’s most valuable ambassadors.  They’re the secret weapon for success as they execute your strategy.  Are you doing everything you can to get them engaged?

Also, let’s get personalWhat’s with you next year? How will you be better as a person and at what you do for a living? What will make you better?  Where is your focus? This is another area we will be writing on in 2012.

 

Welcome to 2012.  Put on your seat belts and get ready for a wild ride…