Monthly Archives: August 2012

Dex One and SuperMedia to Merge

Well, the long rumored merger of Dex One and SuperMedia is now real as plans to merge were formally released this morning.  The combined entity will be called “Dex Media” and will have approximately $3.1 billion in revenue (based on 2011 results).

Peter McDonald, the current CEO of SuperMedia will lead the merged operation.  Dex One CEO Alfred Mockett will step down at the completion of the merger, which is expected in the fourth quarter.

For the industry, this is the type of merger which had been expected for some time.  It really was only a matter of which companies, and who would finance the move.  As a result the U.S. Yellow Pages market will have three big players, YP Holdings (the old AT&T), the new combined Dex Media, and Yellowbook/now Hibu. Beyond these leaders, industry analysts such as BIA/Kelsey believe that further merger activity will coming from companies such as No. 4 sized Berry, as publishers look for the most efficient, sustainable platform in the rush to move from an all traditional print to a blended print/digital business.  It is a little like speed dating – better find your partner before the music stops.  Logic tells you that the pace of mergers should pick up now as others rush to find those partners.  The band is getting a little weary.

For the employees of the two merged companies, you would have to expect more layoffs in operations and staff positions after the merger is completed.

For the Local Search Association, this provides more challenges as they have lost a major dues paying member.

This merger should add some more excitement to the upcoming BIA/Kelsey – SMB Digital Marketing 2012 Conference which will be held 9/17-9/19 in Chicago (link to conference information).  Dex’s Mockett was scheduled to be one of the conferences keynote speakers.  Won’t that be an interesting presentation…..

On a lighter note, does this mean the new marketing campaign will have the Dex Knows nerd wearing a cape????

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Four Key Disciplines of Sales Management

A recent blog by S. Anthony Iannarino got me thinking.  Building on his three core disciplines, the concepts really ring true for sales management in this evolving Yellow Pages industry.

As Iannarino noted, being a sales manager isn’t easy.  There are dozens of tasks and activities that dominate a sales manager’s day.  You have a sales team which needs your undivided attention each day, senior management that wants to communicate with you, and then a family that would like you to come home at night at a more reasonable hour.  Iannarino focused on three disciplines a sales manager absolutely must keep to succeed.  Note these are not goals, they are daily disciplines that sales managers need as their priorities in the face of the many other distractions that come out each day.

Discipline 1: Ensuring a Healthy Pipeline for your Reps

The difference between top performing reps and those that aren’t can often come down to one critical factor – activity, or more appropriately — the level of activity.  Of course activity for activity’s sake doesn’t do anything to produce sales results. The activity I’m talking about has to produce outcomes, and the major outcomes that need measured are opportunities created and opportunities advanced – appointments made, appointments kept, as well as closes.

For sales managers, keeping an active eye on a reps pipeline isn’t micromanaging.  Inspecting and reviewing the status of the pipeline on a consistent basis isn’t a lack of trust in the rep.  The simple reality is that without enough opportunities, the rep, the manager, and the company cannot make their numbers. The math doesn’t work.

This discipline isn’t naïve enough to suggest the SMB owners don’t disappear for vacations, or get pulled off on emergency situations, or are ducking you because they are behind on their bills.  These are a given and will happen.  For managers the more operative value of this discipline is ensuring the pipeline has enough viable, closable opportunities to allow all parties to achieve their desired results.

So managers, you have to continually inspect the pipeline to ensure that your sales team is producing and managing the opportunities they need to succeed.

Discipline 2: Seizing All Coaching Opportunities

Wouldn’t it be nice if sales opportunities moved smoothly and evenly all through your campaigns?  But how often does that happen.  We are fast approaching Labor Day week.  We all know that’s going to be a difficult time to catch up with many SMB’s as they head off for their last summer vacations or to be with kids heading back to school or college.

Coaching these selling opportunities is the second primary discipline of a sales manager. It is also another discipline that must be done continuously.

Riding with reps, ongoing role playing and other coaching techniques are needed to keep reps prepared for a constantly changing marketplace.  But the other key part of coaching a team is to help them build/grow their capacity to move opportunities through their sales funnel on their own, and to remove any miscellaneous obstacles that stall or kill opportunities.

Coaching opportunities is where you are expected to earn your pay.

Discipline 3: Developing Your Sales Team

Have you noticed that the better your sales team is, the easier your job is?  The inverse of this is also true, too: the worse your sales team, the more difficult your job is. It’s rare that any team is made up of all “A” players.  No matter what level they are at, the only real asset you have producing sales results is your salespeople.  The link is an obvious one — coaching is important to sales in that the more you develop your sales team, the better your sales team becomes, the better your sales results will be.

Time spent coaching, teaching, training, and developing your salespeople can produce outsized results. But it also does require a time investment on the manager’s part.

One of the most critical disciplines of the sales manager is building salespeople so they can overcome the challenges and obstacles they face themselves.

Discipline 4: Be the Filter for the Sales Team

These are very unsettling times in the industry, in many companies, in our overall economy.  Things are changing constantly – new focus on products, changes in ownership, even some name changes (can you say “Hibu”?).  The fourth item I have added to the list of primary disciplines is the need for sales management to filter all of this internal and external noise so sales can concentrate on the task at hand that day – making sales.

As I suggested to one unsettled rep – look at it this way – you run your own small company.  You have one client – your existing employer.  Now you can change clients at anytime, but how’s this one treating you?  And each client, no matter what industry has their own little quirks and requirements.  Don’t get caught up in what the client is doing.  Focus on your business.

 

These are my suggested four key disciplines.  Do you have others that should be added??

 

The slim margin of success

In sports, just as in business, the margin between success and failure can often be a very thin line.

Case in point:  in this most recent Olympics the difference between first and last in the men’s 100 meters sprint came down to just .035 seconds.  Essentially, little more than the blink of an eye.  One more stride. A quicker start out of the blocks.  anything could have substantially changed the outcome of that race.

After nearly 4 years of work for some of these athletes, the hours and hours of practice, weightlifting, dieting, and conditioning, all came down a preciously short total time spent in the actual preliminary events /qualifying races, and the final medal race/event.  For example, the actual time spent by contestants in the men’s shot put, actually in competition, was less than 15 seconds.  For the woman’s all around gymnastics’ event, less than 8 minutes (Go Gabby!).  Certainly some events do have a longer actual participation time such as the men’s cycling road race which took just under seven hours.  But overall, most of the sports in which gold medals have been handed out this week are usually culminated in less than 10 minutes.  And this after years of preparation and work.

Many of these athletes also participate at a great personal cost to themselves and their families.  The afore-mentioned Gabby Douglas’s mother, Natalie Hawkins, has apparently filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy recently, to reorganize the family’s finances and pay down debt accrued during her many years of training.  Swimming star Brian Locke’s parents are also facing foreclosure issues on their home.

The takeaway from these athletes to the Yellow Pages industry, is that in sales, it appears that the margin between an outstanding, highly paid, top performing sales reps and those  who are just average at best seems to come down to several simple things which may only take an investment of minutes each day:  preparation , and planning their sales day.  And then, they need to go through doors.  Many doors, to find those sales and be successful.

The thing each of us needs to consider is what the impact would be if each of us made one more call, opened one more door, shared the Yellow Pages value story with one more small business owner each and every day.  Imagine how many additional sales that would yield over the course of a month, a year, or if you’re truly Olympic, over four years.  The results would be staggering.

Today make just one more call.  One.