Tag Archives: Yellow Pages

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)

 

 

 

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…

 

Big Al’s Place – You Can’t Judge a Book Just By Its Cover

I happened to pass by “Big Al’s Place” while driving thru Sledge, Mississippi recently.  First, you need to know this is in the middle of nowhere (as in go to Memphis, turn left and two hours later kind of nowhere).  Here in the middle of farm country, amongst the cotton fields, sat this place with all kinds of trucks and farming combines out front.  It just had to be a local repair shop.  One day the massive doors were up and several trucks were visible inside (have to talk to Al about his advertising though because when that big front door is up, this big sign is obviously not visible either).  Using my keen powers of observation, I had this business all figured out.

Big Al's Place

Being an inquiring journalist, I thought I would send “Al” a note to find out what kind of Yellow Pages program he had.  Surprise.  Big Al’s in not a repair shop, it’s the duck hunting lodge home of The Coldwater Duck Club.  But not just any club, it’s a huge 10,000 acre hunting facility as I found out when “Al” sent me a response back.  Needless to say I was blown away. What happened?  Simply put,  I had prejudged what this business was just based on apperances only.

Some things are universal, like the tendency of sales people to prejudge leads, instead of working each one, systematically. They are looking for the low hanging fruit.  We’re being human.  We all know sales isn’t easy, and given these evolving industry times, and a tight economy, it’s not surprising that sometimes we sales people develop some bad habits, especially the “reaching-only-for-low-hanging fruit” syndrome.

Not matter what size business you are selling for, no matter what products or services you are selling, whether leads are walk-ins, phone calls, emails, or the next connection you make at a Christmas party, it’s important to systematically take each potential lead through a process, and never give up.  I’m not suggesting that you don’t qualify candidates before you invest your very limited and precious time in meeting with or speaking with them.  Just don’t confuse prejudging with qualifying.

Proper qualifying is part of the sales process your sales people should be following religiously. Pre-judging said simply, is all about you. Prejudging is bypassing that systematic process you would normally have to declare: “This lead is no good. I’ll go on to the next one.” When you pre-judge a lead you are making assumptions about them before you ask any questions or uncover any facts. When you pre-qualify someone, you are asking questions to uncover their unique and specific needs without making any assumptions so that you can determine very quickly if there is in fact, an authentic lead worth pursuing.

One other real world story — according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are roughly 27.5 million businesses in this country. Many of these small businesses are run by just one person. In fact, only 6 million of those businesses have any employees.  Should we not even have a conversation with those other 21.5 million businesses because they are only a really small business?

Qualify, don’t prejudge…

And now they want your phonebooks…

A lot of discussion is going on over at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government site on a topic near and dear to those of us in the industry – this fanatical
urge to want ban phonebooks
.

Finally, someone presented all of the factors:

:… But is banning the phone book really the best way to save trees? A quick rundown of some key statistics puts two very key holes in the “ban the phone book” theory of  environmental reclamation. First, as it turns out, the Yellow Pages aren’t actually made from five million fresh trees, cut down in their peak to bring the phone book to your door. They’re actually made from mostly recycled material or the byproducts of other paper manufacturing, non-toxic dyes, and inks, and unused directories are “upcycled” into other things. You know that coffee cup that your non-fat soy latte with non-dairy whip comes in every morning, that says it comes from “90% recycled materials?” It’s likely made out of your old phone books.

And although city councils and environmental groups like to pretend  that just because elementary school students and hipsters practically see their laptops as a fifth limb, not everyone uses Google search and Yelp to locate local resources. The Baby Boomer generation, which makes up a huge chunk of American disposable income (and holds nearly 50% of American wealth) uses the Yellow Pages at a staggering rate.  Almost 85% of Boomers picked one up last year to search for a name, address or local resource. And as for that “perpetually connected” generation, Gen Y? Nearly 66% of them used Yellow Pages last year. Nearly 50% of all consumers turn to the Yellow Pages first to get information on businesses in their area. And, of course, that’s leaving out specific statistics on the population that liberals most often forget to consider–lower-income populations. Lower-income populations without continued access to the Internet are the most in need of a resource for directory
assistance…”

In a related item, the Valley Yellow Pages people have also posted a great little YouTube video to further address the many myths that surround the entire green/yellow pages/recycling discussion:  click here.  Every publisher should consider doing a similar clip and making sure their local government officials see it (can we make it required viewing??).

YP Talk has advocated for some time that it is time for this industry to start pushing back, to respond to these egregious accusations/mistruths/flat
out lies, and set the record straight.   Glad to see some progress is finally being made.  But the battle is far from over.  Keep educating your local community on the value that our industry products bring to them.   At the end of day, I doubt you will see any of these environmental zealots looking to help a small business market themselves.  They are too busy looking for the next target to blame.

Simba Information Industry Forecast – 2011

Simba information, led by Senior Analyst David Goddard, has just completed this year’s version of their annual Industry Forecast.  The study provides an in-depth, detailed view of the current state of the industry, a summary of the key findings, and projections on where the industry is headed in the new future.

When we talked with Goddard about the forecast, he noted some of the key findings:

Overall U.S. yellow pages revenue declined 11.8% in 2010.  The industry’s revenue slide continued in 2010 as a recessionary economy endured and the transition from print to digital products continued. This marks another year of continuous; multiyear double digit loses in revenue from the major publishers. The industry growth rate has been declining steadily since 2004 and finished 2010 at $13.57 billion, or an 11.8% decline over that period.  The outlook for 2011 is similarly negative, but at a slower rate.

Environmental Ticking Time Bomb Goes Off.  Simba believes that the current environmental challenges are a “ticking time bomb” threatening the industry with increased government-imposed controls and “do not deliver” lists scattered around the 50 states. While Simba notes that the associations are hard at work addressing and even partially defused efforts over the  last year, by late 2010/early 2011 the industry faced major legislation challenges in two large metro communities—San Francisco and Seattle, and has not won recent efforts to blunt the trend.

National yellow page advertising is in a sharp decline.  Spending in the yellow pages national channel took a sharp decline of 16.2% in 2010, its third consecutive decline in double digits. National yellow pages spending is projected to decline an additional 12% to $1.47 billion in 2011. Contrast that with the overall yellow pages industry projected decline of 5.5% to $12.82 billion in 2011.

RBOC publishers are the major drag on total industry results.  Aggregate yellow pages revenue for the regional Bell related companies declined 18.2% to $7.72 billion in 2010. Meanwhile, revenue at six leading non-telco independent publishers—Yellowbook, LocalEdge (formerly White Directory Publishers), Valley Yellow Pages, Ziplocal (formerly PDC and Your Community PhoneBook), User-Friendly Media and Names & Numbers—declined only 4.6% to $2.38 billion. 

Online Now Accounts for a 17.2% Share of Total Revenue in 2010.  Yellow pages publishers have been aggressively trying to position themselves as the source for advice and support of new digital media products.  As a result they have seen online revenue continue a double digit increase to reach $2.33 billion in 2010, while the print revenue declined to $11.24 billion, all in the face of a tough economy and an ever-strengthening search engine world led by Google. In the study, Simba will tell you how they project online will continue its double-digit growth rate through 2013 when it will top $4.24 billion, or 33.4% of total revenue of $12.71 billion. 

The study also provides much more detailed analysis in these and other areas.  For example, Goddard commented that in analyzing publisher results, he estimates the RBOCs are discounting prices approximately 20% which would result in actual revenue from the over 50,000 circulation books of $7.3 billion.  Billings for RBOC publishers declined 13.8% to an estimated $9.1 billion in 2010 in books with more than 50,000 circulation. Volume was down 17.3% to 518,085 yellow pages. The estimated $9.1 billion in 2010 billings is based upon full DHC pricing.

The outlook for 2011?  Goddard believes that it doesn’t look as if 2011 is going to be much better for the industry.  He is projecting a 5.5% decline to $12.82 billion. Going forward the rate of decline is expected to slow and by 2013 he expects we will see a slight increase of 2.5%.  Major metro markets are the largest source of local advertising drops.  Yellow pages revenue in the top 20 metro markets declined to $1.65 billion in 2010, a 12.2% share of total industry revenues of $13.57 billion, according to Simba estimates.  Revenue for the top 20 markets was $1.86 billion in 2009, a 12.1% share of total yellow pages revenue of $15.38 billion.

Sales & Marketing: Promoting Top Sales Reps to Sales Managers? Caution Ahead!

Perhaps you’ve heard the oldest joke in sales:

Q:  What happens when you promote your top sales rep to a manager?

A:  You lose your top sales rep and gain your worst manager.

But it sounds like such a wonderful story and is so commonplace in many companies – promoting successful reps into sales management roles. What can be more wholesome than rewarding your most successful, consistent, and reliable reps with a promotion to the corner office?  In theory, who better to take on more responsibility in the sales organization than someone who understands how to sell really well.  But caution, it’s just not that easy.

I’ve seen various research efforts that suggests that upwards of 75% of reps promoted to sales manager will not last 2 years in the role and will eventually return to a sales position. Why would there be such a high failure rate of sales managers promoted from reps?

Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • They are vastly different roles. Vastly different.  A sales rep role involves hunting for new opportunities (often with high levels of rejection), developing relationships, active listening, negotiating, and closing. Sales management involves very different activities in disciplines such as personnel development — interviewing, hiring, firing, training, cheerleading; but also tactical – tracking, forecasting, analyzing, planning; and strategic, managing  expectations, time and results, both up and down.
  • Many aspects of managing people are more complex than selling – most top reps have developed a system for dealing with the more finite number of sales situations they will be placed in. Managing a team means an evolving number of mechanisms for holding each individual accountable, and then adds the day to day change each person brings to the puzzle.
  • Managing is not for everyone – there is a fair quantity of psychological data to prove that the behavioral profiles of those who succeed in these two roles are dramatically different.  Yes, drive, competitiveness, perseverance, optimism and flexibility are all key traits for both top reps and sales managers. But management also requires a certain type of patience, flexibility, tolerance and communication skills, many of which can’t be fixed through classroom training.
  • The best sales reps are used to moving at their own pace – they are action oriented and use to driving results by ramping up their own direct efforts. Assuming leadership means overseeing a team where (at best) 50% of the reps are below targeted performances, and you need to be able to gear up or down to each. There is a huge temptation to step in, takeover opportunities, and just close business for reps, rather than helping the reps close and to be better closers.

I don’t mean to suggest you should never promote a top rep to the sales manager spot.  But if you were going to hire a successful sales manager, what skills would that you want in that person?  Has that top rep shown any of those skills? Does he want the job (and understand the possibility that he will be making less money?) Is he the one that welcomes the chance to take a new guy out to show him the ropes, help him work on his presentation, coach him on some of the techniques he has found to be most successful for him? And that’s just the personnel side of the role.

To be a great manager you have to be an expert at all phases of management, not just an exceptional sales person. A great example from the sports world would be St. Louis Cardinals baseball manager Tony La Russa. La Russa was a marginal player at best during his playing career (a paltry .199 batting average over 10 year career).  But he continuously demonstrates an ability to communicate with his players, to understand their strengths and weaknesses, to tactically study the opposition in order to put his team in the best position to be successful, and to strategically work with upper management on what he needs to win championships.  As a result he has become one of the winningest managers in major league history.

Five Reasons Hiring Top Talent May Be More Difficult Than You Realize in 2011

Publisher:  We’ve all been hearing of signs that the economy is starting to turn the corner a little, and that more people are finding jobs. With the start of the New Year, we thought we’d get a sense for what the industry faces in its staffing issues going into 2011.  Who better to turn to then the leading recruiting group for the industry – Hawthorne Executive Search, and it’s President – Robert Hawthorne. Because Hawthorne Search works with such a wide variety of clients both internal to the industry and externally across the greater local search spectrum, Hawthorne gets a unique picture from both the macro level, as well as deep in the trenches during their daily conversations with clients and candidates.  Here is Robert’s view of what 2011 holds for hiring.

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Five Reasons Hiring Top Talent May Be More Difficult Than You Realize in 2011

Your business has survived one of the largest economic downturns of the past seventy five years.  You did all the right things, which included reducing staff size and doubling up employee workloads instead of adding to staff when things started to pick up.

Now that you believe the clouds are parting and there may be some growth on the horizon you are ready to hire a few key individuals on your team.  You open up your internet browser and are bombarded with articles trumpeting the 9.8% unemployment rate.

Armed with this information you believe that you can get a Porsche on a Buick budget.  Candidates will be begging to come to work for you and can interview dozens until that magical candidate finally grabs the golden ring.

Unfortunately the reality is far different from this employer driven ideal.  Yes, unemployment remains mired near 10% but you need to think about who you want to hire and keep these five things in mind when looking to hire:

Reason #1 hiring is going to be challenging in 2011:  The unemployment rate for those with a four year degree or higher is under 6%. If you are looking to hire a high school graduate for a line manufacturing job the odds are pretty high you can pick and choose, but if you are looking for a white collar professional with a four year degree or higher in most industries, the true unemployment rate is quite low.  “Full employment” is considered by most economists around 5% and  the current rate is under 6% for those you are pursuing, you can do the math.

Reason #2:  Moving for a job is nearly impossible.  We live in a fairly transient society where many individuals are willing to leave their city for a good job in another market.  During the boom days of the real estate market, it was fairly easy to list your house, sell it, and start a new job in a month or two.  Today, with many individuals underwater on their mortgages and a limited number of qualified buyers available, many professionals are landlocked by their mortgage.  If you are trying to recruit a product manager from your competitor who is based in Dallas to move to your Denver office,  be prepared to either wait for months for that person to sell their house, or be prepared to pay their rent until they can sell the house back home.

Reason #3: The candidates you are pursuing are reading the same articles detailing an uptick in hiring that you read.  They have weathered the storm at their jobs and now realize it might be a good time to explore the market.  Count on these individuals having multiple suitors and not jumping at an initial offer.  Hiring tends to come in “waves” and 2011 may be a wave year.

Reason #4: Individualism now thriving.  Countless articles have been written about professionals who have used their downsizing as an opportunity to start their own business.  I personally know of a dozen or more candidates of ours who have hung out their own shingle in order to make a living.  Yes, some of these folks will jump at the chance to re-enter corporate America, but many will want to maintain their newfound freedom and flexibility.  Getting these folks to jump back into structured hours at a physical office with multiple staff meetings and bosses may not be as easy as you would imagine.

Reason #5: Same as before the employment crash, you are lacking one or more of the 3 C’s.  You aren’t cool, you don’t offer enough compensation, or you can’t help the career climb.  Today’s employee is looking for a growing company in a “hot” market that can help them keep their skills on the leading edge.  In addition they want a salary increase if they are going to leave the perceived stability of their current employer.  Finally, most individuals will want to know where this position can take them in your organization.  If you aren’t paying market rate, have advancement opportunities, or on the leading wave of your industry, you are going to have a difficult time landing an “A” player.

When you and your staff set out to hire this quarter realize that while you may have a great opportunity for someone, you will need to recruit the talent you want, not just select.

Coming Soon: Five Ways You Can Stand Out When Trying To Hire

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Robert Hawthorne has been leading a national recruiting practice for the past fifteen years, working primarily with interactive and online media companies, as well as with consumer driven internet organizations.  He can be reached at Robert@hawthornesearch.com or (910) 798-1800 x101

 

Start-up activity to accelerate? Wishful thinking or reality?

Finally back from a long holiday break — great to see family again and spend some time in warmer weather — so why don’t I have an office in Florida??

This news item from our friends at Young & Associates :  they spotted an article from The Boston Globe  that suggests new business start-up activity will accelerate in 2011.

Given how bad New England area got hammered with this recession, is this just wishful thinking or reality?  The article notes that:  “…Venture capital is plentiful, and looking for investment opportunities as big paydays seem increasingly possible..”

Now wouldn’t that be nice.  We are all rooting for improvements in this economy.  We’ve been down in the dumps for too long now.  We’re ready to get back to work, back to a more prosperous business environment, and may even have some people in Congress now that will actually listen to what small business people need and want….

View From The Corner Office: An interview with Dave Goddard, Simba Information

Perhaps no one issue is more relevant, current, or strategically important for the Yellow Pages industry right now than  some of the recent environmental challenges it has faced.  Up until recently the industry had managed to fight back most efforts. But a new ordinance passed by the Seattle City Council which would levee new registration fees for publishers, require mandatory opt-out compliance, and impose significant new waster recovery fees per book distributed has now brought the issue to the fore front.

Simba Information, led by Senior Analyst of the Yellow Pages Group, David Goddard, has released a comprehensive new report covering the full spectrum of the topic entitled Going Green:  Environmental Challenges in the Yellow Pages industry 2010. Goddard is a recognized authority on the industry having covered it since 1997.  He oversees the content gathering and presentation of Simba’s Yellow Pages & Directory Report and numerous related research reports. This work is an exceptional piece covering not only the general industry issues, but also provides readers with more detailed views inside most of the major publisher efforts.

We recently sat down with Goddard to further discuss his views on this hot topic. Enjoy.

YPT: How was this study assembled??

GODDARD:   Generally, Simba gathers the information for a report for about a year, which gives some solid trend lines. We then analyze the information and publish it. We have tracked the environmental impact on the industry for the past few years but this year Seattle brought the impact on the industry right to the forefront. While we discovered the industry has become more green over the past few years—primarily since the beginning of the PSI hearings in 2007 — it may be too little and too late. A number of states  and municipalities are already looking closely at the cost of yellow pages recycling just as Seattle did and may decide to recoup the money.   Seattle is going to charge the publishers as much as $600,000 at year to do business in their community. That will probably look very inviting to legislators.

YPT:  Is your overall sense that the industry understands how serious an issue this really is?

GODDARD:   Absolutely, I remember the first few environmental meetings that came up in 2007 & 2008. The publishers were surprised by the environmental issue as it pertained to their industry.  But, now they have educated themselves and a great deal of the credit goes to the YPA and ADP associations.  The publishers now work hard to making recycling of yellow pages directories more convenient and have gotten behind the green movement. However, the challenge is quite large because publishers are dealing with individual states and municipalities.

YPT:  In YP Talk articles we recently suggested that this lawsuit may not be a totally bad thing for this industry.  It could almost be viewed as an inexpensive public relations effort from the industry.  Do you agree??

GODDARD:   It is likely there will be a more united industry. Seattle is already proving itself to be a good example: two of the RBOCs and the YPA have filed the suit against the city ordinance and Yellowbook, which also distributed in the city, has thrown support behind them.   The money that will be owed to Seattle if this ordinance is upheld is really going to pinch. And, it won’t take long for environmental groups in cities like Chicago, which are already in contact with Seattle, to look to do the same.   Publishers may well have to pay to distribute in some of the cities and communities. Hopefully, both sides in Seattle will come up with a compromise that will work for publishers and the city. What that compromise would be, I’m not sure but I suspect they will be looking for one.

YPT:  Publishers have suggested that opt-out rates are only about 1% of the total delivery , and that it is a small fragment doing all the complaining/blogging about the issue while rest of the community isn’t really engaged in the discussion.

GODDARD:   Those statistics sound about right from what I’m hearing but the issue has now moved into the political arena.  If the Seattle model expands, communities across the U.S. are going to ask taxpayers if they want to continue to pay for recycling phone books or send a bill to yellow pages publishers.  I think the taxpayers’ answer is pretty obvious. Communities are going to go for the money. So, even if it’s only 1% of the households that don’t want the book delivered, the political arena is likely to give communities the legal right to send Joe Walsh a bill.  The publishers have to pay the bill, go to court in an attempt to have the ordinance overturned or come up with a compromise.

YPT:  Wouldn’t the process agreed to in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area be the better route for all parties (agreement to set up a single source opt-out program with fees involved.   So, I think me the issues is that if there were no fees involved then say you have to offer the opt-out I don’t think that would bother anyone.

GODDARD:  Minneapolis/St. Paul was a good compromise but communities are always looking for additional revenue.  While cooperation with business is a goal, the Seattle model is an opportunity to offset some expenses. It would be nice for the industry if the Seattle model doesn’t spread but it’s pretty likely that it will.

YPT:  Specific to the Seattle ordinance, it seems that the ordinance champion, Councilman O’Brien, really has his eyes on a bigger loft (State House).

GODDARD:  Yes, you’re right.  Who’s going to be against cleaning up a community?  O’Brien told Simba in a recent interview: “If you produce it, you should pay to get rid of it.”  And, who can successfully argue with that?

YPT:  In which key areas do you think we’re going to similar legislation come up with next?

GODDARD: My understanding is that environmental groups in Chicago are looking to Seattle but don’t want the legal bill, so they are waiting to see what happens.  How long will a court case like this last – 18 months to 3 years?  It’s certainly going to take a while, so I expect we’ll see a lot of communities watching and waiting. If the Seattle ordinance is upheld, communities are likely to follow the model. Two RBOCs and the YPA, which represents a major portion of the business, have recognized the danger of a strong fee-based environmental model and drawn the line in Seattle.

YPT:  But if they lose?

GODDARD:  Those flood gates are going to open if they lose.  It will be costly to the publishers in Seattle and most likely will become expensive in other communities as well. Since the stakes are so large, a settlement really seems likely.

YPT:  You indicated that one of the things that surprised you in your work on this publication was how green the publishers have become.  Tell us more about that.

GODDARD:   Basically, unlike previous years, we’re seeing a lot of progress. In past years we would search the publishers’ web sites and find that opt-out was available but the procedure was difficult. A person who wanted to opt out often had to hunt through the site, follow many steps and sometimes end up placing a phone call to the publisher rather than an online procedure.   But this year it has gotten pretty easy.  And, the YPA and the ADP, which has their own opt-out site, are about to take it national.  So the industry really is going ‘green’ and working toward recycling—that is the big difference from past years.  Back in 2006 before the PSI (Product Stewardship Institute, an environmental advocacy group) meetings, you often couldn’t find yellow pages recycling information anywhere on a publisher’s site. By 2010 a resident can opt out of a book or find the closest recycling center without much difficulty all across the country.

YPT:  Publishers have indicated that the actual opt-out rates are running under 1%, and have slowed to a trickle.  How do you view this result??

GODDARD:   What opt-out does is create a choice and Seattle is a good example because three of the largest yellow pages publishers—Dex, Super Media and Yellow Book—distribute directories in the market. What is likely to happen is two of those publishers will be “opted-out” and a household will receive one book. Environmentalist groups seem to really get fired up when multiple publishers deliver multiple books multiple times a year. Many, many books then arrive at the landfill or recycling center, which is a great photo opportunity. That’s what draws attention and that’s where they see unnecessary costs to the taxpayer.  An average yellow pages user may not even recognize the differences between books delivered to their home, never mind the difference between incumbent and independent.   Given an opt-out choice, I doubt there will be many residents that love the yellow pages so much that they want to receive all three. I just don’t see that happening and with a door-to-door campaign like the one planned by Seattle environmentalists, the opt-out option will definitely come to the surface.

YPT:  If you were leading a print Yellow Pages publishing operation, what steps would you be taking now?

GODDARD:   Basically they have to get into Seattle and file a suit that points out the defects in the ordinance, including the question of why yellow pages publishers need a permit to operate in the city but newspaper publishers don’t.  There are a number of questions raised by the Seattle ordinance that appear to fly in the face of the First Amendment.  While the publishers have to make an expensive stand in Seattle, it can also be an opportunity.  It may well be in the best interest of the industry to find a compromise that becomes a model across the country rather than kill the Seattle ordinance in court and face continuous battles in other communities.

The yellow industry is going greener while the environmental groups are getting stronger, more united and savvy with working with politicians. This entire issue really came to the forefront on the East Coast when Verizon Information Services [now SuperMedia] split its big book in Boston into three regional editions. The issue has now spread across the country to the West Coast and the environmentalists and publishers are in this together. As Sieg Fischer, president of Valley Yellow Pages, said at the PSI dialogue at the Seattle EPA office a couple of years ago, “We all live on this planet; maybe we can work this out together.”  The Seattle ordinance and lawsuit could supply that cooperation.

And lastly, the PSI group has some real credibility and they have influence all over the country.  The institute, which has been involved with multiple industries ranging from batteries to pesticides, seems to know how to work with environmentalists and businesses.  The wisest course of action may be to work more closely with PSI to find a compromise. They may wear green shoes, but the truth of the matter is that they are pretty savvy.

YPT:  How much is the report and how can someone order a copy?

GODDARD:   The report costs $2,995 for an online download and this is the link: http://www.simbainformation.com/pub/2648050.html