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Is a footsoldier salesforce a liability or an asset to a YP?

I say it's a liability. Dump the salesforce. Build a better callcent



1:56 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Printing and distribution costs, plus salesforce costs, were the major obstacle to entry into the local advertising market. Clearly a "disruptive technology" the WWW has removed those barriers to entry. Not just the WWW itself but also the uptake of WWW access and use.

So, at the local search and marketing level who holds the advantage?

I think I hear Chicago saying something like "It IS the salesforce - the people with the connections to the local SMEs - that ARE making the difference, that give companies like YB an advantage".

A footsoldier salesforce costs real money. What happens once the local business owner - or his kid - realizes he can get by without the services of the local ad rep? How long will this learning curve last, until the local SME realizes the ad rep is unnecessary, a luxury?

I'd like to spend more time developing the point but the premise is simple enough: An salesforce of footsoldiers is expensive to maintain. IMHO, having a salesforce is, at best, a turniquet applied to a severed artery. Yes, the local yellowpages has an advantage in selling online local ads to local businesses, but in the era when people are increasingly getting the information they need online an educational or selling footsoldier is a) an anachronism; b) who's income is based upon selling ad space; c) which ad space can be pitched and sold online, with a little training; d) which footsoldier - if they're acutally helping the SME - will spend time training the SME how they can manage their campaign online ("You really don't need me"); e) Which means that, by doing the right thing, either the ad rep is cutting his/her own throat OR the ad rep has (believes he has) a contract that guarantees residual income on ad renewals by the same SME; f) which means that IF an ad rep has a residual income agreement THAT COST becomes one of the inefficiencies that will eventually drag down the local YP's competitive advantage AS people become increasingly aware of options and able to manage local search marketing efforts (What does it take to email an inquiry to a local site?).

I say the perceived advantage of having a footsoldier salesforce will prove to be the next big disadvantage to the YP gang. To effectively move to an online advertising model they need a call center staff, not a commissioned (or salaried) footsoldier salesforce.

Am I wrong?


2:05 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

You are completely wrong. And the reason you wrong is because in all probability , your experience is primarily technical.

I wouldn't want to expand too much, but I'll suggest you go an find out the difference between "active" an "passive" selling.

The guys an gals who Knock on doors, smiling bravely an speaking to absolute strangers, still have a place in our brave new world :) :)


6:44 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Your thinking shows a lack of understanding of how small businesses work especially service oriented businesses. Most small business owners are way too busy providing services to their customers and have neither the time nor the inclination to go-line to promote their businesses. They might know who Google is but many of them have no idea what PPC is. The Yellowpages companies have and will always be the means and medium for small businesses to promoting themselves. The yellowpages provide a full service model while companies like Google and Yahoo provides a self service model. Both models can satify the needs of the small businesses and will co-exist for a long time to come.


7:51 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

loco, I am a small business owner of a service business. Maybe I'm just slighty ahead of the crowd, but not too far ahead, as I talk to other small business owners. They have websites too. Their kids build them. Some local high school kid builds them. When I talk to them they listen. They are eager to learn. They can see the handwriting on the wall. There's room for growth in providing such services to locals. I'm certain we'll see it happening soon enough. Talk to a few webmasters involved with the local Chamber of Commerce. The uptake may have been slow but give them time. Not much. I say the uptake will ramp up exponentially, once word leaks out how many leads John Doe got from his online campaign, SEO, PPC, etc.

I say your footsoldiers who are in the business of selling online ads for any 1 company are scheduled for extinction in about 5 years. Ya, there will be clueless souls who will be victim to the needless overhead of the footsoldiers, but the SME's kids will wake them up to the issues.

[edited by: Webwork at 7:58 pm (utc) on Aug. 3, 2006]


8:46 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The point I was making is lost on you,

The essense of a sales person lies not necessarily in how they do their work, nor in their tools,,

Its a mental thing , do you dig :) :)


9:07 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I participate in a private [widget] industry forum where the question of whether to renew YP ads comes up occasionally. Many widget businesses report that the proportion of leads and business they can attribute to their YP listing is shrinking every year.

The key issue here isn't foot-soldiers vs call-centers; it's whether the ads remain productive enough to be worth what they cost.

smells so good

9:36 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I needed several products from a local manufacturer. I have their catalog, their e-mail, and their phone number. But when it came to making a choice, the best option was to drag the sales rep out of the office, over to my place, so he could see what I am doing. We spent a couple of hours going over specs, his catalog, and general discussion about my needs and my product.

A week later I had samples at my door. Another week passed and he had a sale, and a satisfied customer. It's probably rare, but in this case I needed his expertise.

As an add-on, I wanted to consider the possibility of customizing his product (think branding). He offered a couple of names. I looked them up, and was just as clueless after looking over their site info as I was before I looked. Calls to a couple of them left me feeling as empty. I don't understand the terminology, so how can I make an intelligent decision? When they decide to send over a rep, I might consider spending some money.

OTOH, I would NEVER consider a salesforce for my product. It isn't needed. People already know about my product, so it's a simple matter to look around and pick from any number of vendors/web sites.


9:38 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

YP = Yellow Pages


10:07 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

The key issue here isn't foot-soldiers vs call-centers; it's whether the ads remain productive enough to be worth what they cost.

The inverse might also be true: Can I develop leads at 1/100th of the cost by beating my competition in the internet marketing sphere by advancing my knowledge of internet marketing?

You know that those lawyers and doctors - the one's who the YP used to profit so nicely from - they're a bit "technical". An incresing number have their minds wrapped around the role of non-traditional local marketing, i.e., online.

The local rags - the microperiodicals - appear to be in constant pain as they a) shrink in size; and, b) perpetually advertise in prominent places for sales staff. Where are those advertisers going? I think I noticed that some of them now have websites.

Those insurance agents who might have taken out full page YP ads? Can anyone spell GEICO.com? Big billboards. Big TV. Lot's of Geico DOT COM.

The latest gimmick, to fill the YP book is to list restaurant menus. Doh! "Son, can you whip me up a .pdf file and provide a link to it on our website? Do you think we can buy links from about a dozen popular local websites too?" Waaaaay to complex for all those non-technical types to figure out.

The signs of the impending morbidity of the footsoldier salesforce are all over the place.

Active selling? Ya, to the inactive brain. The dinosaur is your best market. The problem with the inactive brain dinosaur is that the active brain competitive species soon eats their business.

Footsoldier sales are all about the overhead and the big business selling advertising and marketing to local SMEs has just a bit too much overhead. Too many mouths attempting to feed out of the bucket. The YP may be around for awhile longer than 5 years, but during that time they will continue to shrink and shrink.

The notion of footsoldier salesmen selling online ads to SMEs is a peculiar oxymoron in search of a name. The value proposition of the service being sold is consistent with the inevitable decline of the service provider himself.

"Hi. I'm Bob. I'm here to tell you that the future of advertising and marketing, and controlling your advertising and marketing, is online and in the air, it's wireless and the WWW. People will sit at their computers and find all the information they need. Why even our company has a website that tells you all about our ad program and we give you the tools for managing your online ad campaign right there . . online . . at the website . . "


[edited by: Webwork at 10:34 pm (utc) on Aug. 3, 2006]


10:35 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

So , does that fine pillar of the internet Market, Google, Have reps or not? Does Ebay have reps, or,,,, Microsoft

I know, we are all convinced dat we know everything, an everything will work out just the way we predict, this is even easier when circumstanses lead us to believe that we know what we're talking about :) :)


i say, keep an open mind,,,


12:53 am on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

The Yellowpages industry generates about $15B in revenue and is definitely not a growth industry. However, it will not go down by 20% each year as well. Many people have predicted the death of the industry year after year. The industry has probably something close to 20,000 feets on the street. These people not only provide full services to all the small businesses but they collect information about the small businesess that consumers can use. Try finding somebody to remove a tree that just fell in your backyard on Google or Yahoo. I think Internet Yellow Pages will become more of a vertical portal like for auto or jobs. Most people don't go to Google for these things but go directly to monster or autotrader. There reason being they have better and more organized content. Same thing for on-line yellowpages, people would not go there to find a book but they will definitely go there if their Air Conditioning is not working when it's 100 outside.


1:12 am on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Webwork, you are definitely in the leading edge but I bet your service business is not a traditional yellowpages business like plumber or roofer. I bet most plumbers have no clue as to what is a "webmaster". Something that has to do with getting rid of spiders maybe. Yeah, maybe some of these businesses have teenage kids that are web savvy and will get their dad's business on line. Again the teenage kids might be too busy hanging out in myspace. As for trying to predict what will happen in 5 years, that's pretty tough. Did anyone predicted that Google will be a household name 5 years ago or gas will be $3 a gallon. Maybe Google would not be around in 5 years, remember Netscape.


9:03 pm on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Nifty discussion. Like webwork I'm also a small business service provider. We also beat the curve (to date) for local optimization and now outrank any IYP for any relevant search phrase.

We were a traditional YP advertiser for years.

I'm surprised local ad agencies haven't attacked this universe. Their aggregate sales forces would outnumber the sales forces of the different YP's.

Gotta figure out ways to produce ranking and ppc results with quick efforts/sort of mcdonalds versions of fancy food.

And I also am surprised that local newspapers haven't tried to become aggressive yps in their own areas.

Sales forces still work in my mind. So many small business owners have no clue about this stuff and are ripe to be sold. At least the YP sales forces have a level of brand name credibility even if what they are selling can be done better in different ways.



1:24 am on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Right now, WebWork, it is selling that matters most when we look at the issue of SME adoption of internet search marketing.

Foot-soldiers, which have been the life-line of a high-margin print search business, are ALL selling Internet (and let's us not forget the newspapers). Their sales efforts, through their traditional sales channels, dwarf all other forms of internet search sales in the marketplace, while blanketing the US with coverage.

Today, IYP ad usage amongst SMEs is substantially higher than SE search ads. This is due to the fluid nature of an YP to IYP upsell. Today, all YPs compliment their offerings with search ads on Google, etc. They are beginning to act like more like traditional agencies as it relates specifically to ad inventory. They are piecing inventory together in meaningful ways and moving it through their channels.

One can't argue the critical importance of this sales channel over the next 2-3 years. The key question is ad product integrity.

These companies are smart and they understand what is at stake and they will not sit by and just watch the obvious take shape.Currently every major YP is sinking an amazing amount of capital and resources into product development. Product development is coming in the form of outsourcing and more recently acquisition.

There are also forces that naturally aid their progress- like being able to negotiate inventory, bounties, preferred placement, feeds, and support directly with the engines.

The YPs also have inventory ~~ GOLD in high volume local search sales. When you combine inventory, with SE deals, with products, a century of tradition, and yea, a salesforce, one can easily predict who will be responsible for first bringing the masses of SMEs online.

But maybe most important and fundemental is the fact that this is a scale marketplace. It is low margin - high volume. Agencies and even webmasters curse most of the requirements of servicing SMEs who average totally monthly budget for ALL advertising is a little over $300 per month. And need us not forget half of the SMEs that simply do not market themselves at all ~ less go to Google and sign up for a good ole' adwords accounts.

To service high volume SME's one requires PRODUCTS, SALES and AUTOMATION. The YPs are looking to adapt everything that they have built to date - from ads, to salespeople, to systems to confirm to Internet search, to conform to the actualities of the obvious.

You see, it doesn't matter if the salesforces (namely unionized)are currently too expensive when in the end, the shareholders demand value. You just need to change.

YPs, more than anything else, are sales organizations. Currently it is the foot soldiers that are waging the battle. But if one looks beyond this battle they will find an opponent that is well fortified, both structurally and strategically to fight a war.

[edited by: Chicago at 1:29 am (utc) on Aug. 5, 2006]


4:25 am on Aug 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Foot soldiers = most important.
I am looking for a rep. to call on small businesses with a very short and to the point pitch, with laptop in hand to every small business in town who currently has no web representation.
Most of my clients haven't a clue how to get on Y Local, even the basic, free listing. As one poster noted these guys and gals are to busy prepping the cafe or stocking the shelves to find time to read forums or FAQs from the SE's.
Most of my clients can't believe what I can offer and how reasonable it is. More often I'm talking to persons who believe print YP's and local newspaper is their only option. I'm encountering quite a few wounded birds, shellshocked from costs involved with print.
I like that I can offer a reasonable and timely alternative!


6:42 pm on Aug 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I heard a good analogy about the need for sales people. The Internet has made it easy for people to sell and buy stock on their own or even become a day trader but many people still buy mutual funds. Bottom line is that if you are willing to doing it yourself whether be investing, painting your house or managing your advertising, you can aways save some money. However, for many people, DIY is not something they preferred and much rather let the "professionals" do it.


10:33 pm on Aug 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

smiling ear to ear loco.


11:19 pm on Aug 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Methinks anyone who starts up in business can be described as a SalesMan/Woman

They'd better be, or else


8:25 pm on Aug 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Loco's point is well taken -- BUT -- my YP rep serves as litle more than an order taker. She doesn't add value or bring particular expertise to the proposition as would a stockbroker or house painter.

<edited for typo>

[edited by: RossWal at 8:26 pm (utc) on Aug. 15, 2006]

Robert Charlton

11:12 pm on Sep 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

...BUT -- my YP rep serves as litle more than an order taker.

Then the YP companies whose reps dispense more forward-looking advice, products, and services will have an advantage, if they can sell these services for prices that work in the local marketplace.

I think they'll need to have a very holistic view of where local is going in order to succeed, as well as a sense of what kinds of businesses will thrive on the web and what a good product mesh will be for them.


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