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5 Things the Yellow Pages Taught Us

Remember the yellow pages?

Anyone over the age of 30 does and yet today the number of people who use the yellow pages is a tiny fraction of what it used to be.

To protect your sales motivation and improve your selling skills, here are five things you can learn from the yellow pages:

1. Does the product / service fill a real need?

I can’t tell you the number of times in my own business I would receive phone calls from yellow page salespeople trying to convince me why my consulting business needed to have a big block ad in the yellow pages.

Sorry, but it doesn’t now and it never did.

These salespeople were trying to use their standard sales pitch on every business.  Tailoring the presentation to the needs of the customer is absolutely essential. If you don’t, all you do is risk alienating the prospect.

2. Is the price fair?

The yellow pages for far too long thought they were a monopoly and they priced accordingly.  When someone is asked to buy from a monopoly at a price they feel is too high, they do the only natural thing — find another option.  Because advertising in the yellow pages was so expensive, it opened the door for numerous other advertising vehicles.

3. Arrogant selling will get you nowhere.

When someone is selling what they believe is a monopoly, it is only natural they become arrogant and stop listening to the customer.  When salespeople stop listening, customers will in time stop buying.

4. Don’t wait to change.

Yes it can be hard to change when the profit margins are high and life is good, but that is the perfect time to change.  Change is never easy but it’s much better to change when you still have options than to wait until it’s too late.

5. Listen to the customer. All 4 of the points are above are really due to not listening to the customer.  Maybe if the yellow page industry had been listening to the customer all along, they would have realized they’re in the advertising/marketing business, not the suppliers of thick books.

I’m not writing this to bash the yellow page industry.  I know a lot of people who had a very good career selling ads for telephone books.

The reason I’m writing this is because every industry goes through an evolutionary period.  For some it can be measured in months, for others it’s years or even decades.  The fact is simple — businesses evolve, and as salespeople, we must evolve with it.

Take the time to look at what it is you sell and who you sell to.

What do you see on the horizon you need to change or do differently?  I’m simply trying to spur your thinking — so you’ll be prepared.

Copyright 2011, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog

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