Sell Like a Yellow Pages Rep, Part 1

John Tabita

Last week, I wrote about how web designers can transition to print. Here’s how to sell digital media like a print rep.

Selling Yellow Pages is challenging. Those who don’t leave for greener pastures eventually “bleed yellow”—meaning, once it’s in your system, no other job will satisfy. A few years ago, it was rumored that Google was looking to buy a Yellow Pages company because they wanted to acquire a street-savvy sales force, and Yellow Pages reps are among the best of the best.

Yet, many who have sold print advertising for years are struggling when it comes to digital products.

The disconnect occurs when you fixate on that last word: products. Successful selling means knowing your product, but that’s a small percentage of the skill required. Reps confuse themselves when they think they’re selling products instead of solutions or outcomes.

Print reps who can’t sell digital have forgotten what business owners actually want—customers. For the past 120 years, Yellow Pages advertising has connected buyers to sellers, by targeting a particular typer of consumer—one that’s looking for a seller. Today, that connection is taking place online as well.

So be it “old media” or new, Yellow Pages, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising—even social media—connects buyers to sellers.

Once you see the big picture perspective, selling like a Yellow Pages rep is easy—once you know how they do it, that is.

Be Prepared

Both Winston Churchill and Ben Franklin agree: He who fails to plan, plans to fail. A good rep finds out as much as possible about a prospect before setting foot inside the door—as well as how much or how little marketing they’re doing.

A good rep also knows he must have something prepared ahead of time to offer. Selling Yellow Pages advertising involves having three options ready: a dominant program, a competitive program and a representative program.

It works like this. If you never pitch a double-truck ad (a two-page spread), you’ll never sell a full-page ad. If you start with the full-page, you might sell a half-page. But if you present the half-page first, what will you end up with? The same applies to digital offerings.

When I started my web business, there wasn’t much to offer besides a website and SEO. Today, the digital buffet table has a much larger selection to choose from—mobile web design, social media, reputation marketing. As I’ve said before, consider moving beyond your particular expertise by becoming someone who consults with clients on all levels of marketing. I prefer to be paid for my knowledge and expertise rather than knowing the right buttons to push on a keyboard. But that’s just me.

Prospect, Prospect, Prospect

In order to set appointments, make presentations, and close enough sales to earn a living, you must generate conversations with a sufficient number of people in your target audience. This may mean attending networking meetings, cold-calling, and other prospecting methods.

Prospecting is an acquired skill—one that you must master if you want succeed at selling your services and avoid becoming a statistic.

Get the Facts

How can you have a sense of what your client needs without asking the right questions? Remember, prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.

Not sure what to ask? Get my free guide, 27.5 Must-Ask Questions for Consultative Selling, by following me on Facebook or Twitter.

Show the Value

Return on investment isn’t the only value driver, but it’s an important one. Your prospect must be convinced he’ll make more than he spends; otherwise the conversation is not likely to go much further.

Besides persuading the client he’ll achieve results, you must also must convince him that the return on investment is worth the risk, and that you are the best choice among the
available options.

That’s according to a report published by RAIN Group, What Sales Winners Do Differently. Sellers who not only connect and collaborate, but convince win the sale and put themselves in a position to win future sales.

… in our research, the winners convinced, and they convinced with gusto.

Even Google Agrees

Google’s new Partners program “resolves to help even more agencies succeed,” by providing free training, guidance and support.

That includes training videos on how to sell pay-per-click advertising using … guess what? The exact steps outlined above (and in Part 2, next week).

Coincidence? I think not.