What Salespeople can Learn from the Phone Book – by Mike Leeds

In the 1979 film “The Jerk,” Steve Martin’s character shouts “The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here! …Page 73 – Johnson, Navin R.! I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday!”

There was a time that we all depended on this publication to get contact information for both people and businesses. However, times are changing and we need to keep up with changing trends to keep our businesses in front of our prospects.

The Phone Book does still live on – but it’s much smaller than it used to be. In Phoenix for instance, the business yellow pages used to be split into two books (A-L and M-Z) and each was over two inches thick. Today, that same book is less than two inches thick and includes the business yellow pages (A-Z) as well as the white pages. Many people will even claim that these books are out-dated as soon as they are published.

Businesses that publish these books are also expanding their directory and advertising services on-line to make sure they are attracting all demographics and staying current with the information provided.

Businesses that advertise may still use these directory services (both print and on-line), but many are using other tools (either in-place or in-addition) to increase their exposure.

Sales People need to keep up with the changing times as well. What worked yesterday, may not work today. I’m not suggesting that everything be changed, but we do need to keep our approaches up-to-date.

Product life cycles change through the years, in addition to how we sell our products and services. Below, are some thoughts to keep in mind:

  • How have our customers or prospects changed through the years (demographically)?
  • What is the best way to reach these people, and how are we adjusting our approaches?
  • How have our customers’ or prospects’ needs changed through the years?
  • How have our products/services changed over time, and how are they still relevant?
  • What are we doing to assure we maximize our potential with customer or prospect visibility, as well as how we interact?
  • How are we going to handle our customers or prospects that are still doing it the same way they have been for years, and not updating?

We need to make sure that our approach and our strategy is still relevant for the business we are looking to expand, and doesn’t go the way of many products of the past (i.e. carbon paper, typewriters, and 8-track tapes). Now, I’m feeling old….


Mike Leeds

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