The company hopes to have 180 sales (inside, outside and national) people stationed there by June, which should help to capture a greater share of the small business market that “don’t react well to Internet ad jargon” as Newcomb put it. There is already a smaller inside sales operation in Los Angeles, as Peter pointed out last week. The expansion could also signal future plans for the resurging Citysearch to grow similar sales efforts in other metros. This is likely a test run for the effectiveness and cost structure of such a sales tool in Citysearch’s model.
The affinity among SMEs to self provision is growing, but there is still a proven need for and an advantage in having a physical sales force. In Citysearch’s case, this will mostly involve “consultative” sales agents in call centers. Next month we’ll release a report on the many strategies in the marketplace to expand the addressable market of online advertisers by bringing more small businesses online with attractive Web site (or landing page) hosting and optimization offers the “webification of SMEs,” as we’ve referred to it in the past.