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There has been lots of talk lately (more so than normal it seems) about evolving the Yellow Pages sales channel to a more consultative role for bringing in leads of all forms — to be “agnostic,” as is often said.

This has been a message we’ve heard for a while, but it seems the dial has been turned up on the talk but also to a certain degree the walk. There is still a long way to go, but we’re seeing more sales channel partnerships and even online pure-plays making moves toward building small sales forces.

The former was most recently exemplified by AT&T’s four-year contract extension with Marchex, and the latter by ReachLocal’s $55 million funding last week. There are lots of other examples such as Citysearch and Smalltown‘s small but growing local sales force (recruiting is an issue here, as pointed out last week by Michael Taylor).

Sebastien Provencher, reporting from the Web 2.0 show, gives a nod to the issue in relation to comments by Steve Ballmer, and the TKG column this month in Search Engine Watch takes a look. This was also a big theme at the DDC conference and it will surely get some airtime at ILM/ SES Local, which takes place Nov. 28-30 is Los Angeles. Hope to see you there.

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