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Yellow Pages Group of Canada, which is widely considered as one of the best positioned Yellow Pages companies in the world, will continue to focus on manning its sales channel, resisting efforts to rely too heavily on self-serve solutions, according to President and CEO Marc Tellier.

“Search engine companies will privately admit self service isn’t working,” Tellier said during his keynote at DMS ’08. “That’s the position were in. It is too easy to go to the lowest cost channel.”

Tellier noted that roughly 75 percent of his sales force is now face to face, up from 50 percent when he arrived seven years ago. The rest is largely phone-based. “We’re investing in the sales organization to provide that valuable advice” to small businesses.

One of the keys to the future success of the company is to make the sales channel more efficient, Tellier added. “We are transitioning from a product-driven to a service-driven approach,” he said. Along those lines, all YPG reps have tablet PCs and wireless connectivity. The tablets enable reps to consummate 87 percent of sales directly, without any administrative intervention.

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  1. Self-service may not work with that many customers today. But the standard technology adoption bell curve will apply here as it does everywhere else.
    a) 15% of the market (the slice of the bell curve on the far left hand side of the bell) are the early adopters who are comfortable with self service today
    b) Then to the right, on the top LH side of the bell you’ve got the EARLY mainstream market (35% of the market and the bell curve) who will follow the early adopters once the technology’s proven and really make it a mainstream market
    c) the LATE mainstream market – slower to adopt technology – occupies the next 35% of the market (adjacent to the early mainstream market at the top of the curve)
    d) then finally you’ve got the laggards who are the slowest to adopt the technology, representing the remaining 15% on the far right hand side of the bell curve of technology adoption.
    So I’d suggest it’s a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’ self service will take hold in a significant way.
    If you think I’m wrong, how many people do you know who use a secretary to type their emails?

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