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Court Cunningham, CEO of Yodle, made news at ILM West this afternoon, announcing a three-year deal with Canada’s Rogers Communicationsduring a 15-minute Q&A with BIA/Kelsey analyst Bobbi Loy Luster. Rogers is a leading communications company in Canada. Its deal to use Yodle’s technology and services to sell online media solutions bundles to Canadian SMBs is a potentially serious challenge to Media, arguably Canada’s reigning SMB player.

Cunningham also revealed that Yodle has been added to Google’s Premier Partner List.

Cunningham and Luster used most of the time slot to go through Yodle’s local sales best proactives. Yodle has been around since 2005, and currently has 28,000 customers, adding 1,000 new customers every month. Cunningham notes that the company now has a large enough customer base to produce data sufficient to accurate predict its ability to generate quality leads.

Yodle used inside sales, after having experimented with a mixture of inside and outside sales. Cunnigham said experience has shown his team that outside sales can get higher budgets from SMBs but they noticed no significant difference in churn. What does impact churn, he said, are low price points and bundling.

“The SMB is confused,” he said. “What they want is a trusted provider to serve as their marketing deparment.”

Looking deeper at retention, Cunningham listed key elements as setting expectations, delivering on those expectations in relatively high touch service environement (Yodle has business development reps to acquire customers and and account manangement to service them). Then reporting back to SMBs with the results.

So it’s obviously critical that products perform as expected. It also points to the need for a controlled sales environment — another benefit of having inside sales. It’s much easier to monitor the sales messaging of an inside than an outside sales rep.

Cunningham said Yodle initially had higher price points, ranging from $800 to $2,000 per month. The range now starts much lower, at around $150. As Cunningham notes, “Eighty percent of our customers have fewere than eight employees.” The company’s cheapest product promises six to 10 leads per month.

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