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Yodle Challenges Conventional Local Sales, SEM Wisdom

By: 17 August 2012

Yodle

This week we caught up with Yodle CEO Court Cunningham to talk about how his company uses data and technology to gain insights that help improve results and drive down customer acquisition costs. Cunningham will be a featured speaker at BIA/Kelsey’s SMB Digital Marketing conference next month in Chicago.

New York-based Yodle sells digital advertising solutions to small businesses. It competes with the likes of Yext and ReachLocal. The company was founded in 2005, and generates about $130 million in revenue from roughly 30,000 customers. Yodle relies on about 350 inside sales reps to acquire customers. Cunningham says Yodle takes a somewhat unconventional approach to how it identifies good sales reps.

Cunningham tells us that by analyzing the metadata around the call activity (call duration, outcome, etc.) it generates for customers, as regular analysis of nearly 150 million keywords has led Yodle to a number of insights that have led Yodle to make tactical decisions that defy conventional wisdom.

One such example involves the number of times a company can contact a sales prospect unsuccessfully before “burning” the lead. Yodle has determined from statistical analysis that it is possible to contact a record (sales prospect) considerably more times (more than 2X) than conventional wisdom suggests.

Cunningham also has a lot of unconventional things to say about sales effectiveness.

“Drive, persistence and optimism are the attributes that equate to success in a sales reps, and everyone knows that,” Cunningham says. “Yet most companies don’t interview for these attributes.”

Cunningham contents that most sales organizations recruit for conventional qualities like attractiveness and aggressiveness, when in fact these attributes don’t always equate to the drive, persistence and optimism that are consistent predictors of success.

Cunningham jokes that one of his most effective sales associates is someone who is so retiring that “You would need to turn up your hearing aid to hear him at a party.” Hardly the common image of an alpha sales rep.

Last year Yodle acquired Austin, TX, based Profit Fuel, an SEO firm that helped Yodle reach down into the lower ARPA market.

Sales effectiveness and managing customer acquisition costs will be key themes of Cunningham’s session next month in Chicago.

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Maximizing Local ‘Independent’ Sales
What has worked and hasn’t worked in local “independent” sales? How can local sales better engage (and upsell) SMBs? Can local sales motivate more deals and more attractive discounts? We’ll get valuable insights from Yodle leader Court Cunningham.
Court Cunningham, CEO, Yodle

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