Posts Tagged ‘Geiger-Schwab Consulting LLC’

Thoughts on Day 1 at BIA/Kelsey’s ILM West

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I’m very much enjoying my time here at BIA/Kelsey’s ILM West conference, taking place this week at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The event kicked off yesterday, and without question the highlight for me was the session “SuperForum: Sales Force Transformation,” which discussed the ongoing question on how to structure sales teams to successfully meet the demands of today’s fragmented media environment. Charles Laughlin, SVP and Program Director at BIA/Kelsey, moderated an expert panel that included Kris Barton of ReachLocal, Mark Canon of SmugCloud, Jeff Folckemer of LocalEdge and Kathy Geiger-Schwab of Geiger-Schwab Consulting.

Laughlin opened with the important reminder that in the realm of sales force transformation, “absolute success is hard to find, and fundamentally difficult to achieve.” He said that BIA/Kelsey would be publishing a foundational paper in early January that will explore attempts by Deseret Media Group, Dex One, Eniro, Yodle and others to make significant change in their approach to sales.

Pointing out that recent studies have determined that 79% of SMBs are either confused or don’t understand their digital options – and that 45% do not understand the ROI of their digital programs – Laughlin said that “the enormity of the challenge tends to be underestimated.”

Each of the panelists weighed in. Kris Burton explained that sending members of the tech team on sales visits has helped to close the gap in the understanding of client needs. Mark Canon observed that the SMB experience has changed, becoming much more complex with the proliferation of media choices. Jeff Folekemer said his company’s dashboard includes all of its products, making it easier to track supplier performance.

Kathy Geiger-Schwab, a former Berry executive and longtime expert in the sales improvement arena, suggested looking at the “CoreCo vs. the NewCo” She said companies should ensure that they continue to profit from their core business, while engaging a new team to build their future. She recommended “Profit From The Core” by Chris Zook and James Allen as a good read for those looking to transform their businesses.

The group discussed a variety of ways to improve sales teams, including:

  • Automating SMB research as a tool for sales teams to use
  • Watching your NPS (Net Promoter Score), but working with the baseline and be realistic about improvement
  • Creating websites for SMBs that reflect the business’ identity
  • Create a long-term business plan that emphasizes that success takes time
  • Moving to resellers wherever possible and using their embedded investment to your advantage

And perhaps the most important message the panel had to sales teams out there was not to let what you know get in the way of what you don’t know. At the end of the day, change scares the entire management team. So to transform your sales force, start with the top and work down.

‘Search Starts Here’: Reinventing the Directory Organization

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our own Brad Carson, vice president of operations, moderated a relevant and insightful conversation yesterday morning with change management experts about the bold moves necessary to drive the transformation of global directory organizations into multi-platform local media agencies.

While the session highlighted numerous successful approaches and provided valuable recommendations on what our industry can do to ensure its continued leadership in local search, I wanted to highlight several topics that really caught my attention.

Peter Buxton, principal at Buxton Independent Consulting and a veteran of ITT World Directories, discussed the successful road taken by Pages Jaunes, to become an innovative and well-respected digital player.

Buxton explained how Pages Jaunes recognized in 2000 that consumers and advertisers would be increasingly turning to digital local search options. He noted that the company was able to successfully build out its online offerings: today, more than half its revenue is in digital and its website, Pagesjuanes.fr, is fifth most-visited in France.

Buxton described actions taken by the Pages Jaunes to reinvest in its print offerings – including re-scoping, redesigning, and updating pricing – that have helped mitigate revenue declines. He said the company is  known in France as a “sexy” and “modern” multimedia company that is at the cutting edge of its field.

Buxton also said that any strategy undertaken by a company in our industry isn’t a good one unless it can be implemented through its sales force. He said that sales teams should be confident and excited when speaking with clients about the value of print Yellow Pages and constructive about how the platform can work in their marketing plans.

Kathy Geiger-Schwab, principal at Geiger-Schwab Consulting LLC, highlighted several “rules” that print publishers should live by in their transition efforts. Geiger-Schwab noted that CEOs must be executive champions of change, that leadership must be aligned and that companies must not just remodel their growth but reinvent it completely.

Geiger-Schwab also said that the industry must deliver on every promise it makes to customers in order to retain their trust. She added that sales teams must know the value proposition of each offering in their portfolio and not push options that don’t have value to particular customers. She suggests an honest, open approach will pay off significantly down the line.

Richard Selvaraj, senior program manager – Media & Information Services BPO at Tata Consultancy Services, discussed his company’s partnerships with directory publishers to optimize operational efficiency and reduce costs. Selvaraj said Tata can provide support around key data functions including account, ordering and listing management and creative areas like in-column ad production, pagination and display ad production. He suggested that publishers look to outsourcing these functions as a way to improve profitability.