In my latest article on SitePoint, Transactional vs. Consultative Selling: Knowing the Difference Makes All the Difference, I compared the transactional sale with a consultative one. In Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati’s new book, he explores the fallacy that media companies are “consultative and customer focused.” According to the article, salespeople are saying “I’ll talk about your needs so long as it leads to you only buying my portfolio of solutions …” but that they are “communicating with customers through a product lens (with a pre-determined end in mind).” That’s a problem.
Consultative or collaborative selling is about transparency and building solutions that fit the customer’s needs and not necessarily the media company’s balance sheet. If a salesperson is aiming to sell a specific product set, and is willing to un-sell other potential solutions, then this version of consultative selling is merely disguised as the same transactional selling of old … (Italics Mine)
Many in the web marketing industry seem more than willing to un-sell other potential solutions to improve their bottom line. Like this one, who claims that “Yellow Pages are going the way of the Door-to-Door Encyclopedia salesman—extinct,” based solely on an impromptu survey in a roomful of 300 people (in which only “one person in the back of the room” indicated they had used the Yellow Pages in the past three months). She neglected to mention marketing research firm Burke, Inc.’s year-long study of 8,000 adults which found that 74 percent used print Yellow Pages over the course of the year to find a local business—just slightly behind the 76 percent who used a search engine. (She also neglected to posted my comment in which I shared this data with her audience.)
The article on BIA/Kelsey’s Local Media Watch blog about Professor Gulati’s book goes on to say this:
Media consultants recognize there are many media options available to advertisers and that at times their portfolio of media offerings has to co-exist or complement other media and at other times they must fight to win budget from media that may not be as effective or is receiving too large of a share of an advertiser’s budget. Being able to counsel local advertisers on media strengths and weaknesses means salespeople must learn about all types of local media to be effective in selling their own portfolio of media options.
I’m in a unique position of having worked in both web marketing and the Yellow Page industries, so I’m not tempted to pit one against another. Make sure whomever is giving you marketing advice is well-versed in “all types of local media,” and not making recommends based on their own biased opinion masquerading as fact.