I just got off the phone with a salesperson from Yelp.  Needless to say, I am very disappointed.

As a provider of social media consulting services to businesses in Davis, CA and the surrounding community, I really wanted to know more about Yelp and the advertising services they have to offer.  Essentially, I wanted to understand the services Yelp has to offer and  see how their advertising model could benefit my clients.

So, last week,  when I received a call from a Yelp salesperson, to setup an appointment to discuss the benefits of advertising with Yelp, I eagerly accepted. We briefly discussed my needs as a business and my needs as a consultant and a time was set.

The Yelp salesperson mentioned that he worked off of his calendar so if a reschedule was needed, he requested that I contact him and let him know of any changes.  A follow-up call and an email from my Yelp salesperson confirmed our appointment.

Now, imagine my surprise when my scheduled appointment time with my Yelp salesperson arrives and I do not receive a phone call.   To me, when a person says he works off his calendar, I would infer that the call would be timely.

Five minutes late, the phone call arrives.  My salesperson informed me he was busy with another customer.  It is great that he is busy.  But what I heard him say was, “I was busy making a sale and I needed to wrap that up before getting to you.”

I can understand his perspective. A bird in the hand is always better than two in the bush. Unfortunately, that axiom does not fit well when it comes to customer service and relationship development.  I could safely say I was not his most important call of the day.

We then proceeded through a little Q&A session where my salesperson asked me questions about my business; how many customers I have, how much I charge for my services, how I currently advertise my business, etc.

I’m not sure how the line of questioning fit into the Yelp advertising model.  Perhaps the questions helped my salesperson determine if my business would benefit from their advertising services. Or, perhaps most of the questions were filler and an attempt at developing a conversation.

There could have been more questions and more conversation, but I think I answered his most important question incorrectly.  The question was, “Do you think you would be interested in increasing sales by advertising through Yelp?”

From that point on, the conversation was flat.  I really wanted to learn more about their advertising model. I wanted to pass that information along to my clients and help them make informed decisions about where to put their advertising dollars.  In turn, I would forward interested clients along to Yelp for additional assistance. But that was not going to happen.

After asking my asking a few questions, trying to jump-start the conversation, my salesperson ended our call by saying, “I don’t want to waste your day.  I recommend you have your clients claim their business on Yelp and be sure to add a lot of photos.  People like photos. If they have any questions, have them contact me directly.”

What I heard was, “Sorry buddy, I’m on commission and since I’m not making a sale, I need to move on.”

Total sales call length:  14 min.

Am I surprised at the progress of the conversation?  Not really. I am merely disappointed.  My salesperson failed to see the value of the relationship I wanted to build.  I wanted to learn about Yelp advertising and how it could benefit small local business owners seeking to increase brand visibility and bring new customers into the door.  If Yelp advertising was a good fit for my client, I would forward them along to my salesperson.

What really strikes me odd is that Yelp is considered a social media platform and my salesperson was not that social; no thought about relationship building and definitely no thought about the long-game.  Short-term success, long-term failure.

Will I no longer recommend using Yelp to my clients as a result of this horrible sales experience?  Absolutely not.  Yelp is a critical component of  an integrated marketing solution.  It integrates business information, social, reviews, and mobile access into a complete business marketing package. I will continue to recommend Yelp to my customers as part of a total Internet marketing solution.

What will happen is I will be cautious about recommending Yelp advertising to my clients.  Will the Yelp salespeople have the best interests of my clients in mind? Or, will they only be looking for a sale?

For now, I will err on the side of caution.  Further info on Yelp advertising is certainly needed before I am comfortable recommending this service to my clients.

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