Where have all the salespeople gone? Gone for cicadas everyone?

So, about a month ago, Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide came out, with Biblio.com listed as the 361st largest e-commerce company in the U.S. Really not big news in and of itself, as we’ve been on the list for a few years now. The significant thing is that we barely noticed this year.

You see, for us, the arrival of the top 500 guide heralds the annual Coming of the Cold Calls, as our voicemail gets clogged with “congratulations on being the top 500… just wanted to see if you had a moment to discuss ways we can help you deliver synergistic ways to leverage and maximize your vertical integration…” Our customer service lines are filled with casual “yeah, this is Bob, I’m a friend of Bill’s – is he there?” (names changed to protect the innocent) – as salespeople seek to infiltrate our guard. Swarms of e-mail descend on us. After a couple of weeks, we get assaulted by really strange pieces of marketing ephemera: big cardboard cutouts of stick figures, wooden choo-choo trains (not horses, thankfully), packets of wildflower seeds, and the usual bedazzling assortment of pens, pencils, stickers and fliers. Only to be followed by a second wave invasion of calls. And a third, and a fourth, and on, until the pitch has morphed from vacation getaways to don’t-let-Christmas-get-away.

This year, none of that happened. Well, almost none. In fact, the only thing we had to defend ourselves against this spring were the 17-year-cicada-devil-bugs-from-hell – to coin Jim’s lyric description of them.

So, we’re left wondering if its just that we’ve also found fame in the secret Top 500 Cheapskate Guide, and the salespeople have finally just decided our money isn’t the right color after all. Or, is this just a symptom of the broader plight of the U.S. economy?

I really haven’t seen much in the way of news on the specific effects of the downturn on the B2B sphere, but it would seem to stand to reason that sales would be down a bit. I know we’ve been a little more chincy than usual (if possible), not necessarily because we’re feeling the drag yet, but because we’re afraid we might feel the drag in the future. (Which, of course, is precisely the self-fulfilling prophecy that causes economic downturns.) But wouldn’t this make sales teams hungrier than ever? Shouldn’t we need to be bunkered down with armed security at every entrance right now?

Or maybe we need to get our hands on a copy of the Other List after all.

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