Customer 2.0 and Channel Fragmentation

I’ve been noticing something recently. First it was a suspicion and now I managed to cobble together some data that makes me think this is real. I’m calling it “channel fragmentation” (not sure where that came from but it will do as a working title).

What I think is going on is as we introduce more ways to communicate we (and most importantly our customer) spreads their communication over these channels – leaving less concentration on any one channel itself.

When we only had the desk telephone you could reach more people on it as that was the only channel they used for all their communication. They picked it up as it might be their customer on the other end.

Then we got cell phones (I’ll skip over beepers for now and pretend that didn’t happen – a bit too uncool really.) Now you could give that number to just the important people and not let others know the secret cell number. Now you did not have to pay as much attention to the desk phone any more as the really important people had your cell.

Right there it got harder for sales people to get through.

Then email. At first it was rather novel and you got emails from people you actually knew. Now it’s getting like the mailbox at the end of my driveway full of marketing emails and newsletters you forget you signed up for. Everyone now and then a real person is in your inbox but you have to scan to find them. So we scan our emails before reading. Scan.

Now we’ve got social media. Hey Twitter that’s cool. But there’s lots of pitches on Twitter already too. So we start scanning Tweets too.

OK you get it. Mr. Customer 2.0’s attention is quite fragmented.

So what do we sales folks do. Give up on certain channels and maybe miss the opportunity to catch our customer’s fleeting attention there? Give up on a channel knowing that our competitors may eat our cereal there? Try to communicate and LISTEN on all channels?

Bottom line seems to be one of time management. Can we communicate (and listen) on so many channels effectively? How do you apportion your time? 80% prospecting by phone, 10% on Twitter, 10% email prospecting and 0% Linkedin etc. Or 30% prospecting by phone, 30% email prospecting, 20% on Linkedin and 20% on Twitter? etc.

What do you think? How should sales people manage such fragmented channels of communication?
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PS while I was writing this (literally I did not see this before – message from the Universe?) I just noticed this new post from the awesome Seth The inevitable decline due to clutter. I must have been reading Linchpin too much as Seth’s post seems to be related to this post.

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