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Imagining Customer Conversations In 140…..

by David Brock on April 4th, 2014

It seems attention spans and communications are contracting and getting abbreviated.

Politicians address the deepest most important issues facing all of us with nothing more than sound bites.  Try to go deeper, and you discover there’s nothing underlying the sound bites.

Likewise much of our communication is getting abbreviated to the point of losing all meaning and driving misunderstanding.  We communicate complex issues in bullet points, texts, tweets.  We may attach a link that does a deep dive into an issue, but we know no one clicks on it and actually reads it.

Not long ago, I read a white paper from a client, they were asking my opinion.  It was brilliant!  They had articulated one of the most critical issues facing their customers, developed deep insight about the issue and had some outstanding ideas.  It didn’t mention a single product they sold.  It had a clear call to action, provoking the customer to engage them in deep conversations about the issue and impact on their businesses.  As importantly, it was very readable and less than 2500 words–only a few pages.  When I responded about it’s brilliance, I asked, “What’s the problem, how are your customers and prospects responding?”  The CMO responded, “Well, we’ve gotten a lot of requests for it, but it turns out people don’t take the time to read it.”

It seems too many of our conversations are devolving.  They are becoming sound bites with little substance, bullet points with no back up, answers that aren’t probed for understanding, questions that don’t get to the real issue, conversations without substance or meaning—many moving to electronic sound bites, where human interaction is distant and asynchronous.

I see it in comments and responses to blog posts.  Tweets with comments based only on the title of the article.  I can imagine the number of tweets responding to this title talking about the power of Twitter as a sales tool.  I get dozens of LinkedIn comments based solely on the title of the article in the discussion (and what you see of the first sentence or two).  Of course I’m too polite to respond what I’m thinking:  “You fool, you’ve just demonstrated your stupidity and lack of professionalism to the world.  Anyone who read the article could never come up with a comment as stupid as yours and it’s clear you are just responding to the title.  Is this the way you deal with customer conversations?”

Which got me to thinking………..

What would a sales call look like in 140?

@Salesperson:  How are you today? #pleasebuymyproduct

@Customer: @Salesperson, I”m awfully busy, what can I do #dontwastemytime

@Salesperson:  I’ve got Insight #IjustfinishedChallenger

@Customer I did too! RT@Salesperson got Insite #IjustfinishedChallenger

@Salesperson: Gr8t! Can you see how it improves $’s? #ROI

@Customer:  #WTF! I don’t know what Insite did U give? #Imgettingpissed

@Salesperson:  Our new product addresses these issues #pleasebuymyproduct #quota

@Customer:  You lost me, where R we going? #dontwastemytime

@Salesperson:  Who’s involved in deciding about this solution? #RUagatekeeper

@Customer:  What are we talking about? #confused #whereisthisgoing

@Customer:  I make $150M decisions by myself #Imagatekeeper #Don’tesclate #blowoff

@Salesperson: Gr8t, what are your decision criteria? #Ihopehedoesn’tsay$

@Customer:  I don’t know what you are talking about but it’s always #lowprice

@Salesperson: #lowprice?  I can see if I get a discount

@Customer: What issue/prblm R we talking about #Imconfused

@Saleperson:  We’ve moved past the Insite part #pleasebuymyproduct

@Customer: I still don’t know what we are talking about #WIIFM!!!

@Salesperson:  Let me send you a proposal  http://wp.me/p2yFT4-evQ

@Salesperson:  I’ve got these cool brochures  http://wp.me/p2yFT4-evQ

@Salesperson:  And we have an app!  http://wp.me/p2yFT4-evQ

@Customer: #frustrated OK send them to me #fileintrash #SPAM

@Salesperson: THX!

@Salesperson:  @Salesmanager Just closed a gr8t deal! #forecast #quota #commission

@Salesperson #FF @Customer  Gr8t Guy!  Loves sales people!

@Customer #unfollow  #noKlout RT@Salesperson #FF @Customer

Somehow, I’m just not equipped to engage customers or my peers in just 140.  Engagement comes through deep understanding, probing, challenging, and collaboration.  It comes through conversations.  It’s rooted in trust, a relationship, and caring.

Or maybe it’s just me?

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4 Comments
  1. LOL. From the title, I thought you were going to say we needed do get our conversations down to 140 characters. Didn’t sound like you!

    I particularly liked the response to #Ijustfinishedchallenger when the customer says “I did to!”. No doubt buyers are getting trained to rebut generic, boilerplate claims with demand for depth and specificity…that can be pretty humiliating if not prepared.

    At the end of the day we’ve got to get to the point, and fast. But the point better be backed up with substance, otherwise it is going fast off a cliff.

    • Thanks Jim, you know me well, I could never get anything down to 140—as much as some people would like me to 😉

  2. Doug Schmidt permalink

    Dave, As you mentioned before you never received a purchase order via twitter it is difficult if not impossible to tweet “trust”. I consider Twitter kind of like the Morse Code in today’s communication world. Not everyone understands it at the same time some people use it as a communication tool.
    From my perspective while communication technologies are useful tools, a basic question I am starting to ask anyone I am about to develop a business relationship with is “Do I and why should I trust you”. Do the behaviors and expertise of experts match their communications and are they congruent with what they say? Or is Seth Godin mentioned it is important “to listen to not what people say but what they do”.

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