Skip to content

When Is An Interruption Not An Interruption?

by David Brock on April 6th, 2022

I see lots of conversations about “interrupting our customers.” There are various opinions, pro and con. But, frankly, I think too many are, largely, missing the point. An interruption is only an interruption when we waste that person’s time!

As a result, the discussion should be more focused on, “How do we create value in every interaction with our customers?”

Let me unpack these a little.

There are some, “no interruption,” advocates. Basically, the thinking is, “We will respond to the customer outreach.” That outreach can be an inbound request. It can be a discussion about next steps, follow-up, in a buying process. Waiting for the customer to reach out, is a disservice to the customer. The customer will never reach out, if they don’t know there is a problem or there is a better way to do things. The customer will never reach out if they don’t know what they should be doing next, what questions they should be be asking, how they should move forward in their process.

We owe it to our customers to help them recognize the need to change, perhaps inciting them to change. Once they have done this, we need to help guide them through their buying process. What should they be doing next, who should they involve, what questions should they be asking, what have others done that they might learn from, how do we help them make sense of what they are learning/doing?

If we don’t, proactively, intervene, helping the customer learn, whether it’s about the possibility of doing things differently, or it’s about the next things they need to do in their buying process; nothing will change, they won’t be able to move forward. They may be missing things, if they don’t address, could cause them to fail.

If we care about our customers and their success, we owe it to them to intervene!

But this is where the problem about interruptions occurs. Too often, we don’t care. We only care about what we want to achieve. Whether it is making our daily dial or opens goals. Or possibly, we are focused on pitching our product, moving the customer through our selling process, forcing them to buy the way we want them to buy. We act on what’s most important to us and our ability to achieve our goals, not what the customers’.

Alternatively, we are clueless, we don’t know how to add value to the customer–either inciting them to initiative a change, or help them navigate their buying process. We call aimlessly. We reach customers far outside our ICP, customers who we can’t serve, even if they listen to our pitch. We talk about things that are meaningless or irrelevant to the customer. Rather than guiding them through their buying process, helping them think about what’s next, we “check in.” We see how they are doing, ask when they are making a decision, ask if they have questions.

None of these create value for the customer, but just waste their time. In the worst case, they may waste more time trying to figure out if they should be paying attention, maybe the misunderstood, maybe they should do something, maybe they are missing something. But the problem is, they get no help or direction from the sales person.

When we are driven by serving the customers, when we are driven by creating real value with the customer, our “interruptions,” become welcome and valued.

Let’s talk a little about interruptions. Here there is a little arrogance and continued self centered thinking. The reality is that the customer is always in control of “being interrupted.” For example, my phone rings constantly through the day. I choose whether I want to pick up the call. The person on the other end of the line has no control over whether I choose to interrupt what I’m doing to respond. Likewise, email, text, social media messages.

If I don’t want the distraction of hearing the phone ring, or seeing messages flow into my inbox, I turn them off. I can look at these later, when I choose to do so.

Being interrupted, whether by a selling outreach, a colleague, or simply our own distraction is human nature. There’s a huge amount of data about the number of interruptions each of us experiences every hour (I think it’s in the 100’s.). There’s a lot of data about how long it takes for us to resume a task once we interrupt ourselves. There are lots of things each of us do to reduce these, or at least to choose those things that create most value for us.

Interrupting is not a choice we make, rather a choice the customer makes—100% of the time. It’s the customer reaction to the choice they make that we can manage and should care about. Does the customer feel they have used their time well? Have they learned something? Have they discovered how they can move forward?

The debate about interrupting is a distraction. It misses the real point. It enables us to rationalize not doing our jobs or living up to our responsibility to our customers and our customers.

The real issue we are avoiding is, “How do we create value in every interaction with the customer?”

Let’s talk about how we do this, why we don’t and what we need to change. Let’s stop using the discussion of interruptions to distract us from what we should be talking about.

Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample
Be Sociable, Share!
Please follow and like us:
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS