Infrastructure of channels. Channels of communication
The other day I went through my list of prospects and realized I never heard back from this guy whom when we spoke about 2 months ago, he sounded extremely interested to speak further with me. I got to him through a LinkedIn targeted campaign which had a link to schedule a one-on-one with me as a call for action. I decided to practice what I preach and utilize one of the elements of Emotional Relevance® and Stand Out. Do something a bit different that will capture his attention and called him on his cell. Lucky for me he picked up. A bit defensive at first as he did not recognize the number but then, realizing it was me, he sounded genuinely happy to hear from me.
Prospect: ”HEY ALON!! So good to hear from you. It’s been way too long. I was expecting to hear from you much sooner, you said you will contact me back. I started wondering about you.”
Me: “But I did reach out to you, twice since we last spoke. Never heard back and figured I’d make one more attempt before I am truly convinced you are not interested.”
Prospect: “What are you talking about? I never received any message from you. Did you leave a voicemail?”
Me: “A voicemail? No, I sent you those messages through LinkedIn direct messaging”
Prospect: “Oh man, last time I logged into LinkedIn was pretty much….never. My former admin used to do that for me, but she has been out on maternity leave for almost three months. I don’t even know my login there…next time you want to reach me either text or email me”
In this blog I write a lot about communication. And more than once I have written about the basic cycle of communication that includes a sender, a channel of communication, a receiver and….feedback. This feedback many times goes back on another channel of communication than the one the original message was sent through. Usually, communicating with others, is through multiple channels. An entire infrastructure of channels, channels of communication that is. The one thing that was missing for him and that could have made Alexander graham Bell a very successful businessman.
In the past, face to face was the main channel of communication for us humans. Then the phone was added, followed by fax, email and…text. Today, there are many many more. Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, Whatsapp, Skype, Slack to name a few. The key in this basic cycle of communication, with anyone really, is to make sure your message as a sender, is being understood as best possible. For that, you simply must understand the infrastructure of channels of communication out there, identify which channels your customer is tuned into and broadcasting on, for which needs and for what purpose. Otherwise, whatever it is you are broadcasting will be received by the wrong audience if received at all. Just like that prospect of mine from LinkedIn.
When you first establish a relationship with your client, make sure you understand their entire set of communication channels they use. How often and their preferred channel for which type of communication. The way I look at it, there are three levels of communication:
1. On-going, routine – nothing really urgent, can refer back to it, partial history of communication, fairly detailed type of communication
2. Immediate/instant – important, would love on the spot response, not detailed, very little information to refer to
3. Ad-hock, on demand – detailed information, on display, entire picture of project, lots to refer back to
For your content to be broadcasted and received well, you need to assess these three elements of communication both on the organization level as well as the individual level. The corporate and the leisure. It is very common for the organization to be using Slack internally for instant messaging but on an individual level, your point of contact prefers texting. Are they using Zoom, WebEx, TEAM for their online communication? How is email being used by them? Is it a more formal mean of communication? And you, the technical contact, do you prefer I texted you, called you? emailed you?
Then, as your relationship develops and deepens and you get closer and more personal with your relationship with each one of them, find out how best to communicate with them on their leisure side of things. Are they using LinkedIn a lot? Facebook? Do they have an Instagram account? How about Snapchat? TikTok? Twitter? Are they “partying” on Clubhouse?
You as a service provider, simply have to be able and communicate on each channel your clients are. As technology is spreading and social media is becoming mainstream you better be prepared to tune into each channel possible.
“It is not, of course, complete yet - but some sentences were understood this afternoon... I feel that I have at last struck the solution of a great problem - and the day is coming when telegraph wires will be laid onto houses just like water or gas - and friends converse with each other without leaving home."
I went to the doctor last week. Called them up on the phone to setup an appointment (Channel1 – phone). While I was on hold, the recording recommended I go to their website and schedule an appointment there (channel 2 – website). On their website I was prompted to download their app (Channel 4 – app) and like their Facebook page (channel 5 – WHAT?? They have a Facebook page???). Right after my visit I received an email asking how they did and “would you please fill out this survey?” (Channel 6 – email) and a day later got a text reminding me to pick up my prescription (Channel 7 – text). And while they didn’t do a great job on asking ME which channel of communication is the one preferred by me, they definitely invested in their communication infrastructure. Good for them.
Once you understand the channels of communication your clients use, make sure you use the relevant channel for the relevant situation. The more you understand THEIR infrastructure of communication, the more successful you will be in communicating WITH them.
Most people don’t realize but Alexander Graham Bell ended his career as a miserable and frustrated salesman knocking on doors trying to sell his latest invention….the telephone. The problem of course was that even if someone was intrigued by this new invention, this new channel of communication, they couldn’t really call anyone else as very few people had phones those days. And those who did happen to have it were most likely….your next door neighbor but for that you could simply yell to them.
You see, what Alexander Bell was missing was the infrastructure of channels. Channels of communication.