Why The Business Of Interruption Is Coming To An End

Amar Sheth
Amar Sheth


In the not too distant future, the connection economy will crush lazy brands and businesses like never before. The traditional reach, influence and power that these brands have typically enjoyed will largely disappear.

Bold statements to make right off the bat, right?

I don’t know when this will happen but minds that are far better predictors put this period 10-15 years out in the future.

The question is why?

One of the greatest inventors in the world, Thomas Edison, has a quote that’s timeless as it is classic.

“Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”

I’m going to put this quote into a much different context:

Generate revenue from 1% of your activities, while 99% provide lots of value.

While the 1% and 99% figures are hypothetical, they represent the radical notion that as the economy and people become more connected, the bulk of your present value may have to be given away for (near) free while you innovate and monetize future value.

Content marketing aims to practice this, but what about actually giving away so much of your product or service away that customers scratch their head in awe?

This may very well end up being the most successful business model for brands and individuals alike.

And guess what? Google is already practicing this.

99% Bang, 1% Buck

While you may know that the majority of Google’s revenue comes from ads, what you likely don’t know is that only 1.19% of Google’s US searches result in an ad click.

This effectively means that Google’s go-to-market strategy, to charge advertisers when someone clicks on their ads, is to give most of their product away for free. In 2014, ad dollars were 89.5% of Google’s revenues.


In 2014, $53.36B USD of Google’s revenue was derived from online advertising, though only 1.19% of Google’s US searches result in an ad click.

Think about it: the core product, the search engine, is free. Its value is identical to all users. Its mission to provide answers to our queries is sacrosanct. Whether you click on an ad or not is your choice, not Google’s.

But they monetize the context to the query by matching buyer and seller. That’s it.

The Death of Interruption

Whether you agree with Google’s business model, the fact remains that it’s demonstrating that the business of mass interruption is coming to an end.

Before I’m accused for being “anti-cold calling,” consider that seeking information and getting what you need is far more appealing than being randomly interrupted by people guessing what you need/want. As well intended as this approach may be, as helpful the solutions may be, the fact that the overwhelming majority of people don’t like interruption doesn’t change.

This is what Google has figured out. You only use it when it makes sense for you. And they make money (89.5% of it) when an advertiser’s solutions seem intriguing to you.

The Impact on Sales Professionals

Customers want to buy, they just don’t want to be sold to. How many times have we heard that? And it’s true, in my experience and belief.

Google’s example – or that of any other company with a Freemium model – is that our core products and services should appeal to those that want to use them. There shouldn’t be forced use.

If you’re in a sales environment today where you have to hard-sell, or use ways that can even be perceived as hard-selling, your chances of helping people and companies (and winning deals) is minimized right off the bat.

While these are decisions that are made at levels higher than us, we can still impact them.

While the link may not be evident to our industry yet, our usage and adoption of social and digital technologies acknowledges the death of interruption. And it’s not us that’s doing this, it’s our buyers.

If we, as sales professionals continue to use social and digital tools to interrupt, then the true value and nature of these tools won’t be captured. And I see signs of this everywhere.

The Bottom Line

It’s a scary thought – to have an entire way of operating turned upside down. But it’s happening. We are living in a critical time where technology has created an enormous amount of connection between people.

New companies are taking advantage of unique go-to-market models that add value at every stage of interaction.

What are your thoughts? Is the death of interruption happening as you see it?

Share your thoughts – connect with me on LinkedIn or tweet me @AmarSheth.


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