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The Dating Game: Finding the Right Customer for You

online dating

There are 54 million single people in just the U.S., 40 million of whom have tried online dating. Chances are, you or someone you know has done online dating at sites like Match.com, eHarmony, or Plenty of Fish.

The appeal is apparent—online dating matches you with prospective partners who are looking for the same things you are. This eliminates a lot of back-and-forth and speeds up the getting-to-know-you process.

B2B matchmaking

Using business or social networks to grow your business is a lot like using an online dating site to meet new people. These networks aggregate large pools of prospective buyers and sellers, and use a database-driven approach to matchmaking.

Specifically, much like online dating, your profile standardizes the way people are matched by capturing a range of characteristics they are looking for in a date, from physical appearance to diet and exercise habits. Business and social networks use company capabilities, firmographics, or physical location to facilitate business matchmaking. (Firmographics are like demographics, only for businesses.)

I am pretty sure that business networks have a better success rate than online dating, though. While an estimated 20% of current committed relationships began online, a recent survey shows a full 72%1 of business buyers have used social media to find new business relationships.

How business networks help your company grow

Based on this concept of database-driven matching, business or social networks have three main benefits for companies looking to grow their business:

  1. They aggregate large pools of similar companies and provide a structured format for them to classify themselves. This includes standardized ways to indicate preferences for new business relationships.
  2. They make it easier to match suppliers’ capabilities with buyers’ requirements. Beyond the usual product or service specifications, buyers can specify decision time frame or special company characteristics. By standardizing the way participants provide and share the information that articulates suppliers’ capabilities and a customer’s buying needs, the business matchmaking cycle is accelerated dramatically.
  3. They give companies a convenient, fast way to “get to know each other” when real decision-makers are ready to act. Business and social networks provide a direct, electronic connection between companies, giving sellers access to buyers while they are in the buying process.

Once you’re active in a business or social network…then the real fun begins.

Next post: My next article will talk about demand signals, and how to know when a customer is ready to buy.

 


1Source: DemandGen Report, “The 2012 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey: New Challenges, New Complexity” sponsored by Act-On Software, Oct 22, 2012

About the author
Rob Mihalko
Rob Mihalko

Rob oversees Ariba’s overall seller marketing initiatives as well as the Ariba Discovery service. Before joining Ariba, Rob held a variety of marketing, business development, and finance roles at Microsoft, Disney, and Intel. He was also a manag... Read More >>>

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