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Not All Buying Decisions Start with a Web Search

It's a given that the Internet has transformed marketing. A multitude of studies confirm that most buying decisions start with a Web search. But while that may be true, here's a real-world example that tells a different story.  

When Connie Silverman, controller for Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo., started looking for an IT service provider, she didn't start on the Internet. The iconic Kauffman Center was under construction and Silverman was responsible for building the technology infrastructure to support operations at opening.

Silverman needed a partner she could completely trust to support the Center during the demanding months before grand opening. "We were growing from a staff of four employees to about 50," Silverman said "We needed someone who could scale with us."

It's Who You Know
To find the right vendor, Silverman worked with a board of directors evaluation committee to create a request for proposal (RFP) and review solution providers. The RFP was sent only to firms referred through the connections of the board. An Internet search was not part of the process.

As Silverman notes, "Most of our board members, as well as our donor base, are all high influencers in the Kansas City business community. They are in the Chamber or other associations in town, so the network is pretty wide."

The referral process was extremely important to the decision because it provided an initial endorsement to help filter potential vendors. Based on RFP responses, three vendors were selected for interviews with the evaluation committee.

It's Partnership
Carl Hentsch, strategic business consultant with Kansas City-based NetStandard, stood apart from the other vendors by delivering a message of partnership. During the NetStandard interview, Hentsch focused on how the two organizations could work together to meet the changing needs of the Kauffman Center.

The evaluation committee's decision was clear based on the interview. From file sharing to e-mail to Dynamics GP, Hentsch and NetStandard worked with Silverman to guide the IT decisions to support the Kauffman Center's growth. Balancing cost with the functionality that the Center needs, Silverman has complete confidence in the recommendations that Hentsch makes. The grand opening of the Kauffman Center last September, while very hectic in the last weeks, was completely supported by outsourced IT through a team approach.

Lessons Learned
One, networking builds relationships in your community that will deliver unexpected opportunities.

Two, most customers are looking for a partner, not a service provider.

Three, not all opportunities come through the Web.

How are you building your network? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on March 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM