We've asked a bunch of business owners WHY they buy and the results speak for themselves. Our sample size wasn't big enough to be scientific, so we went on the lookout for some secondary research and after hearing Scott Stratten speak, we had a clear picture.
As he tells it, there is a triangle of trust, relationship and competition.
It looks something like this:
In short, business owners of service industry organizations buy because they have an ongoing relationship with the supplier (in other words they are a customer). This is second to not having a customer/supplier relationship but being referred by someone else (whom preferably does).
Third on the food chain are people that have a relationship, but it's not a buying one.
If there is no relationship, then having credibility and being recognized as an expert in a related field is right up there, and ahead of the purchaser actually searching you out.
At the bottom of the barrel is the old favorite - cold calling.
Now, to be fair, most cold calling systems in place are designed to drive you up the pyramid. They're not looking for the sale instantly. That said, it is clear that the best way to get new clients is to look at the top of the pyramid if you want to decrease your sales time and increase your conversion rates.
And what is the best marketing tool that can be used, outside of direct customer relations? Public relations of course. PR is great as it promotes the company / individual (positioning credibility and expertise) and builds the relationship (the supplier is informing the buyer of their news etc) so there can be a referral.