I was in a meeting with several specialists from the marketing team at Microsoft last week. We were getting ready for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference and talking about planning for the coming year. With over 13,000 partners in the channel in Canada, Microsoft wants the best tools and resources available for partners to reach their intended audience.

So of course, the talk was about Social Media, blogging, twitter feeds, linked-in groups – all the awareness and communication vehicles we are leveraging today to reach people; however, the most interesting fact that emerged was that while these tools drive awareness, they were not the reason people were buying. In survey after survey, buyers are influenced by:

  • Number 1 – purchased technology because a business colleague or competitor recommended or was using the technology;
  • Number 2 – purchased technology because of a relationship with a Microsoft Partner;
  • Number 3 – purchased technology because of a Microsoft Account Manager or Solution Specialist.

People are still buying from people. Don’t get me wrong – online is important. But it is still simply another way to connect and build relationships; because when it comes to making business decisions about technology purchases, people are still trusting their personal connections. People buy from people. The bottom line? Have an online strategy. Learn how to engage in a personal way on Twitter and LinkedIn. But don’t forget to stay in front of your customers. Have coffee with them. Play golf. Keep building that personal relationship. It will serve your business well.