By Ben Weiner, CEO For Conjungo

Finding a new supplier for the technology products or solutions you are looking to buy can be a daunting prospect.

How would you, for example, identify three or four localised providers of VoIP (assuming you what it means...) solutions with experience of implementing solutions for medium-sized retail organisations that are based in the county of Berkshire, England, where your office is located? Would you even know where to begin?

Maybe you go through the relevant industry magazines, ask friends, family and colleagues, or try a variety of internet search engines that churn up millions of web pages that are not relevant. It’s a time consuming process. You have to read through pages and pages of information to find out who and where your local suppliers are, whether they have relevant industry experience and if they can provide support to your type or size of organisation.

And you don’t want to find just one potential supplier. You know that you get the best deal by engaging with several suppliers, comparing products, people, and support capabilities. A good buying decision is based on a thorough evaluation of not only a supplier’s technology and capabilities but also on the human interaction; people buy from people.

But as much as you wouldn’t use a jumbo jet to travel to your local shopping centre, why use Google to find a local reseller down the road from where you are located?

How do I find the right information?

To start off with, you need to find supplier information that is informative, correct, unbiased and objective in order to ‘tick the criteria boxes’ before arranging to meet face-to-face and go into a more in depth assessment.

Sourcing this type of accurate information is a critical step in the buying process, for both you as a buyer and the supplier. Gaining wrong information will only serve to prolong the process and can waste time on both sides. The accessibility of accurate information about suppliers and their solutions is therefore vital to a speedy buying process.

Your first reaction is probably the same as more than 90% of technology buyers, start with keying in the product or technology name of what you want to buy in Google i.e. VoIP and click search. What happens? Do you agree with what some other users* say about their experiences?

Professionals rely on web search at work, but results are inconsistent and mediocre.

- 95 percent of professionals find internet search engines an aid for conducting work, yet only 40 percent say they are very satisfied with the results.

- Only 21 percent feel that their search query is always understood.

- Less than 25 percent of professionals are very confident that when using popular internet search engines they’ve looked everywhere to find answers.

- Just 1 in 10 professionals always find exactly what they are looking for on the first attempt.

- About 70 percent admit getting sidetracked during the search process and end up on sites they didn’t expect to visit and are not relevant to their work.

- More than 60 percent disclosed they do not ask for help when lost, while 80 percent said they have never been trained to use the advanced search feature.

Businesses pay employees to hunt for information that can’t be found and make decisions without all the facts.

- Surprisingly, when searches do not return precise information, more than half of professionals believe the information they’re seeking exists, but they do not have the skills to find it.

- One third of professionals will make decisions without all the facts they need after a series of search attempts fails to help them.

*source: Convera research December 2006

The alternative

Don’t worry. There is an alternative. Instead of spending time trying to tackle Google and get to the information you need, there are a range of vertical search engines out there that delivers targeted and relevant information.

A good vertical search engine or directory can provide you with exactly the details you need. Search for the products or technology you want, filter the ones that are located where you want them to be, the ones that have the industry experience you need and who have solid background implementing solutions for your size of businesses. By using a vertical search engine you can generate a list of suitable suppliers within seconds rather than hours.

You are probably already using vertical sites for your personal shopping or research, Opodo.co.uk or Lastminute.com for travel, Monster or Totaljobs for jobs, or moneysupermarket.com for comparing financial products. So, why not use a vertical search engine next time you need to source business technology?


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