I have met guys who have told a joke at a party and I knew it was “like” at first sight. Others bond over a football game or the fact that their wives spend endless hours trying on clothes at the department store. Whatever the circumstance, guys know pretty quickly if they can hang out with one another.

I remember the first time I met the people who ultimately would become my best friends. I was at a party with a coworker listening to a couple guys do a little take on Monty Python. As my friend was doing his impression, he dropped his beer by mistake. He never never missed a beat and kept doing the voice. I doubled over laughing, knowing these guys would be cool to hang with.

We grow up with a set of values, our own sense of humor, and personal likes and dislikes. Subsequently, we don’t spend our lives looking to bond with people who hold completely different ideals. Contrary to the idea that opposites attract, we typically find people who reinforce who we are and what’s important to us.

Whether we’re involved in B2C or B2B marketing, the idea that we’re attracted to those who make us feel better about ourselves applies. In other words, we want people who not only think like us, but also provide the confidence to be ourselves. When we hang with friends, we’re able to cut loose and relax. And that’s how we buy.

Research company Sirius Decisions recently tracked the journey of today’s buyer. What they found was that 67 percent of buying is done online, as the typical executive tries to find partners who may align with their values.

So when we put this in the context of the activities of a traditional B2B salesperson, the average buyer will ignore phone calls, e-mails and other personal approaches. They simply do not respond to these tactics when building a potential database of suppliers. When they are ready to start thinking about a purchasing decision, they need to find you amid their research.

The challenge we constantly talk about is developing real relationships in the modern landscape. But maybe that’s the wrong place to start. Maybe the question we need to ask ourselves first is more about who we are and with whom we want to assimilate.

We sometimes get lost in the tactics of how to spread the word about our business. The old sales models trapped us for decades with the idea that if we increase commissions and tell people what they want to believe they’ll buy. But it turns out that getting people to buy now is far less important than helping them believe in your product and service for a lifetime. The greatest brands on earth don’t just look for consumers of their products, they create a bond that makes all the difference.

The publishing process is a wonderful way to discover more about people. But it may also be a great way to find out more about yourself and determine who is compatible. At the end of the day, people still do business with people they trust and like. And just like my buddy who made me laugh, we must find people we mesh with. The publishing process makes that happen.

I had a friend tell me that “the mess of figuring things out is being replaced by technology.” But the magic actually lies in figuring out the mess. When we delve into discovery and what makes people tick, true understanding emerges and deeper relationships are developed.

Mark Potter

Mark Potter

CEO, Conduit, Inc.

Mark Potter is the CEO of Conduit Inc, a content marketing organization, which produces a variety of publications and community building programs including CANVAS Magazine. In addition, Mark is the author of the book, Egrets, Hockey Sticks, & Roller Skates and sits on the Electronic Document Scholarship Board.