Sure, you want more business. You’re always looking for new ways to get your company in front of potential customers, and you use the best tools and tactics to support your marketing efforts. But there’s one simple strategy you may have overlooked: enhancing your Ariba Cloud profile.
All too often, sellers set up their Ariba profile quickly—perhaps eager to gain access to a sourcing event, or to start receiving leads through Ariba Discovery™—and then forget about it. Yet your profile is like an untouched key you may not realize you have. By using it effectively, you can unlock the door to greater buyer exposure and high-quality business opportunities.
Blue Marble: Profile Perfection Helps Build Business
No one knows the payoff of a well-constructed profile better than Blue Marble Media, a film, video, and motion graphics agency specializing in B2B communications. Within six months after joining Ariba Discovery, the company had scored 40 quality leads, built new relationships with nine buying organizations, and secured a 35,000 USD contract with a large bank—no mean feat for a small niche business with a limited marketing budget selling in a highly competitive environment.
Yet results didn’t arrive without effort, and profile optimization has been crucial to Blue Marble’s success. “You have to do your homework,” says vice president of business development Cal Miller. “It’s not one of these things where you’re just going to fill out a few information lines and then sit back and wait for the business to come; it doesn’t work that way.”
A personalized focus. So what’s the best approach? For Blue Marble, part of the answer lies in viewing your profile—and your online interactions with buyers—the same as a face-to-face meeting. “This is like a conversation opportunity, so when you’re filling out your information and you’re looking at that screen, imagine a person there,” Miller suggests. “This is your shot to tell your story; this is your shot to say you can trust me, I’m your guy, my company is going to pull this off for you. And you need to put it in words, you need to create the attachments and the references; you need to change it, you need to update it, you need to work it.”
Saving time while growing sales. Besides driving great top-line growth, Blue Marble’s efforts have garnered solid efficiency gains as well, saving the company 80 man-hours of research in the first six months. “This is an incredible tool to help develop new business,” Miller says. “It’s been a godsend to our small company.” You can hear more of Blue Marble’s story in this Slideshare recording from Ariba LIVE 2013.
How does my Ariba profile translate to more business?
If you joined Ariba primarily to participate in sourcing events, your Ariba Cloud profile is probably low on your radar. But you may have noticed that since signing up, you sometimes receive new business postings from Ariba. Why? Because when buyers in an active purchasing cycle search for new sellers, Ariba Discovery matches their needs to the information in your profile and sends relevant leads to you. (If you signed up through Ariba Discovery, of course, the same thing occurs.) Once you respond, buyers review your profile in detail to assess your qualifications.
But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to using Ariba Discovery postings, buyers can conduct their own searches of seller profiles and contact you directly if they like what they see. And studies consistently show that sellers with complete, well-developed profiles get tapped more often than those without.
So when it comes to your profile, remember:
- The opportunities are huge if you do it right. With 5B USD in potential new business posted in Ariba Discovery every year, the opportunities for lead capture and conversion are exceptional. What’s more, enhanced search capabilities in release 12s3 have increased direct buyer-to-seller contacts exponentially. But without a good profile, you won’t reap the benefits.
- Quality in = quality out. Your profile is the face of your business to buyers, so be sure it represents you in the best possible light. A polished profile creates a positive impression and makes it easier for buyers to see if you have what they want. On the flip side, information gaps and inaccuracies can damage your credibility and impair search results, causing you to receive the wrong leads and miss out on those most relevant to your company.
What should I do to get started?
The following guidelines can help you create a highly effective profile that maximizes your ability to attract prospects and win business. While each strategy offers value, prioritize the top-tier tasks first.
- Pay extra attention to your commodity, sales territory, and location. Because the search engine uses your commodity, sales territory, and geographic location to match your company with buyer needs, this information is critical to the quantity and quality of leads you receive.
- Commodity tips: Choose categories rather than exact products or services by name (e.g., “beverages” rather than “bottled water”). If what you sell can be classified in multiple ways, select all possible commodity categories it falls into, rather than just one or two. You can use the Search option to find commodities via keywords, or the Browse option to scroll through a list of commodity choices.
- Sales territory tips: In the Sales Territory section, indicate the countries, provinces/states, or metro areas that your business ships to or services.
- Location tips: Note that many buyers—especially those seeking services—require local sources of supply, so if your business has multiple locations, be sure to enter all of them under Additional Company Addresses. This tells prospective customers where you have an actual physical presence.
- List any certifications you have. A growing number of buyers want or have mandates to use diverse sellers, and they can specify this as a requirement in their search. If you have certification as a small disadvantaged or woman-, veteran-, or minority-owned business, or have undertaken green initiatives or earned ISO certification, you can gain a valuable competitive edge by listing this under the Certifications tab.
- Include your D-U-N-S® number and tax ID. If you don’t have a D-U-N-S number, consider getting one. Buyers consistently stress the need for sellers to supply this information, since it helps them assess your company’s financial health—a crucial criterion in the vetting process.
- Keep contact information current. Under the Contacts tab, provide up-to-date contact information to enable buyers to reach the right person when sending RFPs, RFIs, or other inquiries.
- Request references. Most of us use Yelp or Google to check customer reviews on products or services we want to purchase; B2B buyers are no different. In a recent survey, buyers who use Ariba Sourcing™ underscored the importance of references in their assessment of prospective sellers, so be sure to include these in your profile. You can invite any customer to give you a reference. To do so, click on the Leads tab from your profile page, then click References on the Getting Started toolbar.
- Use social tools to promote your profile. Sharing buttons, vanity URLs, “Find us on Ariba” profile badges, and similar tools can help you connect with buyers and build your brand. For tips on using them, check out “Attract More Buyers Faster with New Social Media Tools” on Ariba Exchange.
- Capitalize on premium features. Subscribing to Ariba Discovery as an Advantage or Advantage Plus seller gives you access to premium profile features that help you market your company more effectively—such as a detailed company description, website URL, business logo, attachments of case studies and datasheets, and other resources that boost your credibility to prospective customers.