Over the past decade, the buying cycle for business-to-business (B2B) deals has slowly shifted to what it is today. Gone are the days of cold calling and sellers owning all the power by controlling the entire sales cycle. Now, buyers have all the facts that they need to make a decision at their fingertips before they’ve even chatted with a sales rep or seen a demo of the product.

One of the major causes for this shift is the explosion of information available. You can easily find details on any product, how it has been used, and how happy customers/non-customers are with their past experience. Rating and review sites like G2Crowd and Capterra have become increasingly popular as buyers continue to educate themselves on which company and product is best for them.

In fact, a recent eMarketer study surveying business-to-business decision-makers found that 95% of them labeled Peers and Colleagues as their most trusted source for information. Making sure that your current and past customers are happy has never been more important as they have a tremendous amount of influence over future purchasing decisions by prospects you don’t even know exist yet. This is why it is always important to not only make your customers as happy as possible, but to give them the tools they need to evangelize your brand for you. Anticipate customers sharing experience on online review sites, giving presentations about their experience with your company, or simply taking the time to hop on the phone with some of your prospects as a referral customer – and arm them accordingly.

The other thing to remember from that eMarketer study is the importance of leveraging all those connections that are around you. Every organization has the potential to be a goldmine for leads by leveraging the relationships of various colleagues. This tactic is what has led LinkedIn to a market cap of $24 billion. When leveraging relationships though, the big thing to remember is that not all of them live within LinkedIn – and they’re not all created equal. In fact, in an old blog post of ours titled Leveraging Relationships – It’s More Than LinkedIn, we analyzed the data within our Introhive database and found that only 42% of business relationships actually reside in LinkedIn with the rest being found in mail and mobile devices.