'It's not what you know but who you know' is the commonly recognised phrase that describes referral networking. Business people with lots of contacts or more importantly, those who recommend your products because they have used them successfully themselves.
You might initially think that this is the one area where computers cannot compete with their human equivalent, however, you would be completely wrong. This is a fast developing sector that is commonly known as 'viral marketing'. It is an area where software can really bring significant long-term benefits for very little cost.
Let's take the powerful training simulations we developed above and give them away for free on the Internet. We can do this because electronic information costs virtually nothing to give away but provides a valuable resource to those who need it. People who benefit from this free training will recommend, or give your program to their colleagues. In fact, the most effective way to increase your website's search engine ranking is to be considered a worthwhile site e.g. one which other sites link to because you provide something of value. Giving away training is probably the best way to get other sites to provide links, which will therefore automatically lead to more visitors and an ever-growing cycle of referrals.
Remember that our basic web person was a 'push' technology that needed others to advertise before people would visit. Now we have a 'pull' technology that automatically feeds people back to check that they have the latest, most up to date FREE training.
We can also think of this another way. The traditional salesperson's mantra is 'attention - interest - desire - action' the point being that the first and most important part of any sale is getting the customer's attention. This is something website's do not do (apart from via search engine referrals) and it must be assumed that you already have the visitor attention by the time they get to your website. This means that to generate new sales leads you really need software that moves away from the website completely and preferably get installed onto your customer's computers.
One of the best examples of how effective free training software can be is demonstrated by a hydraulic training program developed for Sun Hydraulics (UK) Ltd. The original software only cost about the same as a single training rig but is now being used by colleges and universities around the world, as well as being freely available from the front page of the British Fluid Power Association's website. This means that their products are virtually being recommended by the most authoritative body in the UK along with probably hundreds or thousands of engineering teachers throughout the world; for free.
The number of leads per pound can now be roughly measured and should compare exceptional well with traditional magazine advertising or exhibitions. Thinking back to our original salesperson we can see that they would never be able to able to communicate with so many people at the same time and at such little cost. You may now be thinking that eCommunication can't get much better than that, or can it.