Business-to-business (B2B) relationships can be very tricky things to get right.
When two businesses depend on one another, their expectations of the other company are high. Expectations are at their peak, the pressure is on, and the mutual dependency can be a breeding ground for ill feeling, blame, and arguments.
On the other hand, B2B relationships are also essential for both parties. In most B2B relationships, you have a supplier, and a buyer, which ensures both companies have their future interests locked together. For the supplier, they need the other business to keep buying their products or services. For the buyer, they need those products or services to allow them to continue to run their own business efficiently.
It’s therefore vital to find a way to ensure that B2B relationships are as positive as possible. To do that, you do need to know what you should do, but — arguably more importantly — you also need to know what you shouldn’t do.
Avoid… verbal agreements
Verbal agreements can be a real killer for B2B relationships. Verbal agreements are poor for accountability; there’s no agreement both parties can refer to in order to ascertain the actual facts of the deal.
Whenever you make an agreement within a B2B context, write it down. Even if it’s for something small; you need documentary evidence of the facts, so both parties always know where they stand.
Avoid… showing favoritism
If you deal with more than one business — as is likely — then it’s vital that you maintain all B2B with absolute equality. If your other B2B connections suspect another company is receiving preferential treatment, such as lower prices or better deals, then they will soon conclude they don’t wish to continue doing business with you.
Unfortunately, it’s worth remembering that you may inadvertently appear to show favoritism if other retailers you sell to break your MAP (minimum advertised price). This is not technically your fault, but it’s within your remit to control; learn more about MAP monitoring to prevent this problem from arising. Keeping a close eye on all of your B2B dealings to ensure issues like this are ironed out is vital; other businesses will want to feel they are being dealt just like everyone else, and no favoritism is at play.
Avoid… losing trust
Trust is by far the most important aspect in B2B relationships, and is something that both businesses should prioritize.
The biggest destroyer of trust in B2B relationships is broken promises. If you say your company is going to do something by a particular date or time, then you have to do everything in your power to ensure that that deadline is met. If you anticipate a delay, then contact the other business immediately, so they have advance warning and can default to their backup plan. Admitting there’s a problem isn’t easy, but it’s far better than leaving the conversation to the last minute.
If you can avoid the three problems above, there’s no reason why your B2B relationships should suffer any issues. This, in turn, means that both businesses can benefit and achieve success— together.