When trust is the centerpiece of the B2B relationship, both buyer and seller can reap the benefits.
Last month, I posted an IdeaXchange blog discussing how to get your customer to view you as a partner rather than as simply another vendor. This was based on the presentation given by Jeff Hiller, director of Training at JB Training, during our NationaLease Sales meeting. Establishing credibility and creating trust requires you to become both knowledgeable about your customer’s business and to become a problem-solver whenever possible.
I pointed out that it is a lot easier to let a vendor go than it is a partner; however, too often, when a supplier has spent years servicing a client, that supplier can get complacent and take for granted that the next contract is assured. That would be a major error. being the trusted, go-to supplier will make buyers reluctant to look elsewhere, not just for existing business but potentially for additional business.
I listed four things that suppliers should do to create that strong relationship:
- Treat every customer request as though you are competing for the business.
- Act as if you have limited time to complete the request. The earlier the order is fulfilled, the happier the customer will be.
- Look at your customer’s money as if it’s your own and make sure you provide value for the money.
- Make sure you fulfill your promises. On a longer-term job, keep the customer apprised of your progress.
It’s not just the customer that will benefit from these actions.
- You may not always be the cheapest resource. However, if the customer knows that they will get superior service in the agreed-upon time, and they are convinced that you will stand behind every job you do – as as long as the price you charge is fair – you should retain the business. As a result, you will see the necessary profit for your work and/or your products. A good customer will not necessarily try to cut you to the bone when it comes to price.
- Businesses talk to one another. If your relationship with your customer is a partnership of trust, that customer may recommend your company to other organizations, thus increasing your business. If personal relationships with customers are strong, you may be able to ask for testimonials or referrals.
- New technology and digitization are enabling companies to connect with one another in their financial transactions from start to finish, while providing visibility into invoice and payment status. Customers that adopt this type of technology can pay invoices sooner, which can help suppliers better manage their cash flow.
Today, the world is more connected than ever and, in some cases, has never been farther apart. We see stories of how connecting through devices (email, texts, Instagram, etc.) is making people feel isolated. So make sure you develop human-to-human relationships with your customers. If you can’t visit them, talk to them. Make the extra effort to show that this relationship is important. It will pay off in the end.