The Value of Building Strong B2B Relationships
We have all instinctively built strong relationships with friends, family and loved ones.
Indeed, over our lifetime there are probably many people whom we have engaged with on a personal or professional basis that we have intuitively liked and felt a connection with. Yet, we probably never really questioned how this occurs or considered how these relationships are strengthened over time, much less sought to measure the value that they bring to our lives.
It’s easy right? We do what comes naturally. We say things like ‘we have a lot in common’. In business, we often hear statements like ‘People do Business’. Indeed many of our long-lasting friendships have started from business connections.
However, in business relationships being liked is not enough. Authors of The Relationship Edge – The key to strategic influence and selling success (2004), in their model of the Relationship Pyramid, reflect that there are five positive relationship levels and that most business relationship are at the ‘Know-Me-By-Name / Like-Me / Friendly-With-Me levels which are all about likeability. And that it is at the top two levels – Respect-Me / Value-A-Relationship-With-Me that a relationship can really help you reach your sales targets.
So what is at the core of the human behaviour required to create this connection?
One of the biggest influences on how companies build strong relationships with business customers is the quality and motivations of the people they employ to acquire and develop those customer relationships. There must be an adequate level of competence and knowledge, high level of integrity and a consistency in actions in order to build enduring business relationships. The fundamental beliefs and values staff hold to be true at a personal and professional level are communicated in the action they take when engaging with customers. If sellers treat buyers with integrity and are consistent in their action, they will build trust and enable open honest lines of communication.This sentiment holds true for those whom sellers seek to do business with – if trust and respect is not reciprocal, you might question if there is any long term value in the sale at all.
What are your corporate values? Does your culture exude the aforementioned qualities? Do staff share these values and demonstrates them in daily interactions with all of those they do business with? What are the consequences if not?
Networking and Referrals
Networking has become the norm for Introductory selling, with a reported preferences of 92% from buyers over any other type of communication or advertisement. Referrals are also a widely used method of increasing trust at the early stages of relationship building, by leveraging the relationships you have with existing clients. However, a pre-requisite of building a valuable Network or Client base who can provide you with meaningful introductions or reference opportunities is for the company, and its employees to be proficient in developing and maintaining strong customer relationships.
If a high level of trust and respect is not established, through consistently delivering on expectation, the perceived risk of association or recommendation will be too great. The referring firm or introducer will likely not follow through. And if they do, they will not be in a position to influence your prospective client to trust you or adopt your product or service in a compelling way. Or even worse, they may paint you in an unfavourable light which can cause more reputational damage than anything you could have ever done or said yourself on your worst day!
In order to build strong B2B relationship, strive to create a corporate culture that upholds and rewards honesty, trustworthiness, consistency, competence and above all, encourages all staff and stakeholders to act with integrity and treat others with respect.
We would love to hear your views or experiences?
Author: Dayna Caceres