The first step in creating business-to-business relationships is to determine what businesses would be complementary to your own. Usually these would be businesses that share a certain customer demographic that enable both of you to benefit from the relationship.
Once the businesses have been identified, it’s important to determine how you can help them – do you have other relationships that they would benefit from? Would your clients or customers be able to utilize their services? How can you make their life easier or increase their business level? When you first begin your dialogue with them, you must focus on the answers to those questions. Let them know the benefits to establishing a relationship with you.
Relationships take time to establish and they’re built on trust. It’s important to be upfront, honest and follow through on any promises or commitments made. You want to establish relationships with individuals or companies that have a similar philosophy to your own and that are dependable and trustworthy. They are looking to do the same, so the initial period of relationship building is mostly about finding out what type of person they are and determining if they are someone you would like to be aligned with.
Once the relationship has been established, there’s several ways that the businesses can work together.
- An exclusive arrangement of cross-referrals/leads.
- A non-exclusive arrangement of cross-referrals/leads.
- An integrated marketing campaign (TV, Radio, Newspaper)
- Combining networking efforts (trade shows, health fairs)
A bankable long-term B2B relationship needs exceptional communication. The parties should meet on a regular basis to share thoughts, adjust expectations, develop strategies, and make sure the relationship is continuing to benefit both parties.
As with any relationship, a B2B relationship takes work and will evolve over time. The end result, however, can be more rewarding, and more profitable, than traditional marketing or networking efforts. It creates a bond where each party is interested in the prosperity of the other and both are working in tandem to deliver high levels of satisfaction with every customer or client.