Question business-to-business (B2B) companies on what they do, and most would tell you that they provide products and services to other companies, and that doing this at the lowest possible price is key to success. This is true. Quality service and products at a reasonable price is a basic component of B2B companies.* However, this strategy cannot be pursued long-term if sustainable growth is desired.
The success of organizations hinges largely on nurturing strong client relationships. This is especially true for B2B companies where a single customer is often worth a million dollars. Building strong bonds with customers ensures that the company is able to transition from being a vendor to a trusted advisor.
To be able to provide customers with the right kind of advice and service B2B companies must have a fair amount of knowledge and expertise on customers’ businesses, their specific needs and the industries in which they operate. This will help them stay on the same wave-length and provide meaningful solutions. The more value a business offers customers, the stronger the relationship customers have with that business. Stronger relationships translate into better customer engagement and greater loyalty – resulting in an upward shift in sales and profitability.
A partner that makes a company more successful is hard to beat – and even harder to replace. Deeper on-going relationships are more profitable, and not just in revenue. Engaged customers often offer more feedback, endorse the brand to their networks, and in some cases, emerge as leaders of the brands’ online community
However, having said that, it is also important to acknowledge that, no amount of personal connection can substitute for quality of work delivered. The service provided for clients is paramount in building a relationship. Happy clients are more likely to make referrals. Provide all clients with the best service, regardless of whether they are a Fortune 500 company or a small business.
Nurturing strong relations become easier if they are founded on the four key elements of customer engagement: Confidence, Integrity, Pride, and Passion. When a client emails you, acknowledge the receipt of the email as quickly as possible, even if it is just to acknowledge their mail. This conveys a sense of confidence tha t their request has been registered and will be taken care of and helps keep customers engaged in a proactive manner.
Today, the balance of power has shifted towards customers, as new technology has changed the way customers communicate and relate to brands and to each other. Customers today not only have access to more information and greater choice but are also able to voice their dissatisfaction more loudly. In this environment, managing and nurturing stronger relationships are critical. Ultimately, the success or failure of B2B companies will depend largely on their ability to forge one-on-one relationships with their customers.
*sources for B2B Sales success: https://yourstory.com/2016/07/b2b-startups-corporate-relationships/
cartoon source: http://www.francartoons.co.uk/wp/training-cartoons/customer-care/
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