The Bonds of Business: B2B Relationships
In the modern business landscape, companies must seek out every possible advantage to stay competitive. One of the clearest paths to advantage is the establishment and cultivation of strong business relationships. Partnering with other companies is an excellent way to further your reach in the marketplace. As with any relationship there will be ups and downs, growth will take time, and trust will be the key to success.
When thinking of business relationships and partnering with other firms, there are three questions that have to be answered:
- The Who – Who represents a partnership that could help our bottom line? The first of these questions is often the easiest to answer. You more than likely have already identified the companies that you envision being a good fit (Web Design Firms, Traditional Marketing Agencies). The expertise or contacts they bring to the table could be just the competitive advantage your agency needs, or the perfect way to open up potential new markets for your products and services.
- The What – What is it we could do with them that we cannot do alone? The second question, ‘the what’, is simply recognizing that through trust, transparency, and shared risk with a partner it is possible to reach goals that you once believed unattainable. What can you do together to gain a competitive advantage? What type of partnership offers the greatest return on investment? These questions are specific to your company, and your experience in the field, along with some research, will have introduced you to the companies that fit this particular profile.
- They Why – Why is this worth our time and effort? The why can be the most difficult of the three questions to answer. There are going to be risks and there will be a significant investment of time and effort to forge a lasting relationship. So why should you take the plunge? Well, this is the time to remind yourself that leverage is everything in business, and leveraging the unique skills of a second organization to meet the needs of your customers is a risk well worth taking.
The elements found in all successful partnerships center around trust and transparency. In order for this to function as smoothly as possible, the trust must be present at the very top, and management must be willing to take the long view when setting goals. Openness in every phase of the relationship will help build a stronger working partnership, and facilitate the free exchange of information and ideas. It is imperative that both parties be ready and willing to take chances to achieve success, and always put down the objectives and expectations of your relationship in writing (SOW). This will help you stay focused on your objectives without any confusion regarding your goals.
True partnerships in business are difficult to form. They take a tremendous amount of planning and effort to develop, and the work is always ongoing; the risk never ends. But, the possibilities for cost-cutting and growth are far greater than going it alone. After all, they say, “two heads are better than one”, and that is especially true in business.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you formed any B2B relationships that have helped your agency grow? Have you taken on any B2B’s that you wish you hadn’t? I am curious on what others are doing to grow their business network? Any success stories you want to share or even horror stories would help others avoid the unknown.
Tips for working with other businesses: Finish what you start, stay consistent & be punctual.
I'm Spencer Wade - strategist, designer, manager of people and ideas. Platinum Top Contributor for Google Search, G+ & AdWords - TC Mentor too. I’m the founder of Lift Conversions, a Google Partner agency, located in Chicago. I’ve completed Google’s tests - Search, Display, Video, Analytics, & Mobile, and enjoy being a part of the forums. My agency is also an Official City Partner in the Get Your Business Online effort with Instant Verifier access to help immediately verify business listings.
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