Building and maintaining solid relationships between firms is nothing new. As long as humans have walked the earth, bartering, and trading, we’ve been learning how to build relationships with each other. Yet we get stuck in ruts and simply need a little inspiration for fostering relationships with our customers.
It's also easy to become complacent and unintentionally assume, "if we build it, they will come." Truth is, if we build it and they come, we need to earn their trust and repeat business. So, what we present here is some basic food for thought. Use this as a check-in for how well you're serving your customers and clients.
General B2B Relationship Building Strategies
While the type of tactics you can leverage will depend on what kind of business you have, the following strategies can help you develop strong relationships with B2B partners.
Offer exclusivity: Consider providing exclusive benefits or access to your B2B partners. How you offer this varies based on the type of services you offer, but it might include offering early access to products, features, and services or special discounts. By offering exclusivity, you demonstrate your commitment to the partnership and create a sense of privilege for your partners. The potential downside of this, of course, is that you become vulnerable to relying too much on a single partner.
Consider co-creation: Collaborate with your B2B partners to create new products, services, or solutions. Involving them in the process fosters a sense of ownership and strengthens the bond between your companies. This tactic works better for some industries than it may for others, but it can be a satisfying, mutually beneficial way to grow your network.
Resources and knowledge sharing: Look for opportunities to share valuable resources, industry insights, or expertise with your B2B partners. This can include hosting joint webinars, conducting workshops, or exchanging whitepapers. By sharing knowledge, you establish yourself as a valuable and trusted resource. You can also create referral networks using this strategy.
Engage in joint thought leadership: Collaborate with your B2B partners on thought leadership initiatives, such as co-authoring industry articles or organizing industry panel discussions. By sharing your expertise, you position yourselves as industry leaders and generate valuable exposure for both companies.
Conduct regular relationship assessments: Take the time to assess the health and satisfaction of your B2B relationships from both sides. Conduct surveys or hold feedback sessions to gather insights and identify areas for improvement. Talk about concerns and issues to maintain a strong and healthy partnership. See our related post on using net promoter scores to build customer relationships.
Engage in corporate social responsibility together: Identify shared social or environmental causes that align with your company values and collaborate with your B2B partners to support those causes where they overlap. This can take many forms, such as participating in charity events together, volunteer initiatives, or sustainability projects. Working together towards a common cause creates a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose.
Offer cross-company mentorship opportunities: Look for ways to encourage mentorship programs between employees of both companies. This is a unique way to share knowledge, encourage professional development, and foster relationship-building between your companies.
B2B Relationship Building Strategies by Industry
Relationship building is not a one-size-fits-all situation, so it’s important to consider industry-specific tactics as you work on your overall strategy.
CRE service providers doing business with property owners
If you are a business that provides services such as security, cleaning, or maintenance to a commercial building, here are four basic building blocks for your B2B relationship:
Understand their needs: Don’t assume that one property manager has the same needs and frustrations that your other clients or customers have. Take the time to thoroughly understand the property owner's or manager's needs and goals. Look for simple ways to tailor your offerings to provide solutions that meet their requirements.
Deliver exceptional customer service: Provide prompt and reliable service, quickly address concerns or issues, and exceed their expectations. This level of effort demonstrates your commitment to their success and the value you place on your relationship.
Establish open lines of communication: Foster transparent communication channels to ensure a smooth and efficient business relationship. Schedule regular (monthly? bi-monthly?) check-in calls with the property owner or manager to address questions and concerns. Ask them what’s ahead for them in the next quarter, so that you can prepare your team.
Offer value-added services: Look for opportunities to provide additional value beyond your core products or services. This could include educational resources, industry insights, or exclusive discounts to incentivize loyalty. Train your front-line employees to look for up-sell opportunities, and reward them with finders’ fees.
Developers doing business with commercial leasing agents
Provide timely and accurate information: Keep leasing agents updated on the progress of your developments and available leasing opportunities. Offer detailed information, such as floor plans, pricing, and amenities, to help them effectively market the properties. Keep them updated on building milestones so they can coordinate marketing efforts with those dates.
Incentivize leasing agents: Offer commission structures or bonuses to leasing agents who successfully secure tenants for your properties, especially during the final building phase and even more importantly in a highly competitive market. This motivates them to prioritize your developments and helps maintain a robust, collaborative working relationship.
Collaborate on marketing efforts: Work closely with leasing agents to develop targeted marketing campaigns that showcase your properties' unique features and benefits. Be sure to provide them with all the marketing materials and support they need in order to maximize their efforts.
Foster a sense of partnership: Treat leasing agents as valued partners rather than mere intermediaries. One way to do this is to involve them in decision-making processes, seek their input, and acknowledge their contributions to the success of your projects.
Architects doing business with builders and developers
Collaborate on project planning: Involve builders and developers in the early stages of project planning to benefit from their expertise and input. Encourage open dialogue and shared decision-making to further build trust and mutual understanding.
Deliver high-quality designs with options: Consistently produce innovative and well-designed architectural plans that meet the needs of builders and developers and offer alternatives so your developers become part of the design process. Strive for excellence in your work and address concerns or modifications promptly.
Provide ongoing support during construction: Offer on-site support and guidance during the construction phase of projects. By making yourself available to address design-related questions or challenges, you help to ensure the successful execution of your plans while demonstrating your commitment to the overall success of the project.
Foster a strong professional network: Attend industry events and engage in networking opportunities to expand your connections within the construction and development community. Building a strong network enhances your visibility and reputation, leading to new business opportunities.
Security companies with property owners and management companies
Understand their security concerns and vulnerabilities: Conduct a thorough assessment of the property's security requirements to understand unique challenges, including crime rates in the area. Discuss specific security concerns they have and tailor your services to their needs, avoiding “blind spots.”
Provide ongoing training and support: Offer comprehensive training programs for property staff to ensure they can use your security systems. Don’t assume your technology is plug-and-play; offer high levels of support in the early stages of adoption and taper off to as-needed support as they become familiar with your security system.
Regularly assess and update security measures: Avoid complacency by conducting periodic reviews of the property's security systems and make recommendations for enhancements or updates. Share what you’ve learned from years in the business and other similar customers to take a preventive approach to security (rather than reactive).
Foster open communication: Maintain regular communication and make it easy to provide feedback. Consider having a quarterly survey to provide a simple path for partners to let you know how things are going from their point of view.
Start Building Supplier-Buyer Relationships
It goes without saying that before you can foster a B2B relationship, you’ve got to find them. That’s why we started Biscred, a cloud-based platform that helps CRE-related businesses find each other. Over more than a decade, we have acquired enormous datasets and configured them in a way that allows you to find prospects to grow your business, whether you are a small, family-owned HVAC company, a regional property management firm, a national architect and design firm, or a global supplier of building materials.
To begin building B2B relationships, try Biscred’s purpose-built CRE database designed to connect CRE companies with each other. This type of prospecting database offers precise and detailed information on companies that align with your goals, helping you establish a strong B2B network more efficiently.