“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford

If you want to form a long-lasting, successful B2B relationship, collaboration is key. It takes a two-way street to see a partnership reach its potential. When that potential is reached it’s the ideal, mutually beneficial relationship all parties strive for. Unless you’re looking for a transaction with little to no chance of repeat business, you have to factor in your partner’s needs.

In the often static to adversarial nature of B2B sales, you might be thinking that a true partnership might be out of reach. I disagree. The old B2B push-down model is giving way to the modern approach centered on sharing and collaborating. If you don’t accept the change, you may soon see your static relationship become less stable. The new approach isn’t always easy, but it benefits each company.

Do you find your relationships lagging when it comes to B2B collaboration? Would you like to get more out of your partnerships? If you said ‘yes’, then it’s time to make a change.

Banish the ‘Customer/Supplier’ Mentality

People believe that a customer’s needs naturally conflict with a supplier’s. In many cases, that can be true. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If both companies come to the table understanding that they have to give a little to get a little, they can both come away with a lot. Think of your best relationships. How do they operate? You are attentive to one another. You have concern for their well-being. You want to see them succeed. Why?

Because when they succeed, you succeed.

To truly collaborate it’s best to look beyond the standard customer/supplier roles. You always have to respect the roles of each partner in the agreement. However, looking beyond designated roles allows for the opportunity to find creative solutions for more significant gains. If you don’t believe this is feasible, remember that the supplier and customer are both there to help one another. It’s all about improving business for all. Sure, you can try to get the highest sale figure or lowest price, but you’re likely to never have a relationship. This can soon limit your options. The quality partner market can be smaller than you think.

That’s why it’s best to focus on creating a mutually beneficial relationship. With a focus on partnership rather than designated roles, each side has the potential to come away with a win for the long-term.

Putting in the Work

This all sounds well and good, but how do you put it into application? It’s now time to put in the work. That work includes action and thought by all. When it comes to thought, always have the other business in mind. Understand their needs. Try to stay as proactive as possible. It may not always be the natural stance in business, but keeping another company in mind pays off.

Dive into the needs of each party with quarterly meetings to discuss business and creative solutions. In these meetings, you have the opportunity to educate one another on your business. Forge relationships with associates from various levels of both businesses, so a deeper understanding is developed at all levels. This adds additional sources of creative solutions to the business relationship.

Shed some light on how you operate, what you need and other pertinent information. Opening this channel should prompt the other company to come through as well. You now have a more mutually transparent understanding.

Even if this falls short of creating an ideal B2B relationship, both sides now understand the other business more. Knowledge is power. This power can solidify a prosperous relationship for all involved.