B2B, or business-to-business connections can be highly profitable if managed fairly. For instance, you may wish to expand your company’s products yet require custom items that are outside your tooling range or skillset. With the right B2B relationship with an artisan you find online, you can increase your offerings and boost their business. Here are some ways to foster positive B2B partnerships.
1 Get Creative
An effective B2B relationship allows both parties to try something new and different. For example, you may want to start engraving some of the items you offer in your shop. With a relationship with the right CNC precision machining manufacturer, you can:
- work with an operator while creating your design
- set up short runs of the product when the machine is not in use
- get the product you need and help another business stay busy in their slow time
If you create custom metal cases for presentations of specialty items, a CNC partner can help you create specialty engravings on the case. If you create handmade toys for seasonal sales, you can find a CNC shop that creates perfectly balanced tops that you can decorate. The precision of a Computer Numerical Control tool could create many unique items for your business.
2 Strive to Build Win-Win Projects
Loyalty is critically important when putting together a healthy B2B relationship. If you have a connection that offers you flexibility when you need it, offers their design and problem-solving expertise, or can offer you credit when you need it, make sure you reciprocate.
For example, if you have an artisan who creates custom raw goods that feed into your business and you have a sizable order coming up, consider offering to pay half upfront if they need a bit of ready cash to:
- stock up on raw good
- invest in tools
- bring in contract or part-time labor
Like a lot of flexible relationships that benefit both parties, be prepared to ask if you need a break. For example, if you are providing goods and services to another business and have strong reciprocity with them, consider offering them a discount if they can pay early or offer an extra month of financing if they need it and you can swing it.
3 Ask for References
Building a client base while selling one item at a time can be very slow. If you have the ability to build strong relationships that allow you to ship multiple units of any item that you would normally sell singly, you have the power of mass production at hand. Additionally, you can count on these sales to help you consume more raw materials and sell more products.
Once you have a healthy B2B relationship started, be ready to ask for references. If your specialty marketing items are getting the name of your real estate client out into the world, your real estate partner may have a friend who runs a bakery. This is a connection that you can use to the benefit of all involved.
4 Be Up Front
A custom marketer helping a realtor make a lot of money may also be approached by the realtor's competitor. Before you take the gig, be honest. Let your current client know about the contact and make sure they know that you are able and willing to keep things separate. Any client who tries to limit your ability to grow your business is not a great client. However, it's not good politics to blindside people. Say something.
If you find that a B2B relationship is simply not bringing in the cash you expected, or if your client gets into payment trouble, you may need to back away from the work. Be ready to have a tough conversation. You didn't go into business to volunteer. If you can help someone else out, do so. If it becomes onerous, be ready to back away.
B2B partnerships are a lot like single clients. Trust is a requirement for loyalty. Honesty greases the wheels even when the road gets bumpy. Your work may be great, but if your business practices are not reliable, other business people will not stick around.