Tips for Developing B2B Relationships That Go Beyond Sales

My role as a director of sales gives me a unique view into each of our customer accounts. With so many different types of accounts, my work is never boring! What matters to me most, though, isn’t how many stores someone has or how many products are on their website. Maybe it’s the years I spent in retail at Nike, learning to “never judge a book by its cover” through repeated experiences on the sales floor. I don’t look at people just in terms of numbers. Instead, I think about “developing value” with my customers. But how do you do that, and what does value really mean?

To start with, ask yourself: “How well do I know my customer? Could I answer simple questions about them on a semi-personal level?” Knowing your customer helps you anticipate their needs and offer a fulfilling dynamic on more than a business level. Take the time to call your business partners to say hello or happy birthday, or just to let them know you were thinking of them. Find reasons to reach out outside of sales. It sounds trivial but these types of interactions help build a strong base for your relationship. We all have a personal life outside the industry — though I know it’s easy to forget that when things get hectic! — and knowing where someone is at in their business or personal life shows a deeper level of empathy and compassion than a simple sales call.

Anticipating customer needs on a personal level helps build the knowledge to anticipate their needs on a business level. Understanding a customer’s business from a broader perspective, rather than just being focused on your own niche, helps you understand where you can come in and support that business in an authentic way. You have the chance to truly be a sales rep, rather than defaulting to an order taker. Sometimes when we get busy, dedicating precious time to ensure we are analyzing customer needs can be tough. It takes energy and discipline to be a good account manager; anticipating and laser-focusing on needs makes you a great account manager.

There is a reason I keep mentioning authenticity. Check in with yourself and ask how authentic your relationship is with your key contacts. There is always an opportunity to demonstrate your solidarity in the partnership: phone calls to say hello without a sales pitch, thank you cards for simple acts of kindness, visits when possible. It doesn’t have to cost money. Budget should never play a part in being authentic with customers.

Remember that staying in touch isn’t just about the phone anymore. Social media plays an ever more important role in building and strengthening relationships. It sounds challenging, but try to set aside 30 minutes each day to interact with your customers on social media. Engagement outside of traditional contact methods can help you express interest in their business activities or personal achievements and solidify connections.

B2B relationships can bring so much value to the table in the form of brand loyalty among end customers. Being vocal about your brand, via online platforms or just in daily conversation, brings a different level of attention. So does investing in your brand presence outside of traditional sales, such as by utilizing free marketing tools, attending events big or small, using video conferencing platforms like Zoom to connect “in person” as much as possible and making sure your brand is well represented everywhere. Again, that commitment to continually building a better business will improve your bottom line.

Most importantly, stop looking at customers or partners solely in terms of monetary value. Remove the money variable and put everyone on an even playing field when it comes to both your attention and your resources. If you only invest in the same people and same accounts repeatedly, and fail to give other customers opportunities, you will never know what those accounts might be capable of.

At the end of the day, we all know that sales is a big part of what makes our world go round. I hope that this article has shed light on growing and developing sales and relationships in a new way, by finding ways to be more authentic in your relationships, sharing your time to engage with customers and simply treating others as you would like to be treated.

Value isn’t just about money, and we are so fortunate to see this demonstrated in our industry. Take the time to find value and grow your relationships. Your bottom line will continue to grow as long as you take the time to tend it.

Tips for Developing B2B Relationships That Go Beyond Sales by Danielle Seerley originally appeared in XBIZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.