Hey, you know what’s the main thing missing in business relationships? Communication. Yes, that’s right! Honest, plain English (or any other language under the sun), open communication. It’s called a relationship for a reason and it really does go way beyond that legal piece of paper you both just signed. A lot of businesses don’t realise this and they believe that getting into a three or five year business “marriage” requires minimum effort past that victorious contract signing.
Relationships are complicated, they need care and attention, and they need communication. Interactions between buyers and suppliers should always be open and ongoing. That’s the way to avoid problems, conflicts, unplanned costs. You’re aiming for a partnership not a loveless marriage. Speak to each other, any problem shared is a problem halved.
Don’t talk AT each other, talk TO each other
As you’ve decided to work together, we can assume that you share a set of values. Or can we? A lot of B2B relationships are still being established based on dirt cheap rates, old school references that are no longer relevant and a complete lack of consideration for the people who will actually end up working with the product/service.
In order to align yourselves to each others’ values, you need to have dialogues. In real time and in the most efficient way possible. It’s pointless putting up a helpline number if there’s no one there to answer a key question you need a specific answer to right now. As a tech service for business, the research we’ve conducted in customer success for our vertical has revealed pretty dire results when it comes to “post-contract communication”. It typically amounts to either binders full of jargon laden information that end up gathering dust on a shelf or a lonely 0845 number that stops your day dead in its tracks whilst you listen to Sade’s “Smooth Operator”.
Knowing how to listen and actually take in what the other party is saying, is a skill that both sides need to practice. Feedback from customers is the rocket fuel suppliers need to improve and develop their offering into the best it can be. Feedback from suppliers helps buyers improve their invoice processing or payment practices and make them more efficient so they support their suppliers. As it’s all about the “win-win” situation, both sides should be listening to what the other is saying, across all departments and roles.
Being in a true partnerships requires honest, open communication. It’s the only way to do great, sustainable business.