Selling to businesses poses unique challenges as opposed to selling to consumers. A sour consumer relationship can make a small dent in your profits, but a sour client relationship can be a much more systemic threat to your business. Compound with that the fact that B2B relationships require a more detailed process – complete with a contract, terms of payment and offering, a timeline and pay-by date – and it can seem like quite the undertaking.
Your business, therefore, has a major obligation to prioritize and protect these relationships. From acquiring the client, to setting up terms, all the way through to collecting your money, you need to strike a deft balance between being forthright and clear, yet enticing and accommodating.
This post will look at a few key areas of B2B relationships, and recommend a few products and services, like Zoho Books for accounts receivable software or Summitcollects.com for a collection agency, which that can help your business navigate complicated processes along the way.
In the client acquisition process, branding is key. Your business has to know itself intimately, to understand its value prop and what differentiates it from similar businesses. This not only functions as a way of enticing clients, but it helps establish a baseline of transparency; your branding should be and honest, albeit enticing, account of what you can offer the client.
Throughout the process of setting up a transaction, whether for good or services, you have to clearly communicate everything. Again, this serves the dual purpose of seeming trustworthy to the client – an important component of retaining their business in the future – but also securing your receivables. If you set vague terms initially, miscommunicating your (or their) expectations, there is a greater likelihood of payment troubles down the line. To streamline accounting tasks, consider either Zoho Books, reviewed here, or Sage Business Cloud, another popular option.
Transparency goes part and parcel with communication, but it refers more to keeping the client updated and abreast of their order. This lets them know that you continue to focus on their account, and are making efforts toward fulfilling their requests. This, unfortunately, must also be the case if something goes wrong. In B2B relations, it is not better to ask forgiveness than to ask for permission. Be upfront about any hitches you experience along the way, and the client will be more likely to trust you in the future.
Should there be a failure to pay on the client’s part (or should you suspect a failure to pay), you want to call a collection agency ASAP. The problem here is that most commercial collection agencies apply a blunt, strong-arm tactic that can easily fray your client relationship. Choose an agency, therefore, with a track record for diplomacy, like the aforementioned Summit A*R. With a friendly debt collector in your corner, one that understands the value of the client relationship, you can get paid and still retain the client.
From client acquisition, all the way through to the collection process, these are the fundamental steps to preserving healthy B2B relationships. Client retention is crucial to maintaining, and growing, your business, so pay close attention to these important relationships.