The customer-supplier relationship is changing fast in B2B. Customers today are better informed than they were a decade, or even just a few years ago. Owing to increasingly sophisticated procurement teams and purchasing consultants armed with troves of data, companies can readily define solutions for themselves, without the help of suppliers.
Suppliers are increasingly judged primarily on price, but trusted business partners are seen as providing value by helping their customers achieve their most important business outcomes. So how do your people in the field differentiate themselves and your company? Here are 4 ways B2B suppliers can add value to customer relationships and distinguish themselves as a trusted business partner.
1. Understand how you can impact the customer’s business outcomes
Understanding how you can improve your customer’s business outcomes through your own products and services is fundamental to building trust with your customers. Consistently helping customers to improve their business will enable you to solidify your “trusted business partner” status.
2. Become totally customer focused
Simply satisfying customers and meeting their basic requirements is no longer enough. Becoming totally customer focused requires a shift in thinking and acting on the part of all employees, especially those who “touch” suppliers on a regular basis. These people understand and anticipate customer’s unmet needs and take action to address them before the customer asks.
3. Use your industry knowledge
Use your knowledge of the customers’ industry to provide value through new information and insights about industry trends. Help customer’s understand how these new insights and information can be applied to address their specific challenges.
4. Analyze the customer’s data
Suppliers routinely collect enormous amounts of data about their customers, including how the customer’s customers behave, how effectively processes perform and where opportunities exist to improve both. Trusted Business Partners pro-actively analyze this data and show their customers how to use it to improve their business and achieve critical outcomes.
These are just a few of the approaches that B2B industry leaders are applying to transform themselves from good supplier to trusted business partner in the eyes of their customers.
To learn additional skills and tools needed to lead your own transformation, join us for our TSW Service Transformations session “Hot Trends and Innovations in Field Services", or visit us at booth 46B at the conference which will run October 20-22 in Las Vegas.
About the Author
Paul Hesselschwerdt is president of Global Partners. Paul has been a senior executive in consulting and industry for more than 20 years. He has worked with companies in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Together with the Global Partners team, he has designed and implemented programs in sales and marketing, Total Customer Focus, leadership, management development, and project management across a range of industries, including health care, pharmaceuticals, biotech, consumer electronics, and high-technology. Paul’s career began in finance and accounting, and half of his professional life has been as a finance director and CFO for industrial, life sciences, and global media companies.
Paul’s clients have included ASML, GE Healthcare, Merck, ST Microelectronics, AREVA, Alstom Power, Schneider Electric, Sherwin Williams, and CRANE Corp.
Paul is a graduate of Boston University (BSBA) and Babson College (MBA), and has unique expertise in applying his knowledge of business and finance with his understanding of adult learning. This enables him to create and deliver programs that are business-focused and achieve sustainable results.
Contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.