The relationships your business cultivates with customers are necessary for sustaining long-term growth, but the partnerships and agreements you make with local B2B companies can also work in your favor.
Even if your business isn't focused on the B2B market (maybe you're a B2C company), forming alliances with other, local B2B companies helps grow your reputation and increase the number of customers you reach.
Future Simple shares:
"The right partnerships with the right businesses aren’t one-time events, but living relationships that grow and develop over time. And time is an important consideration. Building B2B partnerships requires a lot of it, along with clear objectives, foresight, and an honest approach. But, when done right, B2B partnerships are worth the effort and can be a win-win for everyone involved."
Step One: Figure Out What Your Business Needs
The value of a B2B partnership comes from the sharing of resources or the providing of a service from one business to another. You might have an area within your business structure where you don't really have a significant amount of resources. You may have employees tasked with multiple responsibilities that could benefit from a narrowing of their daily required tasks.
For example, imagine you provide a service related to vehicle maintenance to your customers, and you've been relying on one of your techs to complete the bookkeeping duties associated with your services. You might partner with a local bookkeeper where you'll receive discounted services in exchange for placing some free advertising in your shop for the bookkeeper.
Or perhaps you're an up and coming juice distributor, but you don't have knowledge on how to expand. It would make sense to partner with a liquid packaging and filling company to determine how to create the machines that would best serve your business.
Consider: If you own a business with a few employees, consider taking a survey about their responsibilities. Do you feel some of those responsibilities might be better handled by a local B2B company? Conversely, do you provide a service that might be of value to local businesses? Partnerships with other companies could offer excellent opportunities for growth.
In addition to requiring services from other companies, your B2B partnerships may also offer a chance to reach a larger audience, particularly if your B2B partner is a large entity that serves a significant geographical area.
Step Two: Head to Google & Complete a Local Search
Not only are local business listings with Google an essential part of helping your future customers find you, but those local listings are also a gold mine for finding businesses with whom partnerships make sense for growth, sales, and future opportunities. You can perform a search based on the industry of your future B2B partner and begin researching the details of your potential alliances.
Questions to ask include:
- Is the business established in the area?
- Does the business have a solid reputation?
- What are the potential benefits of an alliance?
- Is the company profitable and efficiently run?
- Does the business have a similar mission or goal?
Answering these questions will help you eliminate the businesses that might not offer the best match to your own business. You may want to rank a few businesses in the order in which they might provide the best strategic partnership.
Step Three: Reach Out to Your Future Partner
The best way to ask a business owner if he or she would be interested in a partnership is with a straightforward and simple inquiry about the potential alliance. If you're interested in a partnership where you trade services with another company, a simple lunch meeting, phone call, or email inquiry to start can help get the ball rolling.
If you're unsure about the identity of the decision-maker at the company, you may wish to make a call before reaching out officially to identify the person with whom you might need to speak about forming a partnership. The company should also have a firm online presence and website, which should include an "about us" page on the company's site.
Remember: Simply reaching out to another business about a strategic alliance or partnership doesn't mean you need to get a contract ready.
Business News Daily shares:
"… you can't just make a deal with the first vendor you come across. After all, this company will play a role in your operations, and you have to be sure you can entrust it with an asset as valuable as your business."
If you decide to meet with a potential partner, an in-person meeting is the best way to get an idea of the suitability of the business for a partnership.
Step Four: Form Agreements & Write Contracts
Don't be fooled by the friendly nature of an agreement with a local business. It's essential to create a valid and accurate contract with any business partner. A small business that's just a few streets away needs a contract just as much as an established company with stores in a dozen states.
You may wish to have your contract inspected by a lawyer or someone with legal experience in writing or defending contracts. However, any written contract is legally enforceable, and they don't need to run for pages and pages.
(*Note that even verbal contracts are enforceable under civil law, but there's no reason to rely on a verbal contract when you're a business owner when a written contract provides more protection.)
General Tips for Forming Local B2B Partnerships
Here are a few ideas to consider as you form your local B2B partnerships.
Choose Local Businesses First to Form Strong Partnerships
It shouldn't be difficult to meet with a local B2B since the concept of "local" should mean a business that's within driving distance. While you may also consider partnerships with companies that aren't local, the first place you should look is in your community.
"…local partnerships differ in some ways from those with multinational corporations, but they tend to start with the same basic premise: finding a common ground for collaboration. This may be easier with a local company deeply aware of the context and whose success is closely tied to the community…"
Return the Favor When Partnering with Local B2Bs
Your business partnership should result in valuable benefits for both sides of the agreement. A partnership won't last if the benefits are one-sided. You may need to devote resources or manpower to accomplish goals that benefit your partner in the short term but lead to a strong partnership in the long term.
Realize that Partnerships Grow, Change, & End
You might have high hopes for the success and fruitfulness of your partnership, but it's important to realize that the partnership should evolve and grow to accommodate the changing environment for your industry. Perhaps your agreement begins with certain financial terms, but you need to revisit it in the second year of the alliance. You may wish to put terms regarding the re-negotiation in your contract, so no one is surprised when a request is made to make changes.
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