Growing a business, particularly a B2B business (one that serves other companies), comes with many challenges, from selecting the right marketing tools to ensuring support services are available to keep customers happy. But what about finding the right customers?
Business owners loathe turning away interested clients, but there are instances where it might be necessary. Certain clients can bring more harm than good into business relationships, and decision-makers need to prepare for the possibility that some clients might not be the right fit for the company. Sometimes, saying no is the better option.
B2B businesses face these hazards more often than traditional B2C business, since their products or services are usually contracted and sustained over a longer period. Building and maintaining a strong, amicable relationship with clients is vital for these companies, whose livelihood is dependent upon clients being reliable and consistent in their responses. If the client doesn’t respect that relationship, the consequences could be dire, particularly for smaller B2B companies.
Below are some important factors every business should consider before taking on long-term clients. Both B2B and B2C businesses can apply these concepts to build an ideal client-relationship profile in order to prevent taking on customers whose needs, style, or preferences simply don’t match what the company can offer.
Shared Goals – Long-term relationships with clients cannot survive a difference in goals or expectations. Both the business and clients need a clear understanding of what the relationship consists of and how they intend it to grow. These common goals and a commitment to communicate about any adjustments can keep a B2B business and client relationship strong over time, allowing both companies to prosper.
Mutual Respect – Every company has deadlines, year-end goals, and profit margins to consider. When two companies are working together, they need to have respect for both sides of the equation. If goods or services are going to be delayed, immediate communication and compromise is necessary. If payment is not forthcoming, the client needs to resolve the issue quickly and ensure that it is not a repeated occurrence. Respecting each other’s policies and adhering to the contracted agreement should be the baseline for any good business relationship. If a client has a bad track record or seems resistant to certain deadlines or contractual obligations, decision-makers may want to take a bit more time or institute a probationary period before taking on a risky client long-term. The hassle may not be worth the sale.
Culture – A final consideration for taking on clients is their style or culture. Every business environment has a certain speed, a particular vibe, and a unique frequency to how they operate. The elements that make up a business culture are sometimes subtle and barely definable, but they are very present and very real. B2B and B2C companies, alike, should pay particular attention to the personalities and “vibe,” for lack of a better word, of their clients before signing on the dotted line. Irreconcilable differences can happen just as often between businesses as individuals, and it’s best to avoid a messy break-up by being conscious of this important factor before settling into a long-term agreement. Some businesses just don’t mix well.
Basically, business owners and decision-makers just need to take the time to ask themselves, “Is this client really a good fit?” If the thought of working with the company or individual over the long-term seems like it might be more stress or trouble than it’s worth, there’s no shame in declining the deal and seeking out more compatible client relationships. You have to do what’s best for your business, and sometimes that means saying “no” to the wrong kind of client.