In business to business (B2B) relationships, the stakes are often much higher than in business to consumer (B2C) situations. Typically, when your customer is a business, it is going to be spending a larger amount of money and representing a greater percentage of your overall revenue than if it was an individual consumer. Additionally, businesses operate and make decisions differently than individual consumers in many instances.
While most companies in a B2B setting have some kind of client representative as the primary interface with the customer, it can also be a good idea to have an executive or management level contact in place for a couple of reasons.
Escalation of Issues
Whether it’s a dispute about payment or deliverables, or a tricky problem that isn’t being resolved quickly or satisfactorily enough, there are times when it’s necessary for a front-line employee to escalate an issue to a more senior level of the organization.
Clarifying a process for doing this an ensuring that everyone knows the steps they should take—and the triggers for taking those steps—can help address issues quickly and appropriately.
Preserve Day-to-Day Rapport
Your customer reps shouldn’t, necessarily, be the ones arguing with their counterparts over certain issues. It’s important for them to maintain their friendly relationships. Being able to defer to the judgment of management on thorny issues avoids both kicking the can down the road and caving in to stay friendly and maintain the relationship.
Payment—or lack thereof—is one common example. Don’t make salespeople the frontline point of contact for attempting to collect from a slow paying customer. This is a role for accounting. Having their leadership, or a point person, step in to take on these issues, lets salespeople focus on maintaining the relationship.
Big Picture Perspective
Often in B2B situations, there are ongoing relationships, discussions, and potential opportunities that are above the pay grade of frontline customer contacts. Keeping an ongoing dialogue between more senior levels of the organization can help ensure a big picture perspective.
While all customers are valuable, B2B customers are typically in another level altogether. These customers can represent big business and big money, so the product or service provider needs to be careful how they are managed.
While an executive or manager doesn’t need to be engaged 24/7, or in every interaction or even in a majority of them, having an open line of communication can be a major asset for an organization to ensure continuity and a seamless transition during turnover, for instance.