Managing B2B Vendor Relationships

Some of the most important partnerships for any business are its vendor relationships. Business-to-business (B2B) vendor partnerships allow the purchasing business to shexecuting your strategic plan, strategic planning, strategic communicationore up its deficiencies by outsourcing certain business functions to organizations with greater expertise. This avoids the time and effort required to develop the necessary infrastructure, staff and expertise internally.

The obvious downsides of using vendors include out-of-pocket costs and potential lack of control over vendor operations. This lack of transparency and control can and frequently does result in conflict in those crucial B2B relationships.

At Strategic Communications, we both provide and receive services from other businesses—most located across the country, and some around the globe. We value these relationships and we learn a lot from each one. We know, though, that things do not always flow smoothly. Business contacts may change. Miscommunications and misunderstandings may occur. Or, sometimes, it’s simply time to move on.

Dun & Bradstreet offers some tips for managing your vendor relationships that are applicable to any B2B partnership.

Hope for the Best. Plan for the Worst

Just as with relationships within an organization, B2B relationships often result in conflict at some point. There’s no point in hoping it won’t happen. Be proactive, and have a plan in place for conflict resolution. This should include a pre-defined escalation chain that can even be incorporated into your contract.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

It’s hard to know what someone else is thinking, and even harder with a business that may be located across the country or around the world. Maintaining regular, productive communication is essential to avoiding, mitigating and resolving conflicts.

Have a Go-to Person

Both sides of your B2B relationship should have a designated contact person, not just to address conflicts, but for ordinary, everyday communication. This should be someone who is personable, reliable and inspires trust and confidence. So many conflicts can be avoided entirely by simply having a quality point of contact for your partner to interact with.

A solid B2B partnership can be fantastically successful; however, conflicts can arise when doing business with an organization outside of your immediate control. By following some of the strategies above, you can help quickly and amicably resolve any conflicts that may arise with your vendors.

What best practices have you adopted to manage critical B2B relationships both as a service provider, and a service recipient?


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