It’s April 2022, my distributor’s representative has changed again. This is the fourth time in four years.

One of my main suppliers has been a business partner for the last twenty years. He is retiring and will let his son take over the business. I don’t know him and that worries me.

I don’t want to talk to insurance or big car auction representatives, they live in their ivory towers and never come down to see how things are really done in the field.

These are three classic situations that happen to recyclers and, believe it or not, to all other organizations too. The actors may change, but the scenario is the same.

The old business ways are changing and evolving, as are people. It seems to be happening faster as time goes by. It’s crazy. It is painful and annoying, but fortunately there are solutions. They will require effort, but they have the potential to transform your business relationships. You will become your business relationships’ initiator rather than their victim.

I am aware that the old ways always feel better, but they must yield positive results for your business continuity. Some will believe that money drives business. This may sometimes be true for digital businesses such as Amazon and Netflix, but for business-to-business enterprises, relationships are a resource that leads to success.

Here are two tips to help with your business relationships.

Tip #1: The Handover

At Progi, we lost our founding president after 15 years of operation. He knew all the insurers, recyclers, and influencers in our network by their first name. Sadly, he passed away suddenly. We obviously had no time to do a good transition with our partners. However, we were lucky enough to quickly find a replacement who was as well connected as our former president. If this were to happen again today, I am not sure that fortune would smile on us so fast and that our business relations would not greatly suffer. This short story leads to my first point.

  • Don’t wait until you are retired or in another job to transfer your contacts. Your business relationships must survive your departure as an owner or executive. Take time to introduce your colleagues to your contacts and to get your team to know them. This will make your team more responsive if you are unable to pursue the business relationship.
  • Prioritize your handover when you know that you or a partner are about to leave. Be sure to quickly build connections and relationships with new contacts before it’s too late. It’s important to introduce people and for you to be introduced to avoid the cold call feeling when resuming relationships. Create a sense of trust as soon as possible.

Tip #2: Keep an Open Mind

Take an interest in your business ecosystem even if you think they won’t understand your reality, you can try to understand theirs. You can make healthier business decisions when you take the time to understand the strategies and priorities of your business partners, suppliers and even your competitors. If everyone puts in the effort, we get a collectively clever market.

In conclusion, the key word for success is adaptability. We must be proactive with our business relationships. Be eager to learn more about others and create opportunities to discover them.

Author: Alexandre Rocheleau
Translation: Sophie Larocque
Editing: Émilie Blanchette