Flex Your Network To Find New Business
The recommendation of using your network to grow your business isn’t novel, but you probably have a bigger network than you realize. Not only do your biggest fans act as brand ambassadors and help you spread the word about your services, but you can get their help to make introductions and explore new avenues of growth.
Let’s say that your goal is to expand your B2B customer base, but today you primarily serve retail customers. How can they help? Simple: Ask them.
Ask them about their suppliers and other service providers. In this example of a coffee shop, we can see several items that would fit your B2B criteria. Ask them who provides their fixtures, who handles their uniforms, who supplies their baked goods, etc. These are all B2B suppliers!
Will my customer be comfortable sharing that information with me?
Yes! Businesses pride themselves on finding the best suppliers for the best products to deliver to their customers. They are not shy about telling you how their signature cookies are made by XYZ Bakery or their amazing florals are maintained by ABC Plant Maintenance. You can ask for their point of contact or reach out to the supplier on your own. You can use your relationship with the coffee shop as an icebreaker and cut through the noise of the sales calls that the supplier receives every day.
What are some examples of B2B suppliers to retail businesses?
This is not an exhaustive list, but here are 10 to get you started. if you generally think about B2B services as sticking close to the definition of “a business that serves other businesses” you should be able to get a good idea of who is in your target demographic.
- Packaging (cups, boxes, bags, etc.)
- Uniforms (these are commonly bundled with linen cleaning services)
- Ingredients (these may be separate by type, for example, restaurants commonly have separate suppliers for fruit vs meats vs beverages vs alcohol)
- Equipment (don’t forget equipment maintenance/repair!)
- Utensils (cups, plates, forks, etc.)
- Baked goods (or other pre-made goods, such as specialty desserts or ice cream)
- HVAC (temperature control is required for certain types of businesses and is critical to a consistent customer experience, so every business has a “go to” HVAC company)
- Pest control (although food service has requirements for proper pest control, nearly every business utilizes these services)
- IT/Tech Support (unless a business is of sufficient size or complexity, it is unlikely that they have a full-time, in-house IT support team. Many businesses outsource to local providers who serve many other businesses to keep their systems running.)
- Plumbing (similar to HVAC, many businesses have requirements related to plumbing and will have a company that they rely on to keep their business up to code)