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B2B or P2P?

In a corporate world, buying and selling between businesses can appear to be purely transactional, but is it really that simple?

David Peña, International trade specialist in retail and licensing from LCCI’s Trusted Advisers International Trade Matters, looks at the power of those personal business relationships that begin, develop, and grow commercial success in both domestic and overseas markets, transcending barriers through the very social nature that makes humans human.

The concept of Business to Business (B2B) refers to a situation where one business makes a commercial transaction with another business, as opposed to Business to Customer (B2C) which refers to the sale of goods or services from a business to an individual for their personal use.

Because an individual consumer buying items for the consumer’s own personal use is not involved, we normally dehumanise the transaction as if businesses could operate as a kind of living entity without human interaction. (Note for posterity: AI might prove me wrong in the next few years).

Look after the people…

What’s easy to overlook is that, even in a B2B scenario, there are people: individuals operating the strings of the business, a buyer from a sourcing department on one side and a sales representative on the other side of the table, computer, teams call or counter. A B2B sale is still very much an operation between two individuals where personal interaction, empathy and understanding play an important role. And yes, strategies, techniques and rules of engagement are different when operating in a B2B battleground, but the very basic from a transactional point of view is the same: two persons trading.

Communication and culture are key

The greatest channel of trading is language, either verbal or written language depending on the communication channel between the parties, and this is where the ability to adapt language and culture plays an important role, especially in international trade. Putting your customers or suppliers at ease because you can speak their language and know their culture will certainly help you win the trade. When your counterparts can explain themselves without fear to be misunderstood and when they can behave in a natural way, they are more prone to agree, more eager to keep talking, and to do business with you. In a world where B2B is the epitome of cold trade, pure transactional commerce, my bet for the future is to go back to basics, look after the persons in the businesses you operate with, drop the Bs, put up the Ps and keep trading P2P.

Click here to see the original article. If you wish to get in touch with David or any of the LCCI Trusted Advisers, please contact LCCI and we will facilitate an introduction.