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Your Service Should Go Way Beyond Sales. 4 Ways to Build Long-lasting Relationships With Distributors and Retailers Remember the people involved. They are the foundation and bedrock of your company's success.

By Adam Kroener Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • When your products can double as commodities, the partners bringing them to market (e.g., distributors and retailers) are as pivotal to your success as your customers.
  • Try these suggestions to build thriving business relationships, cultivate loyalty and foster success.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Business partnerships can make or break your company's success. Strong business partnerships lead to enhanced efficiency, innovation and staff retention, driving long-term success.

I've witnessed my brand become among the top ten in RTD spirit sales across the US despite only selling in eleven states. Much of our 'unprecedented' success isn't unprecedented at all. It stems from a hardline focus on investing in building meaningful business relationships. We launched in 2019 and flourished even when most restaurants and bars couldn't stock our products. While many other factors saw us through those uncertain times, our thriving business relationships proved vital.

While no one can predict the future, it is important to build pillars to help your company remain stable and scale during uncertain times. To build robust foundational success for your startup, small business, or freelance endeavors, read the four tips below on building long-lasting business relationships.

Related: Why These 5 Characteristics of Self-Reliance Will Guarantee Your Success

Tip 1. "Expect Ingratitude." — Dale Carnegie.

My first tip could seem counterintuitive to the untrained eye. Yet, my years of trial and error have opened my eyes to the truth about the famed Dale Carnegie quote, "Expect ingratitude." This first tip is the foundation for my remaining suggestions, and it's a notion all professionals and entrepreneurs must appreciate and grasp. Expecting ingratitude isn't as pessimistic as it may appear. It's pragmatic and realistic, preventing disappointment because you won't over-inflate your expectations.

Managing expectations goes hand in hand with business success. In doing so, there won't be any blame game when things go wrong, as they inevitably do. There will only be a streamlined focus on solving the problem, taking full ownership of our actions, and driving the business forward. Instead of facing a string of disappointments, insightfully managed expectations strike a balance between unbridled ambition and remaining grounded, keeping your trajectory upward. Stay grounded but aim high, ensuring a win for everyone involved when outcomes exceed expectations.

Related: Successful Businesses Have This One Thing in Common

Tip #2: Take accountability

If something is not working, take ownership of the result. For example, while many across the sector complain distributors and retailers don't do enough for sales, at my company, Carbliss, we take a different approach.

Our philosophy is the reality: Distributors provide logistical services to transport products from 'A' to 'B,' while retailers offer the platform to sell. It's not our partners' job to move the products off the shelves; it's ours. When products don't sell, we don't point fingers at our partners. Rather, we look inward and ask how we can improve. We take ownership and accountability for product sales.

Removing these burdens from our partners' shoulders has enabled us to cultivate a symbiotic relationship with them. We support them by letting them do what they do and expecting nothing more, and they support us by doing their job and then some. It's collaboration at its purest and most productive. Stay accountable to increase your collaboration.

Tip #3: Offer substance instead of empty gestures.

Strong business partnerships don't require glamorous dinner parties or appreciation galas. Perhaps it can mean elbow grease, facetime and handshakes. Be involved beyond emails and phone calls. Insert yourself into the action to prove you're a partner willing to roll up your sleeves and get involved, not just "another brand."

Your business partners care far less about being wine and dined. Like our distributors and retailers, they'll respond best when you make them feel supported, valued, and part of something bigger.

Tip #4: Be honest and transparent

How can your business prove its commitment to your partners' success? It starts with honesty and transparency about your offerings and expectations. Setting expectations immediately and sticking to them builds trust and respect. These efforts often yield pleasantly surprising positive outcomes. Even when outcomes don't get met, keep your business partners involved and stay honest, and this will pay off in the long run. These efforts go far in building lasting relationships.

Related: Stop Lying and Start Being Radically Honest With Your Team

When your products can double as commodities, the partners bringing them to market (e.g., distributors and retailers) are as pivotal to your success as your customers. Thus, your partners require a brand experience similar to what you offer customers. Try these suggestions to build thriving business relationships, cultivate loyalty and foster success.

Adam Kroener

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Carbliss, Startup Advisor, Philanthropist

Adam Kroener is an award-winning 8-figure CEO, co-founder of SNFood & Beverage, LLC (Carbliss Brands), which has sold over 2,000,000 cases since its founding in 2019. Adam is a Startup Advisor, Certified Dale Carnegie Leadership Instructor, sought-after speaker, and Veteran of the US Army.

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