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Is it possible to systematically develop trust to a mutual competitive advantage in B2B?

When companies and suppliers are reliant on each other for mutual benefit, is it possible to systematically develop trust to a mutual competitive advantage in B2B?

This is the question I have been wrestling with since I enrolled on a Doctoral research programme at the University of Southampton four years ago. From years of working in customer experience – witnessing the disastrous effects of trust breaking down first hand, while also experiencing the many benefits of mutually trusting relationships – I became curious to know if it was possible to identify the dynamics involved in developing trust, to unpick them and develop a systematic way to embed it in organisations.

My focus ever since has been to understand how trust operates in B2B relationships.

Over the last four years, I have researched B2B at senior leadership level, teams/operations, interpersonal/staff, across sectors as diverse as: Retail, FMCG, Pharma, Financial services and Outsourced Service Providers.

And, the answer to the question is YES. It is possible to understand the subtle dynamics at play, and, from this point, establish both the emotional and rational elements to proactively drive trust across all types of Business to Business relationships.

Most organisations don’t need academic research to convince them that mutual trust creates a strong competitive advantage, but few understand the scope or commitment required.

Trust is dynamic.

Where it works most effectively in B2B, a whole organisation approach is involved, starting from the leadership team signalling intentions to the relationship and demonstrating the opportunity, following through to making it a reality at operations and interpersonal level.

e.g:

  • working together to develop mutual value
  • parking egos
  • politics and transactional attitudes…

Over the next series of blogs, I will be sharing ways to develop trust as a competitive advantage through the application of the Trust DNA™ model, starting with working out your current level of trust and prove it is possible to systematically develop trust to a mutual competitive advantage in B2B.