Business Bridge Supplier Toolkit

How To Build Relationships with Decision-Makers

Researched and written for Business Bridge by Strategic Insights Inc. | Thursday, March 14, 2024

Building strong relationships with corporate decision-makers is crucial for business development, partnerships and overall success. However, connecting with busy C-suite executives and business unit managers can be challenging. This guide explores proven strategies to build authentic, mutually beneficial relationships with corporate decision-makers.

Why relationships with decision-makers matter

In an economy driven by relationships rather than transactions, neglecting relationship-building with decision-makers can severely limit success. Here are some reasons why:

  • Partnership opportunities: Relationships lead to collaboration. Strong connections with decision-makers can be instrumental in partnerships, sales, integration deals and other strategic initiatives.

  • Competitive advantage: In some industries, the relationship is the differentiator, especially when vendors appear similar on paper.

  • Innovation: Enterprise-level partnerships require companies to align with bigger companies to meet a shared vision.

  • Increased revenue: Relationships impact revenue. The stronger the relationship, the more likely a deal will close in the future.

10 Strategies to connect with decision-makers

As you start to brainstorm how to connect with these decision-makers, consider these proven techniques:

1. Identify the right contact

Failing to identify the actual decision-makers in an organization is a big relationship-building mistake many entrepreneurs make. Find out the titles, roles, responsibilities and team dynamics of the people who influence decisions within an organization. Common decision-makers include:

  • Procurement team

  • Corporate Procurement and supplier outreach staff

  • Technical experts like the head of New Technologies, Engineering, Research, Quality control and R&D, who generally have a good idea of additional areas of supplier expertise needed to support the corporation’s upcoming lineup of products and services

  • Project managers within corporate business units, such as Marketing, IT, HR, Facilities or a project team

  • Business unit heads

  • Managers who manage prime suppliers and can introduce your company to some of the prime suppliers who in turn could hire your company’s services


Once you correctly map out the decision-makers within an organization, you can focus your relationship-building efforts on the right people.

2. Understand buyer motivations and priorities

Decision-makers are primarily motivated by:

  • Solving business problems: Products and services are often secondary to solutions.

  • Achieving business objectives: They are driven by metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for their department and company.

  • Advancing their career: They want exposure, credibility and opportunities for advancement.

3. Provide value

Some ways to lead with value during your initial conversations with decision-makers include:

  • Sharing a relevant perspective: Provide thoughtful analysis of current trends related to their company or industry.

  • Providing concrete recommendations: Offer specific ideas to help them solve problems and achieve goals rather than vague offers of help.

  • Introducing data-driven insights: Provide benchmarks, forecasts, customer insights or other data that offer visibility beyond what they see day-to-day.

4. Meet them where they are

Instead of asking executives for time for a meeting, meet them where they already are:

  • Industry conferences: Use industry events and conferences to connect in person.

  • Associations and clubs: Networking makes introductions easier.

  • Online communities: Interact on the same blogs, forums, social media channels and LinkedIn groups that decision-makers actively participate in to establish common ground.

For example, Minneapolis–Saint Paul suppliers in the crowded IT service and staffing field report that they have built relationships that resulted in new business with corporate clients by serving on the boards of local industry groups, such as the Minnesota Technology Association.

5. Leverage existing relationships

You might already have relationships with people who know decision-makers and can make appropriate introductions, including:

  • Colleagues

  • Board members

  • Investors

  • Customers

  • Partners

  • Former managers

  • Mentors

  • Fellow alumni of a school or other experience

6. Use social selling to get on their radar

Social selling means leveraging digital channels to find ways to engage your target accounts. Even the busiest executives generally have some degree of activity on popular social platforms. Participating in social conversations establishes familiarity without being overly promotional.

7. Create valuable content they consume

Create valuable educational content based on the topics decision-makers for your industry care about, such as:

  • Articles and blog posts

  • Video content

  • Presentations

  • Research reports

  • Infographics

  • Podcasts

8. Be prepared and follow up

When you attend professional events, come prepared with:

  • Core elevator pitch

  • 2–3 open-ended questions related to trends in their vertical

  • Business cards

  • A system for capturing notes and action items

Then make sure to follow up after your initial interactions. Events can kickstart the relationship. Ongoing nurturing advances it.

9. Maintain persistent but unobtrusive contact

Patience and persistence are critical when selling to corporate decision-makers. The goal is to add value regularly without becoming a pest. Some decision-makers prefer highly proactive follow-up, while others only want to be contacted when necessary.

Some ideas to nurture relationships post-event or meeting are:

  • Send relevant content related to what was covered initially.

  • Check in to recap important takeaways.

  • Reconnect around milestones or new data from their industry.

  • Invite them to an upcoming event that would provide value.

10. Develop trust and credibility over time

Remember that strategic relationship building is a long game with corporate decision-makers. Demonstrating unwavering commitment, reliability and integrity is how genuine trust is built over time.

Some ways to reinforce credibility include:

  • Respond quickly

  • Honor commitments

  • Show appreciation

  • Share credit


The old business adage rings true: People want to do business with people they know, like and trust. This cannot be achieved overnight, but only through ongoing shared experiences.

Further Reading:

  1. “14 Unique Aspects Of Building Relationships In The Business World.” Forbes, 03 Oct. 2022,

  2. Clarke, Michelle. “Ten Tips to Forge Strong Trusted Relationships with Decision-Makers.” FP&A Trends, 19 Sep. 2023,

  3. Connaughton, Brendan. “How To Find Decision Makers: 7 Proven Strategies.” Qwilr, 18 Sep. 2023,

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