It can be a hard-knock life for the B2B manager, particularly when it comes to convincing executives about the value of your contribution.

For instance, a recent Pricewaterhouse Cooper shows that supply chain leaders who viewed supply chains as a strategic discipline achieved 87 percent more than average function in annual inventory turnover. Despite this, less than half said their companies viewed the supply chain as strategic and just 9 percent said their supply chain was helping them outperform their peers, according to Supply Management.

Need another example? A United Parcel Service (UPS) survey showed that just 41 percent of executives report success in managing their supply chain costs.

In healthcare, regulations and reform rank as major barriers to global expansion, along with concerns about product security and product protection.

But even though B2B may suffer from a image problem within companies, these same surveys show that supply chains can play a key role in creating a strategic advantage for companies.

The Pricewaterhouse Cooper survey found that supply chain leaders who view it as a strategic asset get supplies on-time and in-full 96 percent of the time — compared with 89 percent of the time for those who don’t.

So, obviously, there’s reason to believe that a strategic approach to B2B can pay off.

What do strategic B2B managers do differently?

For healthcare, that means increasing collaboration, adopting segment-based supply chains and using new technologies and models for innovation, according to the Supply Chain Review.

In other industries, the Pricewaterhouse Cooper report identified seven best practices followed by supply chain leaders, including:

  1. Tailoring their supply chains to meet different operational requirements and investing in them to meet the needs of emerging markets;
  2. Investing in next-generation supply chain capabilities
  3. Focusing on “seamlessly” serving customers in a turbulent market while enhancing organizational profitability;
  4. Outsourcing production and delivery from multiple vendors but keeping control of core strategic functions;
  5. Avoiding sole-sourcing;
  6. Regularly reviewing suppliers’ financial performance;
  7. Looking for best-cost countries but differentiating by order-to-delivery time.Interest is growing in making supply chains more sustainable and in next generation technologies.