November 1, 2016

The Importance of Personalizing Business Relationships

Take a moment to think about your favorite companies. Why are they your favorites?

Chances are, it’s not only because they offer a great product or a great price, but because “favorite” companies are dedicated to making their customers feel important and valued. Whether with unparalleled customer service or rewards for loyal customers, companies that “break out of the pack” are those that distance themselves from their competitors with an excellent client experience.

Some companies use averages, aggregates, and analytics to predict the wants and needs of their customers. While these approaches work well in B2C, B2B companies should really focus on “intimate big data” – data that provides understanding of a one-to-one buyer at a deep level.

Account, sales, and customer success managers are the keepers of intimate big data. These are the people who personalize business relationships, nurture client experience and are a main reason why a B2B company becomes a “favorite”.

Need more reasons to personalize your business relationships? Here are a couple more.


I mentioned in my last VentureFizz post that almost all products and services today work the way they should. Frankly, this makes it difficult for companies to differentiate on product and price. Differentiating on the reputation and social acceptance of a brand isn’t enough either. Think about HP, GE, and FM Global. The list of great B2B brands is lengthy, which creates a level playing field.

What’s left are individual relationships. It is the strong, personal business relationships that are key to growth across industries and long-term partnerships. Product companies like manufacturers are adding services to differentiate on people, instead of on price. Service businesses like consulting firms, advertising agencies, and insurance brokerages are focusing on client experience to highlight the reliability, skills, and counsel of their people.

Take the commercial insurance industry. Each insurance broker offers similar pricing, plans, and general services. So how does one become the top choice for clients? The answer lies in the one-to-one, personal relationships an insurance broker forges with clients. It takes integrity, competency, recognition, proactivity, savvy and chemistry to become a Trusted Advisor—and a “favorite company.”


With constant competition, companies spend almost $16B annually on sales and marketing technology and training – most of it with dubious results.

If companies understood each of their individual clients at a deep level, marketers could create highly-tailored and effective approaches to strengthening each relationship, while saving a significant amount of money. This one-to-one approach also drives new revenue, especially for big, important relationships, where one contract could make or break the year.

In addition to marketing dollars saved, engaging with individual clients improves contract renewal and retention rates, cross-selling opportunities and organic growth. By focusing on individuals – not averages – it’s not only possible, but probable to keep clients longer and drive lasting revenue.

Global corporations and emerging startups alike need to focus on personalizing business relationships if they want to come out on top. After all, companies don’t do business, people do.


Tom Cates is founder, chief client officer, and chief storyteller of salesEQUITYFollow him on Twitter: @salesEQUITY

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