Why you Can’t Automate Your B2B Relationships

The world is changing.

If you’re a B2B marketer, you know that one of biggest challenges facing marketing professionals today is meeting the buyer where they are.

So how do you market in the way that they want to be sold to? How do you align your marketing strategy to meet them where they’re at?

The short answer, according to Kristin Zhivago, President at Zhivago Partners, is that the gap between the buyer and the seller is not getting any better — it’s only getting worse.

But why the disconnect; What is causing this growing chasm between the buyer and the seller?

“The automation of relationships does not work. It ignores your individuality, your specific needs, and you as a human being.”


You Can’t Automate Relationships

One of the main reasons the gap is getting worse, is that every company is now trying to automate relationships.

Think about it: most tech companies are started and run by engineers, right?

Engineers are great, but marketing usually isn’t their strong suit. So they look for ways to automate the relationship process.

With automated nurturing, email, voicemail, and everything else that is coming down the pipeline, we’re pushing people further and further away and they’re tired of it. They don’t want any part of it.

We’re not selling to them the way they want to be sold to.

Are you a Dog or a Cat?

When it comes to the B2C world, you already know what you want for the most part.

You can log onto the Nike website right now, custom design your own pair of sneakers that uniquely fit your style, personality, and comfort level — You can truly personalize your experience.

But on the B2B side, it’s quite different.

On the B2B side, you recognize a problem, and you know that you need a certain type of software to solve that problem.

For example, let’s say that you want a project management software:

The issue is that there are dozens and dozens of different project management software companies out there, all looking to sell you their product. You really aren’t going to know what you want until you’ve already pulled the trigger on a demo, and you’re knee-deep into the software.

But what happens when the company selling you that product hasn’t stopped to listen and talk with you about their solution… will your problem ever truly become fixed?

“We far too often try to automate every aspect of a relationship, rather than talking with and listening to the consumer.”


It’s been said that sales people are like dogs, and marketers are like cats.

Marketers, without making sweeping generalizations, tend to be a little more people adverse. They want to stay in the corner, do their thing, and not cause a scene.

Sales people are like dogs, in that they’ll pounce on you the minute you walk through the door, giving you all the attention in the world, but never actually stopping to listen to what it is that you need, or what it is that you don’t need.

You’ve got to have a healthy mix of both.

Interview Your Customers

As a marketer, at the end of the day, you’ve got to get your customers on the phone.

That doesn’t mean email, or voicemails, or cute little videos — you’ve got to get them on the other end of the phone.


For starters, they’re going to be much more talkative and less awkward than in person. On the phone, you can also fill those awkward silences, that in person could totally derail any conversation.

The other reason is that it truly gives you an idea as to what your customers want:

You know this to be true, because you haven’t automated right past them.

Instead, you’ve chosen to really give them the attention that they need and listen to their needs as any good mixture of cat and dog would.

Truly aligning with the customer isn’t terribly difficult, but it is going to take shifting the way that you’re doing things; you’re going to have to make a vow with yourself to invest figuring out exactly what your customer wants.

“The vow I made to myself was that I’d learn everything I could about technology and selling.”


But in the end, you’re going to experience far more success when you’ve truly dialed in to what your customers want, rather than just flying blind through an automated process.

This post is based on an interview with Kristin Zhivago from Zhivago Partners. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

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