The “Keystone” of B2B Corporations isn’t CRM or Marketing Automation

Posted by James Obermayer on Sep 19, 2011 6:28:00 AM

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James Obermayer, Executive Director and CEO of the Sales Lead Management Association and President of Sales Leakage Consulting is a regular guest blogger with ViewPoint.


The Keystone is the wedge-shaped stone piece at the apex of a masonry vault or arch, which is the final piece placed during construction and locks all the stones into position, allowing an arch to bear weight.[1] A masonry arch or vault cannot be self-supporting until the keystone is placed. (Thank you Wikipedia)

The question which begs to be answered is, “What is the Keystone in the sales and marketing process?” There are numerous software products attempting to take credit for being the Keystone (much better than a corner stone).

Is it the CRM system, without which so much important information would be lost? Without a CRM the ability to manage large pipelines, prospects, and customers would be difficult.

Is it the Marketing Automation system, without which 100% follow-up would be lost? Without the Marketing Automation process, customer needs would not be profiled, follow-up would be 200-300% less and salespeople would be pursuing prospects with so little information that they appear blind to the prospects’ needs.

Both of these are good arguments that the Keystone title should fall to one or the other of them, but I think in B2B when salespeople are still involved in the sales process (skipping the shopping cart), the Keystone for the company resides with the salesperson and a single action that he or she performs or fails to perform.

Sales Lead Follow-Up is the Keystone

True, the CRM helps reduce the failure rate of follow-up sales activity that every salesperson must perform. And yes, the Marketing Automation system reduces the failure rate where the sales activity of follow-up lies fallow and under-performed. Even with these two great tools the sales person makes a choice every day to support the entire structure of the organization by simply taking this one action: following up on every sales lead.

All of the tools being developed and improved upon, from CRM to Marketing Automation and Social Media still rely on this one sales activity for success. The salesperson must pick up the phone, email or knock on the door and make contact. They must pursue the buyer regardless of how many phone calls or emails, broken appointments and abusive attitudes, to consummate a sale. The tools the salesperson has are simply tools that must be picked up and used. CRM is the salesperson/managers tool, Marketing Automation is admittedly the marketing managers tool. Regardless, without the salesperson overcoming his or her fear and reluctance of following-up on every sales inquiry and completing the sale, the tools are just…expensive tools.

Never Underestimate the Power of Grabbing Salespeople by their Self-Interest

Sales Self-InterestSeveral weeks ago on the SLMA Blog I discussed how you must grab the salespeople by their self-interest in order to help in the acceptance and adoption of CRM and Marketing Automation. The same holds true here.

You must approach the problem from the self-interest angle for salespeople to over-come their reluctance. By following-up all sales inquiries their self-interest will be served by:

  • Making quota.
  • Increasing sales by 20-50% from sales inquiries and leads.
  • Keep sales management off their backs.
  • Earning the money the company dangled in-front of them as promises when they were hired.

By now you get the point. The Keystone is the small apex of the whole arch and that stone is the sales activity of 100% follow-up which determines whether the arch will stand or fail.

I ask, how do you grab your salespeople by their self-interest to make this complicated system of sales yield all that it can yield? Do you recognize their importance as the “Keystone” or do you grumble without grabbing them by their self-interest?

Tell us what you think!

Topics: Marketing Strategy, Inbound Marketing, Guest Blogs

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