Winning and keeping global customers is a complex task that goes well beyond the customer relationship management initiatives of most companies. This goes back as far as the 1980' s when the first explorations of a global integrated account was tested. Early adopters were companies like IBM and Xerox who had multinational customers implementing their IT products and services. More than 30 years later global account management roles can be seen in almost every industry and size of company.
In these 30 years there have consistent pain factors. One of them being the complexity and confusion of dealing with a global account. You've got enough to deal with within your own company but your client takes this to another level! You can have all the insight in the world but that wont prepare for the irrationality of human behaviour particularly in a global account. The result is you can end up like the image in a winding cascade of stairs that go no where.
Some of the global account management conundrums you'll recognise are:
- Multiple buying practices with no centralised process
- Matrix structures with dispersed teams that are hard to track
- Poor client internal communication (Every interaction can feel like you're starting from scratch)
- Overly complex org charts - can be challenging to know who is in charge
I'm sure you could add things to this list...
I want to address one of the statements above that seem to be most pressing to some recent global account managers I was coaching.
How do you create an integrated global account management strategy when there are multiple buying practices with no centralised place to buy? Here are three things to consider:
- No centralised budget could mean they might not be the right client at this moment to adopt a global account strategy - This will be based on how you evalute your global accounts. One of the poor decisions made by GAM's and organisations is they treat every global customer as a global account even before they've evaluated whether that client is the right fit for executing that type of service and apply those resources. Questions like: How many countries are you in with your customer today? how profitable are they now? what are the potential barriers to growth? what resource will we need to be in place for scaling to be a reality? You need to know whether it's worth your time going through the steps because it will cost you a lot of time. If you decide it is worthwhile then the next two points are for you.
- Get to know the buying decision drivers for each country you're in and find the commonality - Even if countries or regions are purchasing completely different things it's likely they're doing this under a series of common business objectives. Once know what those objectives are you can use that as the basis for testing against the insight you have of your customer and their current buying and produce a super relevant proposal that you can leverage across countries and departments. If this works you can then test these ideas with other global contacts and their needs before diving head in to a full on global selling frenzy.
- Go deep where you are then dominate and scale by reputation - One of the traps I fell into early in my global account management role was trying to scale too quickly. Speaking to every country in my clients region without really thinking about how I would manage that level of communication and difference in sales process. One account in this circumstance could cost me 10-15 hours a week in selling time just to get things started. If you're there the key thing is to start where you are and dominate by reputation. Evaluate the impact, results and reputation you have and use your clients internal system for feedback or communication to scale by referral. If you're truly delivering awesome value and your clients are meeting their objectives their country neighbors and wider business will know about it. Look for opportunities to participate in conversations where other global contacts might be or ways to share testimonials and results as featured reports. Clients are typically very open to this as they get seen in a positive light and what business doesn't want to report on their own successes.
If you want to know more on troubleshooting global account management or Key account management challenges. Look out for my free global account management success webinar coming soon or sign up at www.jermaineedwards.com/signmeup to join my key account newsletter for first serve updates.