COO & Co-Founder, DemandFarm
Previously published under the Council Post for the Forbes’ Business Development Council
In the last few decades, with the spread of globalization, many companies expanded their businesses to operate globally at either the supply side or demand side—or both.
Take the example of Jane, an account manager, who used to wine and dine her customers. She once relied upon personal interactions with local stakeholders to run the business smoothly. Today, she faces the challenge of stakeholders dispersed across the globe. As a leader, Jane must now be able to keep track of multiple transactions and leverage what works in each region. Knowing just when and where to follow up is critical. How does Jane’s business survive in this global, digital world?
Effective global account management is only complicated further amid a looming recession. Yet while they may seem scary, recessions don’t change the basics of how to interact with customers—they only raise the stakes.
Existing customers have always contributed the most to revenue. According to an article from Harvard Business Review, within a few years of first introducing a global account management program, companies can expect existing customer satisfaction to go up by 20%—in addition to increases in profits. As key accounts are rendered even more important in a recession, retaining them during an economic downturn becomes of utmost importance.
With the expansion of organizational growth targets, it’s important for sales leaders to initiate a clear account management process and establish global account management systems which not only bolster retention rates but also help in identifying and leveraging opportunities for growth.
What is global account management?
Global account management programs treat a customer’s worldwide operations as one integrated account. This involves clear and logical terms for pricing as well as specifications of products and services provided. An effective system will promote the cultivation of long-term relationships with key customers. It should also be capable of coordinating globally, with a variety of international resources and cultural diversity as well as a global account team that is catered to customers.
A customer relationship management (CRM) tool’s key role is to help establish a long-term relationship with a global account. This can help a company learn more about the real needs of its customer and better determine its decisions by providing a clear view of the customers in one place.
How can we move beyond the CRM?
Global accounts are managed at multiple levels: Headquarters, regional, national and local. The biggest challenge in global account management is determining how to manage the flow of strategies, plans, information and execution in both directions across multiple levels. This requires a cohesive account plan, as it’s essential to build and maintain relations with both global customers and internal stakeholders.
When business is spread across various places, available data is often isolated, which can make communication with stakeholders difficult. Frameworks for institutionalizing and viewing all data in a single place often do not exist. This impedes the ability of global account managers to collaborate with their account teams—which makes building an effective account plan all the more challenging.
In order to implement a successful global account management, a series of complex measures are required. These include:
• Analyzing customer requirements.
• Solving complex problems and developing solutions.
• Ensuring support for a range of services and products.
• Developing global sales strategies in order to hit growth and profit targets.
• Designing and implementing roadmaps that align across regions.
• Developing global sales projects to continuously improve market performance.
Why the shift to digital global account management?
In today’s digitally interconnected world, it’s grown difficult to coordinate strategic account managers locally when managing global accounts. That’s why many companies choose to leverage a consolidated digitized space capable of handling global accounts. As a disclosure, my company DemandFarm is one provider of such digital global account management solutions.
An effective digital account planning system should help in global account management, productivity and more. It should be able to help your team focus on relationships throughout the organization’s life cycle by providing support. It should also increase your ability to form long-term relationships with customers by setting an expectation of consistent, exceptional performance even during unstable times.
Recent innovations in AI-backed digital account planning tools can provide essential intelligent insights. When considering such solutions, you want to make sure a tool will allow for trends in all your global accounts to be tracked progressively and provide guided solutions to empower your team.
How can companies get the most out of their global key account management?
An effective digital account management tool should track all your deals, providing a holistic view and prioritizing action items based on proximity to closing dates and urgency. A solid solution will keep track of your expected revenue and whether your revenue goals are met as well as provide insights into growth and depreciation.
Here are four results you should seek out when considering a digital global account management tool.
1. It should boost your account manager’s experience.
An effective tool will optimize your key account manager’s experience by connecting various verticals to provide a comprehensive look into your biggest accounts.
2. It should enhance your decision making.
A strong digital account planning system should improve productivity and decision-making by providing smarter and faster knowledge bases and customer portals.
3. It should provide AI-backed insights
AI can help address data overload and reduces the time it takes to complete administrative tasks. This can be a valuable feature for teams due to its ability to groom leads constantly, helping lead to strong relations with clients. It can also help ensure future targets are met.
4. It should bolster retention.
An effective and customer-oriented tool should provide a better experience for your business and drive retention as much as products and services offered.
Is your global account management leveraging the right tools?
Increasing globalization and multiplying sales goals have compelled many leaders to appraise their global account management. I hope this article provides readers with some valuable insights on what to seek out when considering a digital global key account management tool.