If your sales organization engages in complex sales to global companies, and you don’t have a strategic plan for maximizing those relationships, then the odds are that your sales team is leaving millions on the table.
To achieve peak effectiveness, organizations selling into complex environments must learn to harness the potential of their global customers. Doing so allows the organization to massively increase their reach and improve performance, at minimal additional investment.
In her 2016 book, Whale Hunting with Global Accounts, Barbara Weaver Smith offers a four-point strategy to help organizations grow their relationships with global clients beyond doing business with a few domestic divisions.
Let’s take a high level look at how most organizations are currently failing on all four points, and what can be done about it.
According to Smith, the vast majority of salespeople know far too little about the organizations they want to sell to. I have observed the same problem, which leads to a wide variety of problems, from failing to get executive buy-in, to losing a deal because of an influencer that wasn’t identified or bought in, to simply missing out on major opportunities because the salesperson didn’t know it existed.
The solution to the knowledge problem is not as simple as encouraging salespeople to do more research. In order for a sales team to execute consistently on a strategy, the strategy must be codified, trained, and reinforced. Salespeople must have a consistent process for gathering the information they need, for recording it where it can be accessed by the entire sales team, and for acting on what they know.
In order to serve global accounts, says Smith, the sales organization must take what they know about the global account, and build an internal structure to serve the account’s needs. Currently, even salespeople who take the time to thoroughly understand a global company’s needs, are not supported by an organizational structure built to serve those needs.
The solution to this problem builds on the solution to the first. With deep knowledge about the customer codified and accessible to the entire team, sales teams can build their internal structure to align with the customer’s needs. This structure can likewise be codified and systematized to serve the entire organization.
Process—or lack thereof—is a common problem for many organizations. In the highly complex world of global sales, this is an even bigger problem, because simply having a series of steps is not enough. As Smith points out, the customer’s journey is changing “rapidly and dramatically,” and every sale is unique in its complexity.
That’s why a dynamic process, supported by software that enables optimization, is critically necessary. The process must account for differences in the customer’s buying process, complexities in their decision-making, lines of service or product they need, which competitors the team is up against, and much more, and these dynamic process elements must all be readily available to salespeople when they need it to ensure consistent execution.
To Smith, vision is what an organization provides to the customer to keep them motivated through the complex process of making decisions and building consensus. I add that vision is also what the sales organization must have in order to achieve a system that consistently wins large accounts.
This requires engagement and commitment from the very highest levels of the organization, to develop and sustain the vision, and to build it into every part of the structure and process. It also requires that organizations put technology in place that provides both the structural backbone for the system as well as the insights that the leadership needs in order to execute on its vision.
Whale Hunting with Global Accounts is well worth reading for its deep insights and thought leadership. We’d love to hear what you think of it in the comments.
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals.
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