Going Global With CRM: Who to Influence?

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Like a pendulum, your customers alternate their focus — based on the state of the economy — between growth (in good times) or efficiency (during difficult times). And that effects who you have to influence. Photograph by Sylvar.

When the economy gets challenging, organizations centralize. It’s the classic business pendulum, swinging between growth and efficiency:

  • Good times mean growth: When the economy is healthy, companies focus on optimizing every dollar of revenue growth
  • Lean means efficiency: In a down economy, with tight budgets, companies centralize their decision making and prioritize efficiency over growth, to optimize every dollar of spending.

From 2004 to 2008, times were good, and businesses largely focused on growth. With the current downturn, however, organizations have become extremely focused on efficiency, as well as more centralized command and control. Oftentimes, this means that headquarters makes purchasing decisions—albeit with regional offices providing input—on behalf of the entire organization.

This shift towards centralized buying has profound implications on your sales teams, their productivity, and how they sell. Most of all, it forces your salespeople to reevaluate: Who should they influence, and how?

New World Sales Order

Here’s an example to illustrate how the sales reality on the ground has changed. Say your company sells material to Philips that it uses in its medical equipment and imaging lines. (For the record, Innoveer does not work with Philips.) Before, you sold to Philips at its headquarters in Amsterdam, as well as directly to its medical device manufacturing branch in New Jersey.

Recently, however, Philips HQ has begun making all purchasing decisions, both on behalf of all of its medical equipment and imaging outlets worldwide and with their input. Accordingly, you don’t just need to influence people in Amsterdam and New Jersey, but in every one of the Philips medical device businesses, including those operating in countries or regions where you currently don’t sell. In other words, life just got more difficult for your salespeople.

Five Steps to Global CRM

That’s because, in general, it’s much easier for sales representatives to sell to one location at a time. With one location, you can keep much of the underlying information and relationships in your head. But once you’re faced with a multi-national sale hinging on the input of various global decision makers, you need to get vital information—including sales activities and lists of key decision makers—out of people’s heads, and into the CRM system.

Above all, facilitating this shift toward global sales and local influence requires five tactics:

  • Revamp business processes to support distributed, team-based sales
  • Adjust the CRM system to likewise facilitate this more team-centric sales approach—including collaboration technologies and document sharing
  • Practice “org-charting” to understand everyone you must influence, in every geography. (We’re long-standing fans of using org charts, and today the practice is more important than ever.)
  • Rewrite quoting rules to know who can create a quote, and who must approve it
  • Rethink quote dissemination to ensure that sales reps properly “shop” the quote to decision makers at a customer, before officially submitting it to their HQ

The goal of these changes is simple: no matter where they’re located, your sales teams must be able to work together.

Sell Salespeople on Global CRM

By the way, a secondary benefit of using CRM to support global sales is that it’s a great way to demonstrate the value of CRM to your salespeople (since you must always sell your salespeople on CRM) who may be quite skeptical about using it in a more global, collaborative way. So show them: Before Katinka, your account manager in the Netherlands, visits your client’s international headquarters in Amsterdam, wouldn’t it be great to know that Sally, your salesperson based in Pennsylvania, has already made inroads at the client’s U.S. headquarters in Pittsburgh? Indeed.

In fact, for your sales teams to succeed, they must be able to think locally and globally. Support them with revamped business practices and align CRM to match. In this way, you can adapt to your customers’ more centralized approach to decision making.

Learn More

Whenever you make changes to your CRM system or approach to selling, you’ll need to balance competing business, organizational and technology requirements to create a CRM system that people will use. See our white paper on the topic, “The Value of Working with CRM Experts.”

Along the way, also consider the best ways to overcome any user resistance to CRM that you encounter. Our Q&A with Robeco Direct contains useful strategies. And whenever you alter your approach to SFA, always balance the needs of senior executives with the needs of your salespeople. Our “Striking a Balance” white paper contains more details.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to sell any CRM changes to your own salespeople.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.

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