November 2010 Archives

The concept of global account management is not a new one. What is distressing however, is that so many companies think that they can build global account management processes without customer intimacy.  In fact, in our experience, the principal reason global account management initiatives fail is because of underinvestment in customer intimacy.

Let's start by asking the standard questions:

  • What are the key drivers of global account management for customer intimacy?
  • How are global accounts identified and selected for customer intimacy?
  • How are these programs initiated, developed and sustained?
  • What organizational structures should be adopted?
  • How global/local issues are best addressed?
  • What is the role of the customer intimacy global account manager?
While we have addressed many of these issues earlier, here, here, and here, we have not discussed the complex processes customer intimacy in global account management requires.

Targeting the Accounts - The targeting of accounts (segments) to build Intimacy Engine™ relationships is just as important as the effort of building and leveraging the intimacy. The proper selection of global accounts has a significant impact on the success of your global account management program.

As we have discussed before, we have interviewed thousands of executives.  They greatly desire partners that bring expertise and insight into their unique situation (be it growth or cost reduction), and stay with them to implement and achieve the benefits.  Therefore, most accounts and segments will be open to your Intimacy Engine™efforts, but not all segments or accounts warrant the effort.


  • Are we targeting taking accounts from our competition?
  • Are we attacking segments that are new to us?
  • Are we protecting existing turf? 
It's critically important to be clear about the expectations from these targets once you have achieved the intimacy you envision.

Building a True Partnership - The beauty of the Intimacy Engine™  is that you can start an account where they want to start - solving their true problems (see the blog entry on True Solutions). 

Please remember this is not just providing consulting services, this is a focused portfolio of offerings that a segment of customers need and value.  Also, this requires empowering your global sales teams with the ability to perform Idea Selling.  These efforts, sales and delivery, will immediately change the account's opinion of your company and the relationship.  This can be done with both existing accounts and target accounts.  It builds your legitimacy and credibility, which in turn provides the launching pad for having trusted advisors in the account.

Building Trusted Advisors - The hallmark of trusted advisors is that they are invited to discuss a broad variety of issues at their accounts and are not seen as sales assets - they are seen as part of the accounts ecosystem and are a positive influence, not an irritant.

How is this achieved? First you must be deliberate about selecting and enabling the people who are going to play the role.  They will leverage the partnership being developed with the account through providing True Solutions, but they will also separate themselves from the effort.  They gain access to executives through the great work the teams are doing, but they must add separate value to the executives they deal with.  This is very important - you must select those that have good business acumen in the global business issues you deal with and broad business understanding. 

Further, they must be equipped with intellectual property (IP) and mini-offers that are targeted to help individual executives.  These include studies, position papers, and related IP,  as well as tips and techniques every executive needs - how to run effective meetings, how to manage difficult subordinates, how to mange a group through change, etc.   It is not enough to just solve the account problems, they must have personal intimacy with your company also.  [I'll cover this subject in more detail in future blog entries.]

Harvesting the Account - The reason you invest in the Intimacy Engine is to increase your footprint in accounts, achieve better pricing, and lower the cost of getting product deals.  Now that you have both company-to-company intimacy by working on the things they care about (True Solutions) and you have person-to-person intimacy (trusted advisors), you can begin to move the account toward the deals you want to have and that are best for your customer.  It is crucial that you have both the legitimacy and credibility of True Solutionsand trusted advisor relationships together - one alone will not work. 

This takes many forms and is somewhat dependent upon your portfolio of True Solutions (how close they are to your product line).  Sometimes it is as straight forward as the trusted advisor informing her contacts that you really want X deal, or it can be a natural outgrowth of your True Solutions.  Often times you create opportunities that never existed before, but the outcome will be deals coming to you through the Intimacy Engine.
The Cycle - Even with the Intimacy Engine , after a large deal the customer will consciously or subconsciously think about the value of the business relationship.  Therefore, it is important (very important) to immediately find an opportunity to bring additional True Solutions to the account so that you reinforce the importance of the partnership you are in.  In essence, this starts the journey again.

The customer journey of the Intimacy Engine is very different from traditional customer relations or traditional global account management. It is much more valuable for both the customer and you. It drives both intimacy and value for both organizations.

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