Effective ways to manage (partner with) Global Communication Service Providers (GSPs)

Over time, multinational CSPs have increasingly implemented global strategies such as standardizing processes and systems, centralizing product and infrastructure purchases, adopting common branding and much more. Although each market where they do business is different (local culture, potential customers, size, regulations, taxation, competitors, etc.), there are similarities that fuel them to implement global strategies, adopting a global culture with local flavor to operate in different countries. By standardizing infrastructure, product and service specification, CSPs benefit from lower costs, better supply chain, better service and no less important: to partner with technology providers who can help them to grow globally.

Technology providers (from now on suppliers), face the dilemma to change their organizations to grow with GCSPs by implementing a global program or to remain local which sooner or later may risk losing customers.

Deciding to play global

Not all multinational CSPs could fit as a global CSP, moreover, not all global CSPs could fit your business. The first exercise suppliers should conduct is to assess potential global CSPs that match their own strategy to each potential customer:

Size & Potential Revenue

First, the supplier should compare their current business with a global CSP versus the potential business they may gain with a global engagement.
By gaining new markets where GCSPs are using other vendors , supplier can benefit from new revenues, however some large customers do not want a long term relationship, but instead just wish to obtain extra discounts from the vendors. In any case, it is predictable that supplier´s revenue volume will increase but margins will in some cases decrease.

Geographic Spread & Global Structure

A potential customer can operate in several regions/countries and a geographic supplier’s footprint can match in most or some of the locations, however GCSP may require to be served with the same Service Level Agreement (SLA) in ALL regions/ countries, meaning that the supplier should invest in local structure and resources in every country where the GCSP operates. Having a geographic presence match is not enough to partner with a GCSP, a global strategy must be developed by adopting global culture where a global team manages the main activities, coordinates vital information at all levels and sets up business strategies and local/national resources that are aligned to it. A global structure may include global P&L and processes supported by systems integrated at global level. Although a supplier can operate in different countries through local system integrators, it will be necessary to implement processes and systems with them to standardize service to GCSPs.

Strategic Account

Over the last years CSPs have been concentrating, capturing a great portion of the business worldwide. For a supplier, a given GCSP could represent an important portion of its’ business which it , cannot afford to lose,thereby being forced to implement a GAM program. GCSPs may also become strategic to the vendors due to the fact that they may represent an opportunity to generate new sources of revenue if they expand business internationally. Finally a consistent supplier of GCSPs could influence other GSPS to buy from it due to its’ increased profile in the marketpalce.

Cultural Fit & Trusted Relationship

Business increases when supplier becomes a trusted advisor to the GCSP.. Becoming a trusted advisor will depend on how the supplier performs along the time and how supplier fits culturally and how it delivers on GCSP’s expectations. Resources, profiles and location of each member (Sales, Presales, Product Managers, Service Managers, Project Managers and even partners to service GCPs in different countries) of the GAM team is the key to succeed. Essentially a supplier must understand the GCSP´s strategy and work hard to build a trusted, long term relationship to get consistent business over the time. It may require to develop special products or to invest in local resources even when a given location is not profitable but overall business is.

Other Benefits

Implementing a Global Program is costly and payback could take some time, however market consolidation accelerates supplier´s decision to adopt some kind of GAM model. It is healthy to measure the success of the GAM program by placing a global P&L, however there are some additional benefits that count, e.g. a supplier can develop a product or service to be replicated in several countries, on the other hand, that product development could not be profitable by selling it just to one location. Another benefit is the geographical spread when supplier must provide service where it has no presence. Supplier could upsell to other CSPs in new markets gained because of a global contract with GCSPs.

Building a Global Account Management (GAM) team

The first exercise to be done for a given GCSP is to assess at least the size of current business and potential business plus geographical spread, strategic importance, global structure & cultural fit. A good match of coincidences with positive indicators will lead the supplier to adopt a GAM program. Once the decision is taken, a GAM program needs to be fully implemented.
Depending on the phase of the business where supplier is and the way that GCSP manages global providers, suppliers can develop different GAM programs. Initially the supplier could place a Global Account Manager to coordinate activities and promote sales at the corporate level, but it is recommended that a fully dedicated GAM team be created to address all levels of the operation.
A common model adopted by suppliers includes exclusive resources and not dedicated ones. Following is a description of the main positions in a GAM program:

Global Account Manager

Commonly located at corporate headquarters, the Global Account Manager is a sales executive in charge of building long term-trusted relationships with GCSP. Primary responsibilities include coordinating activities, setting up strategies and deals with cross cultural issues (e.g. geographical spread teams, systems, processes, cross cultural conflicts), coordinating global logistics and managing complex internal and external networks. Also the GAM is responsible for internal and external communication. Local or national account managers normally report to GAM and their decision is limited to a global strategy. Presales resources dedicated to support the GCSP also report to GAM.

Global Service Manager

GSM leads all service activities after project deployment. GSM mission is to ensure that committed Service Level Agreement (SLA) meet or exceed GCSP expectations. GSM coordinates with local/national service personnel, business units and has regular communication and service level reviews with GCSP. His role is also very important in customer satisfaction. GSM should also be dedicated to the GAM program.

Global Presales Manager

GPM leads local/national presales resources to develop business opportunities in different countries by presenting products and solutions, finding ways to understand the needs of GCSP in each location and promoting best solutions for them. In addition the GPM is the point of contact at GCSP headquarter to promote products and solutions that can be used globally, interfacing with GCSPs product managers among others.

Global Project Manager

GPM´s role is to coordinate and lead project deployment when required, GPM could be dedicated or not depending on the amount simultaneous projects with GCSP in place, expertise required and so on, in any case GPM coordinates local/national PMs when is needed.

Bid Manager

Usually not dedicated to the GAM program, BM is responsible to build competitive, profitable and viable proposals under the direction of GAM and Presales Manager.

Best Practices by Adopting a GAM Program

Expand Global Culture into the organization

A GAM program must be supported by a solid global culture within supplier´s organization. A GCSP operating in several countries usually has to be served in all places with the same level desired. It means that each supplier´s country operation should have clear rules for communication and coordination. Global resources such as GAM, GSM, etc must be disciplined to coordinate local/national teams as well as to collect information from them to enhance service and empower business opportunities. The GAM should promote a global system implementation to have on line information about all activities related to GCSP. Also, compensation plans should be adapted to reinforce a global culture, for example, part of each member´s compensation plan may include a component of global achievements (global revenue from a determined GCSP, global customer satisfaction survey, etc) A truly collaborative culture (everybody wins) improves teamwork, helps to create a trusted relationship with customer and also accelerates business.

Understand GCSP´s and Align Strategy

A deep understanding of GCSP´ strategy to address markets, competitors, regulations, etc. is the key to develop the right GAM program. An important question to ask is – do the supplier´s products and services fit the GCSP strategy? Answers may lead the supplier to make changes in product roadmap…Another important question is are supplier´s resources and systems prepared for the level of service required in each location? Are we ready to implement a GAM program?
Carefully assessing the supplier´s capabilities and matching them with the GCSPs strategies will help to put the right GAM program in place from day one.

Be Consistent

The reason for implementating a GAM program is to build a long term business relationship with your potential GCSP customer. A daily improvement of the organization generates trust and more business. A consistent GAM program measured by business indicators with a focus on customer satisfaction will help the supplier to succeed.


Sources

  • Managing Global Accounts – George Yips/Audrey Bink
  • Global Account Management – Leonard Given/Charles Smith
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