The Key to Global Success? Global CRM

Article Featured Image

FOR GLOBAL businesses, having a global CRM system is critical for getting far-flung sales and support teams on the same page and driving efficiency. But for such systems to be successful, they need to overcome three big challenges: (1) achieving uniform business processes; (2) securing user adoption; and (3) establishing a monitoring system.

Challenge No. 1, achieving uniform processes in areas such as sales forecasting, customer support, and marketing automation, and configuring global CRM to support these processes, too often comes down to a company’s subsidiaries and offices in one region feeling that their accounts differ meaningfully from those of other regions and therefore standardizing processes is a bad idea. Nothing can be further from the truth. Best-in-class companies have demonstrated that 70 percent to 80 percent of all global processes can and should be uniform, with the remaining 20 percent to 30 percent tweaked to meet a region’s unique needs.

Likewise, the challenge of securing user adoption of global business processes and global CRM can be overcome via extensive communications and training. It is not enough that top management insists on using global CRM or adopting global processes. Through an effective communications and training program, users can be shown that the what’s-in-it-for-me far outweighs the inconvenience of learning new processes and supporting CRM technology.

Finally, global companies must embrace analytics to measure the impact of uniform global business processes supported by a global CRM system. Best-in-class global CRM systems now contain needed monitoring and measurement tools to create desired executive dashboards and analytics reports.


Let’s examine how one international firm, Company X, has put global CRM to work in support of its global account management (GAM) process. Company X is a global leader in producing, selling, and servicing fruit plants to farmers. Over the past five years, it has witnessed rapid growth in global accounts that now make up more than 40 percent of the company’s global sales, with the forecast calling for an even higher percentage by 2025.

A few months ago, Company X’s executive team met with their counterparts from their top 10 global accounts, during which time the light bulb went off: Unless Company X harmonized its sales and support processes globally and drove efficiency into these processes with an enhanced global CRM, it risked losing significant business to competitors. Yet Company X faced a dilemma: Rapid growth in global sales over the past decade had meant global business processes and support technology differed across its subsidiaries in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

In response, Company X created a global task force to take inventory of similarities and differences in both processes and technology. The results confirmed meaningful differences in sales forecasting and reporting, production scheduling and delivery, consistency of customer support, and more. By far the biggest disparity was within the critical GAM practices. While Company X has global account managers in each region, these managers use several different processes and technologies to manage their global accounts.

To rectify this situation, Company X formed a global account task force, which brought together global account managers, regional directors, and members of legal, production, and customer support. Through facilitated discussions, the global account task force created the ideal GAM workflow, which was done in collaboration with global accounts to ensure these processes also reflected the needs of their customers.

The next step was to ensure Company X’s current global CRM system supported this new GAM process, which meant some meaningful enhancements to its global CRM software. Once this technical configuration was completed, Company X had to populate the global CRM system with the required account data. This was challenging for two reasons:

• Data privacy laws, e.g., Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), prohibited Company X from sharing some customer data in their global CRM system.

• Due to the lack of integration between the global enterprise resource planning (ERP) and CRM systems, customer financial data failed to flow seamlessly into the global CRM.

Once these data challenges were resolved, Company X was ready to launch its new uniform GAM process and supporting global CRM technology. This required creating and implementing new training and communications materials for the global rollout. Metrics were set up to measure its success.

While still a work in progress, delivering a world-class GAM process supported by enhanced global CRM has taken Company X’s GAM efforts to the next level. Company X now rolls up global account data and automatically generates and sends real-time global account dashboards and analytical reports to global account managers and executives. These dashboards and reports help global account managers make better customer decisions. Company X has also been able to forge deeper relationships with its customers by collaborating on sales and production planning. This has improved sales and margins. Communication among the GAM teams has vastly improved, resulting from the mandate that every customer interaction, from the president of Company X on down, must be entered into the global CRM system. This has led to a more coordinated approach to GAM and quicker resolution of issues and identification of new opportunities.

The next step: Company X is looking to build its “digital hotel” (a thought leadership concept I wrote about in the November-December 2020 issue). Its digital hotel will support its GAM and global CRM efforts by providing these resources:

• a 24/7 view into global customer thinking;

• resolution of customer questions/issues facilitated though global, multilingual peer-to-peer exchanges;

• quick access to Company X’s subject matter experts;

• assistance nurturing leads that will get fed automatically into its global CRM system for sales follow-up; and

• linkages to virtual reality/augmented reality and other customer-friendly tools that drive customer engagement, satisfaction, and advocacy. 

Barton Goldenberg (bgoldenberg@ismguide.com) is president of ISM (www.ismguide.com). Since 1985, ISM has established itself as one of the premier strategic advisers to organizations planning or implementing customer strategies to address digital transformation, data analytics, CRM, social media communities, customer engagement, and emerging technology initiatives. He is in high demand as a keynote speaker (www.bartongoldenberg.com) and is author of four books, including his latest, The Definitive Guide to Social CRM. He is currently completing a new book, Digital Customer Strategy: Your Roadmap During Covid-19 Recovery.

CRM Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues