The Global Sales Management Balancing Act: Corporate Control vs. Local Autonomy

How does a company based in Palo Alto manage a sales team in Mumbai?

It’s not easy. They are 8,400 miles and 13 time zones apart. And the business customs are very different in California and India.

Needless to say, it’s a balancing act. Palo Alto wants control. The Mumbai team wants flexibility and autonomy.

The Global Sales Management Framework

The answer is to create a global sales management framework that balances Palo Alto’s and Mumbai’s responsibilities in four areas: culture, strategy, metrics and sales/territory management.

Palo Alto:

  • Drives the corporate culture, branding, product offerings, and goals
  • Provides support and coaching

Mumbai creates the local strategy and executes it to achieve its assigned goals.

Culture

Corporate

Certain aspects of corporate culture are sacrosanct wherever the company operates: vision, values, and legal and ethical positions. These are central to the company’s identity. Call it holy writ.

Vision encompasses the company’s brands, product and service offerings, and product roadmap. The corporate home office must maintain its image represented by its brands wherever the company operates.

Values are the company’s core beliefs. For some, values include honesty, respect, diversity, service, and quality. For others, they are lowest market prices or win at all costs.

Either way, the corporate home office must transmit its values globally throughout the company.

Legal and ethical positions protect the company’s assets, tangible and intangible, around the globe. Common legal and ethical positions dictated by corporate home offices include:

  • Respect for all laws in the company’s home country and the laws of the countries in which the company operates
  • Vigorous defense of its intellectual property in all jurisdictions
  • Refusal to pay bribes or other inducements to win business
  • Zero tolerance for theft or other violations of law by employees

Strategy

Corporate

Guided by the company’s vision and values, the corporate home office sets goals and targets for the overall company and its local markets. The home office also provides the engine to make the company run.

This includes product and service offerings, product road maps, the tools necessary to communicate and track information, CRM and ERP systems, financing, and technical and management support.

Local

Each local sales management team creates the local strategy to accomplish its goals — financial, market or product — and has the autonomy to execute the strategy.

Metrics

Corporate

The corporate home office sets and evaluates key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure progress toward achievement of goals: corporate, regional and local.

Local

Each local sales management team develops key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure local progress against local goals, strategy and execution. The local team evaluates its own performance.

Sales/Territory Management

Corporate

The corporate home office (or an office in another country or region) may retain responsibility for directly managing key global accounts. Local office support may be provided as needed, or to maintain local relationships.

Key global accounts may be managed centrally for

several reasons, including: need for a consistent sales approach and message across the account, sales that may affect the customer across multiple locations, or need for a single point of contact for the customer.

Other factors that may determine central management of a customer include:

  • Value to the company in revenue or profitability
  • Size and scope of the customer company — Does it span multiple geographies?
  • Decision-making location
  • Customer’s history with the company
  • Local team’s experience and history — Have they worked successfully with the customer?

Local

Each local sales management team has responsibility for local, non-key accounts. They have decision-making and negotiation authority for accounts in their territory. The corporate home office empowers the local sales management team to drive the business so they reach their goals.

 

 

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