Global Account Transformation opportunity - Got an opportunity to join a company known for its world leading sales and go to market strategies. Globally this company had identified 55 accounts which contributed 40% of it's annual revenues and each account was led by a "Global Client Director" (CD). My first assignment as CD was to transform one of these global accounts with whom they had a fraction of their fair wallet share and was right at the bottom of this list of 55 accounts. This customer is a very progressive organization which values partnership and has it's presence in India, SAARC & African nations.
Deep diving for issues - Several weeks of interviewing executives of customers, partners and our company across various functions like technology, business, supply chain, finance etc. it was evident that while customer wanted to partner with us but had three major roadblocks.
a. Customer wanted us to contract directly and not through a partner and have our skin in the game
b. Contracting process was very painful as each project contract negotiation was at least 9 months long
c. Commercial negotiation were prolonged and the price proposals did not align to customers's project RoI expectations.
The Strategy - We had our work cut out for the next 12 months to design & execute the account plan. After much deliberations and internal approvals we set out to do the following:
Direct business in Indian Rupees - Leverage a dormant Indian subsidiary and empowered it to do direct product and services business with customers. We evolved a rupee based - direct to customer price list and invoicing process even though the organization was not setup for it e.g., people dealing with custom duties, sales tax, corporate tax, invoicing, collections belonged to different teams spread across the world.
Ease of doing business - Crafted a contractual framework which allowed every project to be an addendum instead of new contract. This reduced the project wise contracting to less than 10 days from earlier 9 months. This was common sense yet wasn't a practice. Success of this model made the customer adopt the same for many other vendors. Our legal counsel also showcased the practice to their worldwide teams.
Negotiation rules of engagement - Agreed with customer’s supply chain management on a three step negotiation process. 1. First price/terms would be best per our estimate - We changed the practice of submitting the first price of $ 900 M for a $ 40 M project. 2. Revised proposal based on customer feedback - A very serious attempt to understand the project RoI & affordability and then re-price. 3. Final proposal to be discussed face to face post which we walk away - Sealing a deal with a shake hand post discussions or drop the project.
The sweet long term outcome - Once this strategy was in place, we signed 8 projects for the next 3 years and by the end of three years of transformation, the annual revenue increased four fold and the next 4 years the same foundation helped the business grow to further four fold. So overall achieved 16x annual revenues over 7 years. We also created an end to end organization to support this account with specialized skill sets and parts of the strategy were used in other accounts too who benefited significantly from the same.
Moral of the story - Customer feedback is extremely powerful and aligning account or sales strategy to address their concerns goes a long way in transformation of relationships and ultimately revenues.
Himanshu is a transformative business leader with three decades of experience in the telecom industry. He is currently the managing director of Syniverse and has extensive experience working in MNC’s like Microsoft, IBM, and CISCO. He polished his management skills studying at the University of Chicago Booth school of business and INSEAD, an extensive education program in strategy, finance, and general business. He is also an angel investor and believes startups can solve the job crisis of India.