Is global account management the toughest people management role?
Many organizations have set up global account teams to sell and give service to the most important and demanding customers around the world.
The Global Account Managers leading these complex teams have particularly challenging roles. The teams are remote, often operating in dozens of countries, they have all the challenge of working across diverse cultures and multiple time zones.
Some global account teams have dedicated full time members, but most are virtual and global account managers often do not have direct control of large numbers of resources that they rely on to sell to and service the client. Their people often work on multiple teams at the same time.
Many of the team members also report to local sales organizations with different objectives and metrics. In some cases, they may not see the global account as a priority in their geography, even though globally it is a significant piece of business. This leads to problems with attention, resource allocation and prioritization.
Most global account teams are matrixed, they need to navigate complex matrix or network organisation structures to get things done – both their own and their clients
They get nearly everything done through influence, both with the customer and with the internal functions they need to provide support. They rarely have direct authority to mandate something and must instead engage groups of stakeholders and influence them to get things done.
Add to this the fact that there is often also a commercial dimension to what they are trying to do and you can see that this is one of the most complex people management roles that you can have in a large organization.
Even before COVID-19 many of these relationships and the meetings that sustain them had to be carried out through technology, rather than face to face.
It is quite common for global account managers to report that navigating these challenges around virtual, matrix and global working is even more difficult inside their organisation than it is it externally with their customers and partners.
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