If you have one or more global accounts—large companies with a global footprint—it’s important to approach them globally – but this is a tall order for a busy sales department, especially among newer companies where any account-based approach has a learning curve. As described in my new book, Whale Hunting with Global Accounts, global account-based sales development (ABSD) requires a smart, comprehensive development plan. Here’s how to get started.

What is global account-based sales development?

Global account-based sales development is an outbound sales campaign for a well-defined portion of a multinational account. It could be a target prospect account you’re already researching, or a current client you’d like to expand. The key is, it’s one single, gigantic whale – with hundreds of parts!

Who owns the global campaign?

In this example, taken from my book, my client is a fast-growing firm that provides multiple services to the pharma industry. Almost all the large global pharma companies are my client’s customers, but most of their contracts have been based in the United States. Suppose they’ve completed several successful engineering contracts with Novartis in the U.S., and now they want to introduce themselves to potential Novartis buyers in other strategic locations around the world.

How would they approach a global campaign?

You might say Engineering (a practice area) “owns” the current job, led by a project manager. A sales rep or account manager “owns” the Novartis whale account on the sales side, and Marketing “owns” anything defined as a campaign.

Since this is a whale-hunting company, it is, by definition, an account-based everything (ABE) company; and so Sales and Marketing will collaborate on the campaign with input from Consulting (the practice area that wants to expand into Novartis). And as an ABE company, marketing will take the lead on campaign activities because they are the team with that kind of expertise. But they’re deeply engaged with sales on this one to leverage existing knowledge to the extent possible.

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Define parameters for sales prospecting

As with any account-based program, defining success is a first step. Here are metrics that should be defined and considered before launching a global ADSD campaign.

1. Identify campaign scope

Global Account Based Sales Development is like fishing for whales


Perhaps the hardest decision in a global account campaign is to determine the scope. In our example, Novartis AG, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, consists of 533 companies, organized into three segments (each major companies in their own right), several divisions, and many global business units. When you say you “want to target Novartis,” that might not mean much: They have 133k employees! A better approach would be to target individuals or departments on a much more granular level in order to make a dent in their awareness.

2. State purpose

You performed a service very successfully in one Novartis member company. Now your purpose is to introduce yourself to other Novartis companies through an intentional marketing/sales campaign. That is, it starts with marketing and is followed up by sales.

3. Define desired outcome

The desired outcome is similar to that of any other campaign: What do you want people to do? Click? Download a white paper? View a video? Most business developers want a sequence of coordinated touches over a period of time coming from key players in marketing, engineering, and sales.

4. Set metrics for success

How will you know if the campaign worked? Be very specific about the outcomes you want and what success will look like. I recommend short-term and longer-term metrics. Because the campaign is focused on one account, work with engagement-type metrics. In the short-term, traditional marketing metrics are good–how many touches, how many opens, likes, responses, downloads, etc. Are you reaching the right people with your messages? Is there any evidence they’re engaging with you? Longer term, the campaign must lead to more business with this account. But it requires great patience. Building a new deal with a new division of a global account could take 12 months, 18 months, 24 months? Do not undermine the good work of your teams by failing to have excellent metrics to demonstrate engagement along the way.

Research from start to finish

5. Research the company vertical

In our example, suppose you’ve decided to introduce yourself to a new division: Novartis Technical Operations (NTO). They manage all the factory installations worldwide and are made up of 67 sites organized into six technology platforms. Of those, you’ve chosen Biologics as a target prospect because you have engineering expertise there. Within a global whale of a company, you may need to drill down and get very specific!

Global ABSD research should include the strategy of the specific division you’ve chosen, as well as plans for expansion, replacement or refurbishment of factories, refitting of factories to produce a different drug, problem factories. Once you have a comprehensive view of the business landscape of the target department, you can decide where to focus your efforts.

6. Find the buyers

The next step is collecting names and titles of senior NTO leaders, procurement officers, plant managers, and engineers – plus a list of potential end users and those who organize the buying process for your services. Have your team focus on the Biologics personnel, just one of the technology platforms, and pay special attention to senior engineers as they are the people who must know of you if you are to get a hearing. When the sales team gets involved, you’ll be able to expand the list quickly.

7. Refine the ABE technology stack

At this point, it’s important to note that gather the data you’ll need, and going forward with a means of management, is critical for a global ABSD campaign to be successful.

  • Where does all this data come from?
  • Which department or role owns the data?
  • How will the data be managed and shared throughout the different parts and players in the campaign?

If your sales team is well established, you may have all the tools in place; but even if you’re not, it’s never too late to add tools. Many of my clients are in the $50m – $100m revenue range – and they don’t have a sophisticated, integrated sales and marketing stack.

8. Find and manage information

First comes good solid sales and marketing intelligence data, such as DiscoverOrg, to prospect and prioritize a list of target contacts. For the Novartis case, the dataset for TEDD (Technology, Engineering, Design, and Development) would get you org charts as well as names, titles, bios, and verified, direct contact information.

Data integrity and managing information

Global Account Based Sales Development campaign is like whale hunting

A robust customer relationship management system (CRM) is a virtual necessity to capture and hold global account information, and to integrate with social media messaging methods, email, telephone, and any other means of communication – especially when the client is getting touches from different departments. A central CRM ensures there’s no duplicate or incorrect data entry and that all data is regularly refreshed. It’s also critical that all stakeholders have access to the same data in order tell a coherent story.

Message logistics

Different messages from different people at different times: Lacking a data management system, this could be confusing at best or off-putting at worst for your global whale. It’s too complex for a spreadsheet on someone’s hard drive. Before you undertake a global account-based sales campaign, make some good technology decisions to support collaboration, teamwork, and efficiency.

Engagio is a great product to integrate your marketing and sales communication messaging. Altify or Revegy, sitting on top of Salesforce or another powerful CRM, will allow your team to visualize the scope of a global account and map your strategic approach at every stage of the deal.
Global account deals are high six-figure deals or multiples of seven-figure deals. They are whales! You can’t expect a quick ROI, but you can a very profitable return. A serious, targeted approach to sales lays the groundwork for higher probability of closing.

9. Define Message and Method

Now that information and a data management system are in place, it’s time to focus on shaping a message for your whale of a campaign.

Message content

Imagine how specific you can be with an account-based strategy! You’re not sending messages to personas, but to people – people with real names and real job titles. All content assets in all forms are available to you–videos, white papers, Skype conversations, personal notes, a blog post that someone wrote last year, an answer to a specific question, industry-relevant data. You’re not imagining what might interest someone; you’re getting to know them.

Format and delivery

As you familiarize yourself with target prospects as individuals, consider what contact formats they prefer. Some respond well to personalized email or social touches, while others only respond by picking up the phone. Before you start any outreach, identify the message format from start to finish – and remember that from a buyer’s perspective, the message will likely involve a variety of content from multiple sources on a specific cadence.

10. Clarify responsibilities

Your organization will determine who’s in charge of what parts of this campaign, but be sure to make assignments very specific so that nothing falls through the cracks. If you’re not accustomed to working across the functional lines, working out your responsibilities is even more important.

A final thought: At the end of a traditional Inuit whale hunt, the whale is expected to be reborn. Let that expectation guide your account-based plan as you offer the gift of rebirth to your next sales whale!

Barbara Weaver Smith is the founder & CEO of the Whale Hunters, Inc. Her highly rated recent book, Whale Hunting with Global Accounts, moves readers beyond the typical small and midsize business growth solution by providing powerful steps and tools to find, land, and harvest whale-sized accounts.


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Barbara Weaver Smith
About the author

Barbara Weaver Smith

Barbara Weaver Smith is the founder & CEO of The Whale Hunters, Inc. and author of the highly rated Whale Hunting with Global Accounts.