Globalization is a challenge facing all IT organizations - from startups to multinational corporations doing billions of dollars in revenue. If a vendor is looking to partner with a corporation doing business internationally (like Johnson & Johnson), they need a different approach than the typical IT sell.
David Reich is the former Global VP of IT at Johnson and Johnson
There are three key ways to better position your organization to sell your IT solution at a global scale:
1) partner with an insider at the organization who can share the cultural underpinnings and reveal the overarching goals of the company
2) pitch how your solution will help diminish siloing and connect the international dots while still addressing local, regional, and global requirements, and
3) make sure you have global sales and support capability for your product
These strategies will put your team in a much better position than your competition when it comes to pitching corporations operating on a worldwide scale.
WHAT EVERYONE GETS WRONG ABOUT GLOBALIZATION AND IT
There is a fundamental misunderstanding of what globalization is and how to build internal structures that can scale. IT departments face a particularly difficult battle when it comes to adapting to an increasingly global landscape. When it comes to IT, it’s not just a matter of harmonizing processes which can be replicated in local sites around the globe; it’s about standardizing and unifying platforms globally.
If a corporation has a presence in international markets, it’s easy to think that it has a wide-ranging perspective, but this isn’t necessarily the case. What most organizations have are regional silos that have been organically created. By putting individuals in charge of regional silos, all organizations do is create a spiderweb of regionality with a thin overlay. Real globalization is about homogenization and standardization of business practices within IT systems. To achieve both across a multi-national corporation, with different component cultures, organic drivers, and supply chains, is a challenge few have overcome. Just because the company you're selling to has a global presence, it doesn't mean they're globalized.
Real globalization is about homogenization and standardization of business practices within IT systems.
So how do you, as a vendor, position yourself as a partner who can help a multinational organization like J&J achieve real globalization?
FIRST, PARTNER WITH AN INSIDER AT THE ORGANIZATION WHO CAN ATTEST TO THE OVERARCHING GOALS OF THE COMPANY
Corporations with organizations that span varied countries and regions have complex internal processes and relationships that can be difficult for even tenured employees to wrap their heads around. Partnering with an insider at an organization who has high-level insight into both the company’s structure and overarching goals is essential to positioning yourself well in the sales process.
For example, when vendors would come in and talk about their global capabilities at J&J, they needed to be able to answer how their respective technology stack was going to work in Asia versus Oceania versus Europe versus South America. They needed to be prepared to talk about the lag time of data entry in China, which would be very high due to the Chinese cyber wall. They should have anticipated that this issue would be of great concern to a buyer like myself who spent considerable resources at J&J solving the issue of standardization between Asia (China specifically) and other continents. They needed to be able to answer, “What technology stack have you been able to leverage in order to ensure the same user experience regardless of location and hence make the system efficient?”
An insider would help a vendor understand that these were the kinds of answers i was looking for. It’s this kind of intelligence--about internal priorities, values and personalities, as well as vision into culture--that is impossible to gather from LinkedIn but that makes all the difference in a pitch meeting.
SECOND, PITCH HOW YOUR SOLUTION WILL DIMINISH SILOING AND CONNECT THE INTERNATIONAL DOTS
Understanding the market and the organization’s position within it is a complex process; understanding the different arms of a multinational corporation is more complex, still. It is vital that you can communicate how your product will serve their needs in a standardized way that provides harmony at all tiers: local, regional, and global.
Vendors that can diminish this siloing and easily connect the dots are in a strong position to serve the needs of an increasingly smaller world. It’s vital to appeal to local, regional, and global understandings of the value your product delivers, while also ensuring knowledge of local and regional regulations and compliance law.
For example, the EU is implementing a data regulatory requirement in May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Modeled on the current local regulations in Germany, this will require all organizations doing business in both the EU and United States to comply with additional Data residency and accessibility requirements for the EU. Any vendor seeking to do business in the EU will have to present a plan for how their product will comply with the GDPR regulations, while also being mindful of the fact that the regulations for data collection, privacy, and residency are different in Asia, Australia, South America.
The key for you as a vendor is to articulate the value in this step: not just in understanding and complying with the local and regional regulations, but also in finding a way to diminish the risk for the corporation by ensuring your product’s compliance. When you take the risk and solve the problem in an efficient way with value, you put yourself far ahead of the competition.
THIRD, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE GLOBAL SALES AND SUPPORT CAPABILITY FOR YOUR PRODUCT
When it comes to IT sales, a vital question that needs to be addressed is: do you, as a vendor organization, have global reach and capacity? Even when purchasing something as simple as software for my company’s offices in different countries, I have to look at implementation questions like, where should the tenancy be? What’s more advantageous from a regulatory perspective? What will be most cost effective?
Challenges arise when your company is not equipped for global licensing. For example, one software vendor to J&J had sold more than 50 different agreements to various entities of J&J. We asked them for one, consolidated global agreement, and they said they could deliver. However, it was clear by the second hour of talks that this would be impossible due to complications over remuneration of their varied sales organizations on different continents. How would customer service work? Who would get credit? The vendor was limited by their regional siloing and inability to break out of their own corporate structure; they could not offer us a deal that solved our pain point.
When you are looking to do work globally, you need to think about how your sales structures are built: those constructed around local or regional remuneration are inadequate for business at a global scale. Ensuring that your organization is equipped for both sales and support capabilities at a multinational, enterprise scale is essential before you walk into the room. If you can walk in and offer a truly global deal - rather than go after dozens of individual deals - you will be providing tremendous value to an organization.
GETTING CLOSER TO THE SALE
When you are seeking to partner with global organizations, you need to understand what you are walking into. There are so many moving pieces to an IT sale. Too many vendors promise the cloud but cannot deliver or have not thought through what “global” really means. It’s key to think ahead - to think through the challenges that even the largest multinational corporations actively face - and to creatively assess how you can solve their pain points.
I’ve listened to countless vendors pitch IT solutions over the course of my career, and at the risk of over-generalizing, the simplest way to put yourself ahead of the curve is to consider how your product solves their pain point at the local, regional, and global levels. How will it comply with regulations at each of those levels? How will it work with the unique tech stacks at those levels, efficiently and in a way that promotes harmonization and standardization? How will it bring value?
Answering these questions requires you to do your homework on an organization before pitching. I was once pitched a much-needed IT solution by a vendor I had personally reached out to who asked me, point blank, why I thought I needed his solution because - in his words - didn’t Johnson & Johnson just sell baby powder?
Partnering with an insider at an organization is the fastest way to do your homework. An insider can help you learn about the organization’s pain points and, most especially, understand the unique and surprising value you can bring to an organization that even they may not have thought of. IT sales are complicated - but with an Emissary at your disposal, they don’t have to be.
David is a seasoned IT Executive with 20+ years of Global Technology Executive Management experience in the Information Technology field covering Pharmaceuticals (Johnson& Johnson), Supply Chain (McNeill Pharmaceuticals), Retail (Macys), Banking (Credit Suisse) and Financial Services (Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs).
In addition to the corporate sector experience David has spent 10+ years as an IT Management Consultant to Fortune 100 Companies and has founded multiple IT companies/ventures.