Focus your business: Is there a need for a key account management for the food and beverage industries?04 February 2014The food and beverage industries offer a vast variety of applications for air, gas and liquid filtration and separation equipment. Almost every conceivable technology for filtration and separation of materials, particles, and contaminants will be found here, ranging from dust removal equipment for powders and granulates to HEPA / ULPA filters in filling equipment for the dairy industry and extending all the way to product filtration equipment such as filters for milk and for spirits and also for juice clarification.
A wide range of filtering techniques are applied. There are surface filters as well as in-depth filtration, durable filter media as well as disposables and also mechanical and electrostatic filters. Moreover, there are also different applications for filters in the various production steps, starting with materials handling down to waste water treatment.
A further complication in handling this market for a filter manufacturer with a broad product range is that a whole range of different corporate functions are involved in making decisions about a product or a supplier. Depending on the application, functions involved could be, besides purchasing, maintenance and shop floor people, HSE and environmental officers, product and quality managers, chemists and laboratory officers, and many more.
To create the highest possible customer benefit while still ensuring a decent own benefit, full range filter manufacturers often organize their sales efforts by adopting a key account management approach. When considering an organizational alteration of sales, e.g. from a regionally driven system to a key account management, the following aspects need to be considered:
- Total number of existing global accounts with similar decision making processes
- Individual customer knowledge superior to industry / segment knowledge
- Centralized or centrally influenced buying decisions
- Minor influence of local businesses
Although the food and beverage industries are highly fragmented and very heterogeneous, there are about 60 companies worldwide that could be managed by filter manufacturers using a global key account management. A very common challenge of a successful global account management is finding a best cost-benefit relation of the global account structure that is transparent and practicable. It is also very important that the global account managers have wide competencies and skills.
They need to bundle all the information that is needed internally for a successful customer relation and are externally the main point of contact for the global customer. A global account management usually influences all processes of such different areas as product, price, logistics and communication. A successful global account manager is also able to implement changes and strategies, new systems, processes and values. Handling those complex processes as well as information flows and communication is a critical success factor of the system.
If this system works out well, the created win-win situation closely links the customer to the filter supplier and offers opportunity for further growth in these markets.