Alexander Group recently surveyed senior European revenue, sales and operations leaders to assess their stance on growth, strategies and investments heading for the rest of 2022 and into 2023.
Four key commercial model insights emerged from the survey:
Leaders can use these insights to better understand how top business-to-business commercial organizations are prioritizing investments this year and beyond as they strive for higher profitability and growth. Watch the video and read the transcript to learn more.
Hannah Ressler: My name is Hannah Ressler, and I am an analyst here at Alexander Group. I am joined today by Jamie Riley, a principal out of our London office and the leader of our European region. Jamie and I want to discuss our key findings from our most recent European Sales Pulse Survey. Jamie, the first thing I wanted to ask you about was around the revenue growth expectations.
Jamie Riley: Thanks for having me. Let’s start with the growth numbers: these are a little counterintuitive. If you look at [the effects of] inflation, supply chain problems, and political conflicts, these will tell you that companies should be reserved in their growth numbers. However, the reported survey data [defies] that. For our clients, this is the tail end of [years of] planning; companies have had a mid-term growth goal over the past 3 to 5 years, and they lost momentum in at least one or two of those years. This year is really where the “make up” for the pandemic flatness is coming through. [These growth goals] are more about meeting the commitments that have been made to ownership, be that public or private ownership, for growth over an extended period, rather than just about growth in 2022.
Hannah Ressler: Companies reported they were planning to increase headcount significantly in revenue and sales operations and they were also prioritizing investments around digital technology. This is a trend that AGI has recognized in other surveys as well. Jamie, is there a relationship between these specialized roles and digital technology? And how are they playing into this growth?
Jamie Riley: I will reiterate your point that these are global trends – this is happening in B2B revenue growth all over the world. The link to the conversation we had just a moment ago around growth goals is investments in “scaled growth” models. If you define digital in a way that includes programmatic inside sales, social marketing, etc., you’re really looking at ways to meet aggregated buyers in an efficient way, and revenue operations is critical to executing on those motions. You must be able to follow a buyer through their journey at the different omnichannel touchpoints and being able to connect that data is critically important. We’re seeing more investment in data management and in the tooling that allows us to have a 360-degree view of our customers. It’s really about driving those scaled revenue motions to get that high revenue growth rather than going out to add to the old revenue-per-rep model.
Also, this is less a decision about whether companies should do something. In Europe, the question is not just what, but where? Do we invest at the edges? Do we think about replicating revenue operations in-country? Is it a regional function? Once you start down a path of designing these things locally or regionally or centrally, it’s hard to undo that decision effectively without going back to the drawing board. The real question in Europe is do we deploy these functions at the edges or at the center?
Hannah Ressler: On average, companies were reporting that their seller headcount turnover would decrease by almost half in this upcoming year. How are companies planning to reconcile this push towards growth and investing, while also facing a smaller overall talent pool?
Jamie Riley: The good news story is that turnover is coming down. We’re no longer having to fight so hard just to maintain the status quo and keep people in their chairs. To your point, though, where are those individuals going to come from? How are companies going to win in a competitive environment for talent? It’s no longer just about the pay plan – companies are talking about other benefits, equity, or career pathing. Companies need to prove the ways they are valuable beyond just compensation.
Hannah Ressler: We asked companies how much time they estimated their sellers would be selling virtually in 2022. Most responded and said that their sellers would spend 25% or less of their total time virtually selling – meaning sellers are being pushed back out into the field. Is there a reason for this or are there any specific anecdotes you can share around this?
Jamie Riley: There are a few things happening here that make the European environment different than what we’re seeing happening in the U.S. because the data in the U.S. is showing more maintenance around the virtual selling environment. First, European companies don’t have the ability to pivot their sellers’ jobs from outside to inside as easily as we might in the U.S. If you pair this reality with the higher pay levels for outside sales jobs, European companies have already invested in getting in front of customers. Also, there is a real premium put on face-to-face engagement and relational selling. Ultimately, we see sales leaders feeling like they need to get their return out of what they’ve invested in the outside sales team.
A second important question is how do we blend the benefits of a virtual environment, from a time and productivity point of view? I can simply take more meetings in a day when I’m sitting behind my desk, then I can when I need to travel from A to B. Going forward, we will see a bifurcation – some jobs will lean more virtual, some more in-person. If we were to ask this question again in 24 months, we would see a more a nuanced answer.
Hannah Ressler: Thank you, Jamie, for taking the time to share these insights today. If you were a viewer and you are interested in learning more, please visit us at our website at www.alexandergroup.com.