Mike Burnett and John Drosos, principals at the Alexander Group, preview some recent Alexander Group research findings from go-to-market leaders in the BPO and Corporate Services space. This survey featured CEOs and heads of sales and marketing that oversee businesses, providing BPO services ranging from sales and customer experience to pure back-office operations down to HR and talent management services.
Mike Burnett: Hello. This is Mike Burnett, principal and co-leader of the business services practice here at the Alexander Group. Today I’m joined by my colleague John Drosos to preview some research we recently completed with go-to-market leaders in the BPO and Corporate Services space. This survey featured a healthy mix of CEOs and heads of sales and marketing that oversee businesses, providing BPO services ranging from sales and customer experience to pure back-office operations down to HR and talent management services. So with that introduction, John, let’s dive into a few of our key findings. First, one of the key areas we asked was what were growth expectations from these leaders?
John Drosos: Yeah, Mike, last year’s growth was pretty good, clocked in at 11% for this group. This year they were looking initially at close to 20% growth. So 19. They wound up being pretty aggressive, especially in light of the economic headwinds we’re seeing out there. Also interesting, when we asked how are you going to get this growth, a lot of companies mentioned long-term strategies, new market segmentation, talent life cycle, new technology. You’ve really got to have those kinds of strategies prepped ahead of time and they take time to bear fruit. So aggressive goals and I think probably if companies follow these strategies, they will see this growth. But maybe not this year.
Mike Burnett: Yeah. So with that being said, we oftentimes like to ask what’s going to be the biggest driver of growth for your business? Is it entering new markets, new products? Is it increasing new customer acquisition? What did we hear from the folks that participated in this round of the survey?
John Drosos: Yeah. Two things came out on top and they pretty much virtually tied. So one is retention. You’ve got to keep your top customers. You’ve got to keep them happy. So if you’ve got a customer that you’ve had for ten years and 10 to 20% of the business, which it can be for some smaller firms, you lose that customer, you’re not going to get your growth goal. You might even be flat or negative. Number two at the same time while you keep your customers is you’ve got to get new ones. So just simply new customer acquisition, which is very different. It requires different talent, a different strategy, and a new focus. And frankly, usually a lot more investment.
Mike Burnett: Now, John, you mentioned headwinds and some of the uncertainty in the market. What were some of the other challenges that leadership identified as part of the biggest challenge for them in terms of achieving those growth goals?
John Drosos: Yeah. So when we talk head wins, they’re definitely the ones that are affecting everyone and that we’re well aware of. But in particular, for this industry, there are things like market demand, changes in regulation, the way companies operate strategically. So when we talk about external market factors, that’s what they’re talking about. But also they pointed out things like pricing pressures, value propositions, and sales process and efficiencies. Among the top three, which is interesting for us in particular, was a lack of sales enablement tools and technology. So this is an area where companies are really seeing a lot of growth and profitability. If you can do it right, you can really get more out of your sales model. But that requires having a sales ops or sales revenue team in place. And that’s something that we emphasize with pretty much all of our clients.
Mike Burnett: Yeah. So I think one other area that was interesting that we dug deeper into as part of the survey was getting the corporate leadership’s perspective in terms of, what are your customers’ top priorities when they’re making a purchasing decision? What did we learn there?
John Drosos: Yeah, top three. Number one, speed of delivery. Number two, commitment to ESG and DEI initiatives. And number three, not surprisingly, pre-existing vendor or seller relationships-that still matters. Of these three, I think the top two that piqued our interest the most, so speed of delivery means you’ve got to prioritize your top customers. You can’t be everything to everybody, and you’ve got to know what they value from a sales and support process. On the DEI side, it means new sales talent and new commercial talent. Overall, hiring the right people. But more importantly, making sure that they can succeed. Your customers, you’ve got to represent your customer base, and that’s traditionally been difficult on the commercial side.
Mike Burnett: All right, John, thanks. And thank you, everyone, for tuning in. Please follow us on LinkedIn and visit our website at alexandergroup.com in order to learn more about some of our great upcoming events, as well as to request a complimentary briefing on this research, as well as other bodies of research that will be coming out with in the coming months. Thanks again.