Executives focusing on Commercial Investment, Marketing and People.
Recently, Alexander Group hosted a group of commercial leaders to discuss how they are adapting long-term growth plans considering accelerated industry growth, changing customer preferences, and the application of data and technology.
The group prefaced the discussion by admitting there are still pressing, near-term realities occupying significant mindshare as we emerge from the pandemic. Practical challenges include serving customers, maximizing plant capacity, and prioritizing the supply chain.
Notwithstanding, many have begun to look ahead. The community discussed the following areas of focus:
- Commercial Investment
1. Commercial Investment
67% of participants indicated that they are increasing their commercial investment by 3%+. While investment is spread across functions – marketing, sales, service and operations – the group agreed (75%+) that sales and service are being prioritized. Investments will not only include headcount but new capabilities such as value add services (e.g., IoT insights from instruments).
One participant commented, “Those that respond quickest will win.” The group cautioned against waiting too long to infuse the commercial organization with the resources need to capitalize on market trends.
70% of participants indicated that marketing was very important to achieving long-range growth plans however only 30% saw their current capabilities as effective or very effective. The group zeroed in on (2) priorities for their marketing function:
- Understand the Customer: invest in a contemporary understanding of value drivers, journeys and personas. Retool messaging and motions due to changing needs. Help the business protect the core and nurture new growth pathways.
- Move Beyond Virtual Events: while customers responded well in recent months, it is time to get creative with awareness and demand generation motions. Be focused, specific, personal and local. New capabilities such as KOL podcasts and sales development representatives (for lead generation and nurturing) were referenced.
The new growth plan does not just happen. It requires people with the right skills and enablement. The session wound down with a discussion about the value proposition needed to recruit and retain talent as well as the training and tools needed to get the most out of people resources.
- The Employee Value Proposition: new strategies are needed to win and retain talent in a world of scarce resources. Participants described a deeper set of programs employed to win the battle for talent. Examples included immersive onboarding (including job shadowing), proactive and engaged management coaching, formal career development, and flexible job formats (as many are not willing to relocate).
- Training: the community advocated for ensuring training resources were available on-demand, where and when they are needed. The group cited investments in skill based (on platforms like LinkedIn Learning), sales methodology (third-party as well as aggregating internal best practices from global teams), and workflow (small format modules covering each step) training. One participant shared that their mobile training platform received high levels of adoption and positive feedback from team members.
- Enablement: lab and customer site access are still limited for many. Virtual customer engagement is expected to persist. As one participant stated “people need to reinvent themselves” but they cannot do it on their own. Community members described the importance of fast-tracking digital roadmap progression to compete for mindshare, compress sales cycles and win more often. The group offered investment examples such as social media management tools, premium social media platform subscriptions for sales, and virtual service capabilities. Another participant described focused efforts to train senior leadership on the importance of modern ways of engaging with customers to secure funding.
While pressing needs may demand mindshare, those that get caught with their heads down will miss opportunities to capitalize on favorable market trends. The time is now to look ahead and revamp long-range plans. Ensure the commercial organization is getting the investment needed to capture share. Whether it is marketing, people or another area, make thoughtful investments to propel growth.
To learn more contact our practice leaders or attend one of our upcoming Life Science and Analytical Instrument virtual roundtable events.