Four Risks Growth Leaders Must Consider for 2022, Part Two: Disproportionate Budget Allocation to ‘Feet on the Street’

17 Nov 21

Despite great external conditions and careful planning — a strong macroeconomic environment, big bets with aligned commercial capacity, and increased investment in digital marketing and selling — SBI Research found that even high-growth CEOs expressed uncertainty around their teams’ ability to execute their growth plans. Our research surfaced four key risks and aligned recommendations that all growth leaders should consider as they finalize their 2022 plans and shift to execution.

CEOs are increasing sales and marketing investment more than any other functional area in 2022, and most GTM leaders are funneling a significant portion of that investment to quota-carrying reps. However, where typical performers are on pace with winning companies when it comes to investment in people-intensive areas such as inside sales, field sellers, and key account reps, high-growth companies are much more likely to invest in areas that boost productivity and help teams work more efficiently: digital selling and enablement.

difference in percent of GTM leaders planning increased investment

Digital selling and enablement innovation can support greater productivity from both new and existing hires by shifting capacity to digital channels and delivering a superior buying experience from your customers’ point of view. While the pandemic altered B2B buying drastically, we’ve found that most companies have a long way to go before they can claim a digital buying experience. Most of the typical-growth companies represented in this research have taken their typical sales process and dropped it into Zoom. 

To assess the quality of your own digital selling capability, leaders should audit their companies’ buying journeys and encourage their teams to double down in digital selling tactics to accelerate results in 2022:

  • Digital content and tools.

    Sales and marketing teams should partner together to evaluate how effectively content supports digital buying journeys and where additional assets might support buyer progress toward a purchase. For example, diagnostic tools and benchmarking data can motivate buyers relatively early on in their journeys, while the data these tools generate help tailor marketing engagement efforts and seller interactions. Buying guides help frame the key capabilities required for a solution and lead buyers to favor one vendor over another.
  • Data-driven intelligence.

    Investments in data & analytics can help organize and focus seller time and energy, arming them with insights around which buyers to prioritize and why, what sales play/tactics to run, which digital experiences or content assets to highlight for sellers, and how buyers have engaged with the supplier to-date. And as companies aggregate account- and contact-level data, it can reveal detailed insight about the buying group, customer journey, and potential gaps that reps may need to quickly fill.
  • Clear and consistent buyer and seller experiences.

    Sales enablement leaders must help both buyers and sellers navigate the many disruptions in B2B purchasing. For buyers, their efforts should focus on aligning buying messages and tools across multichannel purchase experiences, and for sellers, enablement must simplify rep experiences, offering fewer entry points to data and tools and aligning seller resources to their daily workflow.

Talent acquisition versus productivity improvement may be an “and” and not an “either/or” scenario for many organizations. However, they go hand in hand. If plans and budgets account for more ‘feet on the street”, this will take time given current market conditions. Therefore, current teams must produce at best-practice levels — approximately two-thirds of reps should be at quota. If your organization isn’t meeting those targets, begin with productivity. Digital selling, sales enablement, and revenue operations all represent high-potential levers for boosting sales capacity. If additional resources are required, talent acquisition and increased goals may be the right path, with CFO and CEO review and prudent capital allocation.

To learn about additional risks facing commercial leaders in 2022, click here to read our full report.

"Four Risks Growth Leaders Must Consider for 2022" is a four-part series from SBI Research. Join us each week for a deep dive into each of the risks outlined in our recent report.

  1. Unrealistic assumptions about talent
  2. Disproportionate budget allocation to ‘feet on the street’
  3. CX Initiatives that are no more than lip service
  4. Too much agility