Gartner CSO & CRO Priorities & Pitfalls Webinar: Top 5 Takeaways

By Garrett Rutledge
December 15th, 2021
The recent Gartner webinar “CSO & CRO Priorities and Pitfalls: Reach Growth Targets in 2022” provides critical insight into the top priorities of CSO’s and CRO’s, their plans to hit growth targets, potential challenges to those plans, and how to mitigate them as we head into 2022. With that being said, let’s look at the top 5 takeaways from the webinar.
#1 - Growth is the Biggest Priority for 2022
CSOs were given a list of initiatives and asked to rank their priority levels heading into 2022. The top three initiatives that were given neither a “High Priority” or “Critical Priority” ranking were: improving pipeline creation and sales development (72%), increasing returns on key/strategic/ global accounts (65%), and account management and account-based strategies (62%). Ahead of 2022, CSOs are prioritizing growth first and foremost, and at least for the time being, have placed less emphasis on transformation, which headlined the top of the priority list last year. Its clear leaders are most concerned with improving their sales processes and critical relationship development amidst a future that remains uncertain and unclear.
#2 - People, Process, & Tech are Essential for Growth, but Come with Challenges
Without emphasizing people, process, and tech, it’s unlikely that sustainable growth will be achieved. Yet, even with such emphasis, significant pitfalls remain for each element. For people, there’s a “war for talent,” and leaders are struggling to satisfy their talent needs. On the process side, key account programs and strategies repeatedly fall short. Finally, on the tech side of things, leaders see that sales tech investments haven't delivered expected returns. The promise and interest are there for leaders with tech, but remorse over previous, failed decisions loom overhead.
#3 - Talent-Related Challenges are Perhaps the Biggest Obstacle to Growth
The pandemic has caused massive shifts in recruitment, hiring, and retention of employees. A third of CSOs polled said that it has been challenging to recruit sales talent. The time to fill roles and seller attrition rates have increased significantly. Despite a 64% increase in job openings, there was also a 30% increase in turnover rates from November 2020 to July 2021. Since the pandemic, many workers have been reconsidering their careers and the role work plays in their lives. The previous challenges have hurt productivity levels, overloaded recruiters, lowered employee morale, increased burnout, and have generally placed significant pressure on HR. 4 out of the 5 top drivers of seller motivation heading into 2022 are non-monetary. Obstacles centered around talent present significant barriers to growth.
#4 - Key Accounts Aren’t Performing as they Should
65% of CSOs believe it’s a critical priority to get increased returns on key accounts. However, 95% expect a higher growth rate for key accounts than other accounts. Most organizations are falling short of meeting their key account quotas, and 68% believe their organizational practices for growing key accounts are ineffective. It’s suggested organizations adjust their approach from a sales-centric key account strategy to an enterprise-managed key account strategy. For the latter, sales leaders and functional leaders will discuss how growth can be achieved for key accounts versus key account managers focusing on what the organization needs to do for them to deliver for key accounts. Collaborative design, cross-functional dialogue, and tech-enabled resourcing accountability are essential elements of key account strategies for2022.
#5 - Leaders are Conflicted When it Comes to Tech
Leaders are torn with technology. 82% believe tech is important/very important to achieving targets, and only 28% are satisfied with their current sales tech stack. However, just 39% are likely to evaluate new sale technology vendors in 2022. Each organization has to evaluate its challenges and processes in detail and determine the role technological elements play. Even so, a critical aspect of successful tech roll-out and adoption is ensuring the tech can flow seamlessly into existing workflows and that there are technology advisors in place to train and support employees in using the tech properly. It’s evident sales leaders understand the value of technology and even believe their current stack isn’t sufficient. Still, they remain wary because of previous, remorseful investments that didn’t quite pan out.  

All-in-all, sales leaders are clearly adapting to the times and the air of uncertainty that remains. As 2022 rolls in, expect growth to be an essential focal point and the drivers of said growth to be talent, key accounts, and technology.