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How can you drive growth through a barrage of change?


October 14, 2022

Last month, at the Chief Revenue Officer Summit in San Francisco, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion—Grow Revenue Through the Barrage of Change. On the panel were three front-office visionaries: Dawn Anderson, senior managing director and customer growth lead at Accenture; Ketan Karkhanis, executive vice president and general manager of Sales Cloud at Salesforce; and Stephen Diorio, managing director at Revenue Enablement Institute.

Together, we explored some of the most pressing challenges, both external and internal, front-office transformation leaders now face. We discussed some of the ways organizations are adapting to change. We also considered opportunities to rethink the “who” and “how” of front-office management.

External forces leaders are navigating include inflation, the pandemic, the quest for racial justice, political divisiveness and the climate crisis. On the internal challenges, Dawn and I shared some findings from Accenture’s quarterly survey of 3,200 CXOs:


Say that over the next 12 months addressing skills shortages and retaining talent will be top priorities for their organization. Investing in people is a significant driver of sustained growth. Source: Accenture Research, CXO Survey, Wave 6, N=3200, June 2022


Are beginning to feel the pinch of price constraints. Source: Accenture Research, CXO Survey, Wave 6, N=3200, June 2022


Said the biggest impediment to growth and innovation is functional silos that exist within their organization. Source: Accenture Research, CXO Survey, Wave 4, N=3200, August 2021

Becoming people-centric to sustain growth

The panelists agreed that while technology enablement is critical, people need to be prioritized. Front-office leaders are evaluating their teams to understand if they have the right talent with the right skills. Leaders also need to assess how to help develop optimal skills as the sales function makes the seemingly permanent shift to greater virtual engagement. (What’s effective when selling over lunch doesn’t necessarily translate to selling via video conferencing!)

Whether adjusting pricing or tweaking territory alignment, leaders need the ability to lean into data-driven insights to make decisions more quickly and effectively.

Additionally, we explored the idea that front-office executives are no longer leading sellers; they’re managing a selling system. Yes, there are still salespeople on the front lines with customers. But there are a lot many more people behind the scenes who are just as important as front-office executives in the lead-to-close process.

When a selling system is digital and data driven, it can achieve and maintain readiness even in the face of external uncertainty or disruption. Whether adjusting pricing or tweaking territory alignment, leaders need the ability to lean into data-driven insights to make decisions more quickly and effectively.

Key strategic and tactical opportunities to drive growth

Panelists talked about the potential for a single C-level executive to own the customer experience. While many organizations have combined their sales and marketing functions, very few have appointed a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO).

In fact, companies today may have as many as 30 or 40 different teams influencing the customer experience—with just as many technology systems supporting their work. A strategic imperative for the CRO or any other executive overseeing some or all of an organization’s front-office operations would be to rationalize and orchestrate those resources.

Of course, there’s no need to wait for a CRO to begin that process. Sometimes, smart tactics can drive strategy. One panelist recommended focusing on reducing process and technology “clutter.” Itemize every step (and each supporting system) required from lead capture to close, and then start decluttering. Consider choosing two processes per quarter and requiring one of two options for each: eliminate or automate. Similarly, for tech systems, start working to consolidate systems so sellers are looking at just one “pane of glass” every day.

Invest in continuous improvement

Above all, the panelists agreed that driving growth is no longer about growing at any cost. Front-office executives need to drive efficient growth. To that end, panelists recommended a focus on building deep, enduring relationships that drive Customer Lifetime Value. And given the barrage of change we’re all navigating, it’s never been more important to build an organizational model with processes, systems and data designed for agility.

We don’t know when or how another disruption will affect our businesses. However, what we do know is that it’s time to learn how to read and respond to signals of change.


Chris Hergesell

Managing Director – B2B Sales and Commerce, North America