Shifting Into Growth Gear

A survey of more than 250 CEOs shows business leaders are bracing for unprecedented growth in a post-Covid world—and a newly released report shows how they’re planning to achieve that.

Chief Executive’s reading of CEO confidence in future business conditions has been on the rise since hitting its 2020 trough in May, in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, and our forward-looking indicator is now at multi-year highs—a clear indication that CEOs are increasingly expecting steady growth over the coming months.

Experts from Alexander Group, a growth consultancy firm serving Global 2000 companies, predict unprecedented levels of growth in the near term, particularly in the technology and manufacturing sectors. Big-ticket investments were stalled due to the pandemic, but cost-cutting and massive fiscal and monetary infusions are expected to unleash a pent-up investment boom in construction, capital equipment and information technology. “How organizations respond to the post-pandemic world will guide the next three to five years of strategic growth,” reads a recent report co-produced by Alexander Group and Chief Executive Research.

According to data from an Alexander Group/Chief Executive survey of more than 250 business leaders conducted in December 2020, fully two-thirds of CEOs are counting on the acquisition of new customers to drive growth in 2021, 48 percent plan to increase capital expenditures, and 56 percent will add to their headcount. More specifically, 27 percent say they intend to add to their virtual (or inside) sales functions over the coming months, counting on virtual commerce to remain significant even post-vaccine.

Inside sales teams, often paired with integrated marketing functions, can be much more cost-effective and are increasingly being utilized, even for complex, high-ticket commercial and industrial sales. Sales specialists—focused on particular technologies or industries—are crucial for capturing new customer growth for innovative solutions and high-growth industry segments.

These trends seem to be further accentuated based on sector, with tech CEOs, for instance, adopting a much more aggressive stance on hiring for inside sales functions—64 percent are planning an increase compared to 29 percent for industrial manufacturers.

Business leaders who are not accounting for this new environment may be greatly underestimating the rapid changes in buying behaviors and customer access from digital innovations. It is not just about ecommerce but also a myriad of ways to interact with and engage customer and buyers. For instance, when sales are closed, service teams can also leverage digital platforms to prioritize service calls and, in many cases, automate significant parts of service calls. Increasingly, service teams and post-sales implementation teams can leverage digital tools to onboard and train new customers and users in a variety of product, service and software offerings—in particular XaaS, which can fuel rapid growth and predictable, long-term revenue streams.

We invite you to download a complimentary copy of our research report, which highlights our key findings and provides important actionable items to keep in mind when looking at a post-Covid business environment.

Download your complimentary copy >>

Melanie is research director for Chief Executive Group and research editor for Corporate Board Member and Chief Executive magazines. She has two decades of experience writing for the corporate and financial industry across Canada and the United States. She is based in Nashville, Tennessee.