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  • March 25, 2022

Three Immediate Actions for CSOs in Response to Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

As Russia's war on Ukraine enters its second month, Gartner says chief sales officers worldwide have an important role to play in response to Russian aggression.

In a new report, the analyst firm outlined three immediate actions CSOs should prioritize to ensure that commercial efforts are aligned with their companies' broader responses to the war.

"As B2B organizations plan their responses to a highly variable situation, CSOs should pay particular attention to actions within their immediate control to both acknowledge the impacts and pivot commercial strategy," said Craig Riley, chief of research in the Gartner Sales practice. "Sales leaders should collaborate with marketing and communications to adjust and/or pause commercial messages that may appear to either internal or external stakeholders as inappropriate, unempathetic, or ill-timed."

The three immediate actions CSOs should prioritize are as follows:

1. Communication Support to the Entire Sales Ecosystem.

CSOs must work with senior leaders to establish proactive lines of communication for providing direct, clear, consistent, and up-to-date messages to employees and sales teams. This includes supporting and reinforcing human resources and internal communications efforts to provide updates on directly impacted employees and build awareness of ways to indirectly, but personally, support ongoing humanitarian efforts. CSOs must take an active role in reinforcing and reminding sellers about ways they can help.

Along with this, CSOs must focus communications efforts on providing sellers with updates on commercial operations. This includes impacts on and decisions around quotas, salaries, and client outreach. "Sellers will continue to turn to CSOs for updates on operations. CSOs must remember that authenticity is critical," Riley said.

2. Collaborate to Adapt Commercial Messaging.

To ensure public statements and commercial strategies align, sales, marketing, customer service, and communications leaders should take a close look at customer-facing messages on social media and in prospecting and email campaigns to identify any that might appear inappropriate or ill-timed.

CSOs should pay close attention to and create guardrails around messages crafted by sellers and/or sales development representative teams. "Suspending or pausing commercial activity is never a decision commercial leaders make lightly," Riley said. "But it is better to err on the side of caution and temporarily halt outreach than risk a poorly timed commercial message that sours clients' or prospects' perception of the company and its values."

3. Mitigate Impacts of Supply Disruptions.

Working with supply chain leaders, CSOs should locate and quantify all product inventories, then conduct a vulnerability assessment and create scenario plans to assess potential impacts. Scenario plans should be used to assess the potential impacts to sales channels, indirect partners, and inventory levels and to estimate the company's ability to meet current and future demand.

"While there are few supply chain disruptions a CSO can stop, a well-developed plan can mitigate the impact of disruptions and enable sales teams to quickly adjust as necessary and keep clients up to date" Riley explained.

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