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What’s happening to salaries?

November 17, 2021

“We just can’t find the right people.”

In conversation after conversation, executives tell me they are struggling to fill posts and retain staff in their commercial teams. One consequence is that salaries are increasing – and benefit packages being re-evaluated. In the United States, I am hearing about 30% being a ‘normal’ level of salary escalation. In the UK, the number seems to be more conservative – perhaps 20%.

Complete the 2021 WorldCC salary survey and test your position here.

But before we all get carried away, it is important to check the details. These increases are far from universal. They apply to people with some critical skills, or perhaps those who exhibit the ability to re-skill, fast. While the basic attributes of good procurement staff, lawyers and contract / commercial managers are in relatively high demand, it is those who bring demonstrable value to the demands of today’s fast-changing markets who command a premium.

So who are those ‘special people’? Certainly those with the know-how to support a shift to digitization are among the elite. Not surprisingly, very few have that experience on their resume. Similarly, people who demonstrate a history of delivering value (versus negotiated savings) are prominent – especially in an environment where Procurement teams are fighting not for cost reductions, but to limit cost increases. Strong, proven supply chain skills are at a premium, especially if they demonstrate an understanding of how to reduce supply risk and develop supplier loyalty.

On the sell-side, value delivery is also high on the agenda, especially when combined with experience of more complex or innovative delivery models – for example, outcome and performance-based agreements. Being able to demonstrate strong client relationship skills is also increasingly a plus.

Ultimately, the big money is going to those who can demonstrate their contribution to rapid change and an ability to cope with market volatility. Commercial capability is under stress in many organizations. They are moving fast to streamline data flows, introduce new contract models, improve cross-functional collaboration and develop more adaptive market relationships – and they need people who can help them get there.

The WorldCC 2021 salary survey is providing insight to these trends and showing us which industries and geographic regions are leading the way. If you want to understand more – or test where you stand in the salary ranks – complete the survey at Please note that at this time, the survey is focused on a limited set of countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States) – others will follow shortly.

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