The Changing Role Of The CMO
Sales & Marketing

The Changing Role Of The CMO

Chief Marketing Officer at Highspot, the sales enablement platform that increases the performance of sales teams.

The day job of the chief marketing officer (CMO) in the B2B space isn’t what it used to be.

In years past, brand favorability, thought leadership and demand generation were at the top of the priority list. Success was measured by the number of leads generated. Now, with growing economic uncertainty, the focus is shifting. CEOs and heads of sales expect CMOs to play a more direct role in driving revenue and retaining customers.

What makes this interesting is that sales today is harder than ever. According to a 2018 report from Salesforce (via Forbes), 57% of reps missed their quotas the previous year. This reflects a tale as old as time—several all-star reps carry the team quarter after quarter, while the majority of your salespeople scrape by. And whether a business has five salespeople or 5,000, the reality is that most companies don’t have the fundamentals in place for CMOs and heads of sales to operate as a unified team to drive consistent revenue. The missed opportunity cuts deep in today’s economy where the premium on driving efficient growth and customer retention is higher than ever.

Now imagine: What if 80% of your sales team demonstrated the expertise and execution of your top 20%? I believe unlocking the potential of your sales team requires that the CMO focuses more marketing time and resources on partnering with sales leaders to enable the entire sales team to succeed, not just the high-performers, throughout the full sales funnel.

This is a mindset shift and should become a new North Star. When teams achieve it, this approach can yield stronger growth outcomes. According to Forrester, “when an organization’s sales, marketing and product functions are aligned, that organization achieves 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability.”

The Three Imperatives

There are dozens of books on how to achieve a higher level of sales and marketing alignment for consistent revenue growth by authors who have done exceptional research and thinking. But I wanted to share three simple, impactive steps that CMOs can implement quickly to help achieve the performance described above.

1. Go Beyond “Shared Goals”

Common goals are something most sales and marketing leaders claim to have but that not all effectively act on. This comes as no surprise given that the two teams often have different growth horizons and historically operate at different stages of the buyer’s journey. But it doesn’t have to be this way. What I’ve seen from winning teams are two repeatable best practices.

• Shared scorecard: It’s not enough to have a shared dashboard for the top-line growth targets; sales and marketing need a single source of truth for detailed targets on, for example, pipeline growth and conversion to show where there are potential gaps at every stage of pipeline generation.

• Seller confidence surveys: Sales and marketing leadership should jointly author a questionnaire that can shine the light on rep confidence in your pricing, differentiation, their negotiation skills and more. Teams can then align on improving areas that drive higher performance.

2. Develop A System Of Insights

Instead of routinely relying on the top 20% of reps who always hit quota, shift your focus to the 60% to 80%. Unlocking these reps’ ability to hit even a few incremental points of quota attainment could mean big revenue increases. The best starting point is to create a shared dataset of what works so you can scale those winning behaviors across the team.

• Conduct win/loss interviews: Conduct calls with your buyers to get a better view of the seller behaviors that are most closely aligned with closes and wins.

• Invest in “deal forensics”: Capture trends on what works throughout the buyer’s journey, from discovery to price negotiation. Recording your calls is key here, as is offering personalized buyer experiences. If done properly, these deal forensics tactics can provide sales and marketing with shared analytics on the repeatable approaches that can increase win rates.

3. Co-Create Your Narrative With Sales

We often see a chasm between the marketing “vision story” of the company and what reps say on the front line every day. Marketers spend hours creating messaging that sales never uses—because we’re talking to very different audiences. The end result is often a diluted brand message and buyer confusion.

What companies need is a shared narrative that the people using it co-create. Consider holding a messaging workshop that brings together the CEO, sales and marketing leaders, and front-line reps to craft a single narrative that scales across the CEO’s keynote, your website copy and the sales content reps pitch every day. When stakeholders create this together as one team, there’s a high level of buy-in and, ultimately, a cohesive and consistent narrative that resonates with your customers.

The Brave New World Of Marketing

As the business landscape continues to evolve, so will the CMO’s role. Right now, it’s our job to ensure our companies thrive through uncertainty by becoming critical co-pilots to our sales leaders. Revenue growth requires consistent execution across the entire revenue team—and marketing is here to help drive it.


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https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2022/09/09/growth-or-bust-the-changing-role-of-the-cmo/