Demand Gen Report: How has the B2B CMO role changed/evolved in recent years?
Jeanne Hopkins: In gigs as CMO, it has always been my goal to attach to revenue in some capacity. Having a sense of which marketing programs are contributing to revenue is critical as is the ability to align with product and sales channels to maximize growth no matter the stage of the company — early, mid, late or mature.
DGR: As expectations for driving revenue and growth increase, does that put CMOs at risk as potential scapegoats for failing to hit sales milestones?
Hopkins: Great question and the unfortunate answer is, “it depends.” Failing to hit sales milestones — revenue, customers acquired, NPS — are all areas that the company needs to look at holistically. What marketing team is going to put their head on the block without having some management capability of the sales organization? Of course, this is all dependent upon the executive team seeing alignment between sales, product and marketing in order to drive growth. Typically, the “silo-fication” of these responsibilities in a company allow decisions to be made separately and not cohesively. By leveraging customers as a basis for alignment and figuring out why your product was bought or not bought via the consistent cadence of a Voice of the Customer meeting is a good way to eliminate silos and gain a unified focus on what matters.
DGR: In addition to increased pressure to drive revenue and show ROI, what are some of the other top challenges that CMOs are facing?
Hopkins: Strategy is always an issue and should be combined with go-to-market planning. Ultimately, the biggest challenge CMOs face is execution. Without the right team or strategies, being able to execute against a plan becomes almost impossible. Ultimately, the prioritization of your year, quarter and month all comes down to what can be accomplished against what needs to be done.
DGR: What do you see as the top priorities for B2B CMOs in the coming years?
Hopkins: Building teams that can continue moving forward without day-to-day management. Having a team that you can delegate to, rather than them delegating up to you, is critical. Being able to step back and see the forest for the trees is challenging and why B2B CMOs need to attend conferences to learn from their peers and to teach or mentor others. Ultimately, without continuous learning, your efforts will not result in the numbers you need.
DGR: Incorporating tech and aligning it with strategy has become a bigger imperative for marketers, but has the approach to technology changed for CMOs?
Hopkins: There are technologies that every CMO should test — if they have the right team in place that can handle disruption and experimentation. Looking at tech is critical to staying in sync with your market and investment in standardized tools is important. A balance between what is available and leveraging your existing tech stack is challenging in the best of times. As CMO, your role on regular cadence should be to look at your tech stack, review with your team, determine if the tech is viable (or not) and move forward. Having a team member or two regularly getting demos from vendors is important just to have something that may make a difference in revenue velocity.
DGR: Which technologies do you see as the top priorities for B2B CMOs over the next year or two?
Hopkins: Helping sales team members to create their own nurture streams — ones that work for them in their own words — is very important as is almost all things around sales enablement as well as competitive analysis. Customer success stories, reviews, testimonials and referrals are all critical in the B2B space. Watching and learning from what competitors are saying about your product offering is valuable for sales.