Demand Gen Report: How has the B2B CMO role changed/evolved in recent years?
Jen Spencer: We’ve all seen how the role of a B2B CMO has evolved from being brand-centric to demand generation-centric when we look back over the last ten to fifteen years. More recently, the responsibilities and pressures that B2B CMOs face now includes technology assessment (i.e.., do we really need this?) and adoption (sometimes company-wide).
DGR: As expectations for driving revenue and growth increase, does that put CMOs at risk as potential scapegoats for failing to hit sales milestones?
Spencer: Today’s B2B CMO is already at risk of becoming the scapegoat for an organization failing to hit sales milestones and that’s why true collaboration between sales and marketing leadership is so important. Sales and marketing need to work together as a revenue team — this includes winning together and being challenged together.
DGR: In addition to increased pressure to drive revenue and show ROI, what are some of the other top challenges that CMOs are facing?
Spencer: CMOs are not only responsible for driving revenue and showing marketing ROI, but also recruiting talent — not just for marketing. While the marketing department doesn’t own talent acquisition overall, it’s undeniable that a company’s brand, voice and vision are instrumental in today’s highly competitive talent game. Every leader I meet — whether marketing, sales, customer success, engineering — names talent acquisition as a primary challenge. Marketing plays a significant role in the talent acquisition story and I wouldn’t be surprised if high growth organizations start developing marketing KPIs around this aspect of the business. I know I’m regularly looking at our conversion rates of qualified applicants for roles at SmartBug.
DGR: What do you see as the top priorities for B2B CMOs in the coming years?
Spencer: While CMOs will always be focused on customer acquisition, in the coming years, CMO priorities will expand to include more customer evangelism. Customer marketing has always been important, but in the past, we didn’t have the data to support “delight” initiatives. They sounded like a “nice to have.” Today, we can see how much revenue existing customers are driving both from upsells and cross-sells, as well as referrals. We are much more attuned to how much churn is impacting our businesses and we have a better sense of how much it costs us to acquire, onboard, activate and retain customers.
DGR: Incorporating tech and aligning it with strategy has become a bigger imperative for marketers, but has the approach to technology changed for CMOs?
Spencer: I’m starting to see a bit of a slowdown in “tech acquisition,” and I think that’s a good thing. For a while there, it seems CMOs got really excited about the potential of cool new tools without building out the strategy, processes or content that would be needed to fuel the tech and make it work for the business. Some of this is the result of poor budget planning where marketing teams had to so they pulled the trigger on new tech a bit too early out of fear that the budget would disappear the following quarter.
DGR: Which technologies do you see as the top priorities for B2B CMOs over the next year or two?
Spencer: The types of technology that B2B CMOs should prioritize are the ones that will help them scale an already proven (and documented) process. For example, your first step in building an ABM strategy should not be to buy ABM software. Instead, test the theory on a small scale, find the places to optimize and scale, then use your findings to identify the best-fit ABM tech that meets the needs of your strategy.