Demand Gen Report: How has the B2B CMO role changed/evolved in recent years?
Joe Chernov: The role has broadened, considerably. It used to be the title given to the top marketer. Now it’s a blend of marketing, customer success, sales — in SaaS anyway — with a bit of CEO-whisperer thrown in for good measure. It’s still about helping generate revenue, but now it’s also about how that revenue is generated. The CMO plays a role in pipeline management and in customer retention. Historically the CMO role hasn’t been much of a steppingstone to a CEO post. But if this trend toward a broader function continues, that’ll change.
DGR: As expectations for driving revenue and growth increase, does that put CMOs at risk as potential scapegoats for failing to hit sales milestones?
Chernov: It’s much more than that. As the surface area of the role expands, the potential to be held accountable for a shortfall in pipeline, bookings and retention increases.
DGR: In addition to increased pressure to drive revenue and show ROI, what are some of the other top challenges that CMOs are facing?
Chernov: These challenges aren’t new. Hiring, balancing and alignment have always been needs. What’s different now is that CMOs need to hire for roles they’ve never hired for before, like developers or customer advocacy specialists. They’re working with data sources they’ve never worked with before, like product usage data. So, it’s all those things you said, but no longer restricted to go-to-market.
DGR: What do you see as the top priorities for B2B CMOs in the coming years?
Chernov: I think the biggest challenge will be the need to not only help source more business for the company, but source business from customers with a high propensity to renew. It won’t be enough to drive revenue. CMOs will be expected to drive the right revenue from the right buyers.
DGR: Incorporating tech and aligning it with strategy has become a bigger imperative for marketers, but has the approach to technology changed for CMOs?
Chernov: If the CMO role plays out the way I imagine it will, I suspect we’ll see CMOs distance themselves from tech, relying on members of their team to be the technical experts. Software already enters the enterprise at a user level. The CMO will need to trust their team much more when it comes to tech selection.
DGR: Which technologies do you see as the top priorities for B2B CMOs over the next year or two?
Chernov: It will come down to whichever technology can provide the CMO with reliable, differentiated data upon which to make decisions. This is one of the reasons why I joined Pendo. CMOs aren’t taking advantage of arguably the cleanest, most reliable data in their organization: how customers are using their products, which are thriving or struggling and what usage patterns say about successful customers and those likely to churn. To me, this is what’s going to matter in the next couple of years.