Revenue Ops and the Modern CMO

June 5, 2019 Karen Steele

Gone are the days when the chief marketing officer (CMO) merely brainstormed ad campaigns or greenlit copy. Today’s CMO is a thought leader who touches just about every aspect of their company—and whose influence affects the bottom line. After all, aligning sales, marketing and other key functions is critical for driving revenue growth; however, you can’t get there through dumb luck. I find that many companies are still trying to figure out the new role of the CMO in today’s C-Suite with the rise of Revenue Ops, let alone how to secure great talent.

New tools, new role

The CMO’s purview once included the likes of mass campaigns, such as direct mail or radio advertising. Ad targeting now demands marketers zero in on their audience, often turning marketing into detailed data about customers’ backgrounds and experience.

The internet, online purchasing and web-based searches now mean businesses must watch their long-term perceived value by the customer—a role that can fall largely to the CMO. Companies position the customer at the center of strategy—and CMOs will be instrumental in bridging data and strategy. How do CMOs view revenue ops as a strategy? How will revenue ops evolve and where does the CMO fit? How is the CMO role changing?

First, understand that your company should look at all revenue points to set up operations to support revenue attainment across the entire customer lifecycle. Rev ops tends to include every part of the company that touches the customer, from service to sales and marketing. With an eye on revenue ops, the CMO must create growth strategies from finance to sales, help organizations create processes to handle the response companywide, and generally make organizations see the criticality of this position.

In short, the CMO is becoming pivotal in any business that wants to align goals with customers and seize more of its connection with them.

Short tenure

This whole attitude is new. A Korn Ferry Institute survey reported that the tenure of a CMO is the lowest in the C-suite titles, at an average of 3.6 years. This compares with the average tenure for a C-suite exec of 5.3 years. According to the survey, most CMOs can expect a place on the company’s executive committee and to report directly to the CEO, despite a frequent lack of clarity regarding the CMO role. This leads some to explore such alternative titles as “Chief Growth Officer” or “Customer Officer.”

Marketing has essentially evolved from being viewed by companies as a cost center to being seen as a business facilitator and manager in three key areas:

  1. Enterprise-wide, designing strategies to deliver profitable business growth through sales, marketing communication, innovation, and product design.
  2. Strategy, focusing on analytics and insight of the growth strategy with responsibilities in innovation, product design, and customer insight.
  3. Commercialization, focusing on sales and marketing communication that includes promotion, events, digital content creation, advertising, and social media.

As the marketing focus shifts toward the customer, the CMO’s communication becomes even more important, as do functions such as data-mining and analysis, to form a strategy. Marketing departments and their leaders must also understand the fundamentals of digital and its impact on brand awareness, leads, and revenue. CMOs must now know about, and have the staff to handle (if possible), technology, especially as it affects artificial intelligence. Other areas of knowledge include security, finance, and other non-marketing business facets.

These tools also help the modern CMO document value to the executive suite with a strategic viewpoint, customer empathy, measurement and analytical capabilities, and skilled financial management. The evolved CMO must technologically define the customer’s experience, understand the company’s technology stack, and get involved in how consumer data is collected.

Start with a customer-focused strategy

Today’s customer expects a personal experience from a company and that company’s background in just a few clicks. The technology to achieve this customer experience is here, but sometimes, companies miss implementing the necessary sales and marketing structure to capture and leverage the entire customer experience.

One organizational structure helping today’s CMO is a combined sales operations and marketing operations function (SMOPs) that takes a holistic approach to technology, process, and data across a complete customer lifecycle. Among the benefits are sharing of customer insights for real-time decision making across the organization, aligning sales and marketing into a revenue team, and improving the customer experience.

Finding the right fit

How do you find your CMO? A clear definition of the organizational marketing need and strategy, and a clear job description, are vital for those interviewing CMO candidates.

The key is to define the role to suit an individual organization and clearly understand how the CMO will interact across many departments. Marketingland’s 20 Traits Of Successful CMOs recommends looking for a candidate well-versed in all marketing channels, as well as a technical- and design-minded individual who seems to know how to acquire, engage, and retain customers. You’ll also need a visionary leader with an intuition about people and a skill to communicate - and a love of numbers is a plus.

Your company has a terrific opportunity to move beyond outdated ideas of what a chief marketer should be. With the right driver in this expanding C-suite role, your customers’ experience, brand, and profits can soar.

About the Author

Karen Steele

Karen is responsible for all aspects of product marketing, brand strategy, demand generation, customer and employee advocacy, and the customer journey. Prior to LeanData, Karen was Group Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Marketo, where she led the pioneering marketing automation company through its transformation from a public to private company and successfully introduced the New Marketo internally and externally.

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