The sales-driven CMO

Peter Mollins, VP of marketing at KnowledgeTree, tackles the sales-marketing divide

The most fundamental shift in marketing isn’t Inbound marketing, account-based marketing (ABM), digital marketing, content marketing or any other approach. These strategies and others are the result of the most important change to happen to B2B marketers: We’re now accountable for revenue.

That means that forward-leaning marketers aren’t satisfied by lead numbers or vanity metrics. Instead, these CMOs are driven by sales. They’re focused on what they can do to boost revenue across their organizations. They evaluate every marketing initiative through the lens of its impact on sales. And they are happy to measure themselves and their team by this impact.

Oh, the divide!

It’s no wonder there’s discord between sales and marketing — the famous divide. Salespeople and most marketers have different goals. And if the marketer’s goal doesn’t focus on revenue as the priority, the divide will persist. Different goals + different priorities = bad results.

Earlier in my marketing career, a software company I was with hosted an internal go-to-market strategy meeting. Everyone from the sales and marketing team attended. During one session, marketing had a promotional idea that they thought was a winner. But a sales leader disagreed and pointed out that the idea was destined to fail because marketing just didn’t understand the real needs of sales.

That moment crystallized for me the need for marketing to be as close to revenue as possible. Not just for direct impact, but also to understand what upstream initiatives will ultimately matter.

When a CMO and her team is focused on generating demand and enabling sales teams, the results can be stunning. So, that’s the aims of this blog series. I’ll look at approaches that sale-driven CMOs can take to generate more revenue and tangible results for their companies.

Here are some of the major themes that I’ll dive into in this series.

80% of salespeople add no value

Prospects are putting a lot on the line when they evaluate a B2B solution. They risk their own time and budget, not to mention internal political capital, when they choose to change. So when looking at vendors, who do they want to partner with — a ‘just checking in’ rep or one that adds value?

Value adding reps look for ways to help their prospects succeed. They are radically focused on the challenges prospects face and how to solve them. They are willing to challenge their prospects to help incite change. Their prospects see them as partners and resources.

But just one out of five reps are valued by their prospects. This is a massive opportunity for marketers to support sales teams. For this theme, I’ll look into approaches marketers can take to equip reps with the resources, content, data, and stories they need to deliver value to their prospects.

60% of the buyer journey is completed digitally

Buyers are more informed than ever before. They read content online. They review vendors’ websites. They ask peers for opinions on social media. They interact with salespeople via email and screen share. And they read reviews of solutions and best practices from peers. That’s why more than half of the buyer journey is completed digitally.

This new reality has become more apparent as the classic funnel has changed. A world where marketing cleanly passes leads to sales is dead. The linear conversion of leads to opportunities to won deals is no longer true. Instead, prospects come into the funnel, retreat, return, and generally don’t care to fit into your clean model.

This statistic is regularly misunderstood to mean that marketing is replacing sales. That’s wrong. Salespeople are as vital as ever for non-transactional sales. But now salespeople rely more than ever on marketing to support and nourish the prospect through the journey.

Considering this, I’ll examine approaches marketing can take to measure, support and advance leads throughout this new journey.

20 internal influencers affect the average B2B decision

There are two intertwined stats that are truly eyebrow raising. According to the CEB, more than five people per account have to OK a B2B purchase before it can go through. Additional analysis says that up to 20 people in a prospect account need to review a purchase before it can proceed.

That pretty much puts to rest the “champion” model of sales where you identify the VIP of your account and rely on her to drive the engagement to decision. Instead, marketers should look to strategies that can bring these five (or 20!) deciders and influencers into the tent. I’ll explore some of the emerging approaches here that help sales teams.

95% of buyers are not in-market (now)

Are you looking to buy a car in the next 6 months? How many of your colleagues are? Not too many — despite being constantly hit by offers for new cars. It’s the same idea for B2B products. Most CIOs are not currently looking to buy email filtering technology at this exact moment.

Of course you can convince them to prioritize that initiative over all others. But are you focusing resources on the right targets? Instead, if you could identify who is looking to buy right now, you could radically concentrate resources on people that want to buy, can buy and will buy. But how do you identify them?

With this theme, I’ll look at the idea of identifying and advancing your absolute best prospects.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, challenges, and comments as we start this blog series together!