14 Articles Every CMO Should Read

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post “The Myth that Marketing Automation Reveals Buyers’ Journeys” that explained there was increasing consensus among analysts, academics and consultants about changes in the buyer’s journey and the mandate for vendors to adapt to those changes in order to grow. Consolidating the research in one place demonstrates the flood of voices urging vendors to align with the customer, break down silos and bridge marketing and sales departments. Below is a collection of reading materials every marketing executive should sift through. Customer Centricity • A study by Booz & Company found that companies that offered valuable customization in a cost-effective way outperformed their peers in revenue growth two-to-one and had profit margins 5 to 10 percent higher than competitors. • A Forrester report on content marketing emphasized that the right content “requires a deep understanding of the buyers, their information needs, and their content sourcing preferences.” • An article in the International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management recommends an approach where “all business processes and all individuals are focused on identifying and meeting the needs of the customer.“ • Forrester has published a wealth of research aligned with the recommendations we give at New Business Strategies, including reports like “Transform To An Experience-Driven Organization” and “Become Customer-Centric, Service-Focused, And Automated.” • Forrester analyst Ronald Rogowski wrote a post urging readers to improve the digital customer experience. Forrester has also written reports about webinars, social media and other aspects of marketing and how to align them with the buyer’s journey. Marketing & sales alignmentHubSpot wrote a good post about overcoming the blame game between marketing and sales with open communication and more accountability. • One of my own blogs last year offers three metrics to measure the degree of sales and marketing alignment within your organization. • A report by Oracle says the friction between marketing and sales has gotten “cliché” and found that a lack of communication was at its heart. • Research by CSO Insights and IDC have identified four problems with a lack of marketing and sales alignment: longer sales cycles, missed quotas, lower productivity and less sales efficiency. (source) • A study by The Red Herring found that sales and marketing alignment was ranked a nine or ten on an importance scale of 10. (source) Breaking down silos • According to an article in HBR, executives identify silos as the top inhibitor of innovation, but silos can only be overcome if executives can embrace change. • Businessweek provided an overview of silos and some common approaches to overcoming them. • Forrester’s 2012 Tech Marketing Planning Guidance noted that marketing hasn’t made the drastic changes that are needed, because each year’s plan is based on last year’s marketing strategy. • IBM’s 2012 State of Marketing Survey called upon marketers to expand our role in the customer experience and break down silos.

Chief Revenue Officer: A Failed Experiment or an Evolutionary Step?

The clash between marketing and sales departments has fostered the growing popularity of a new position – the Chief Revenue Officer – to bring the finger-pointing under wraps and align the two functions under shared revenue goals.   In theory, the CRO role makes sense. It allows the CEO to delegate marketing and sales alignment to someone with experience under both functions to optimize the teams and manage differing charters, personalities and performance metrics. Many Chief Executive Officers have risen through the sales ranks. They may not fully understand the charter of marketing and are prone to take sales’ side in arguments, instead of creating an environment for collaboration.   In the best of cases, Chief Revenue Officers have gotten sales and marketing to stop blaming each other for lost revenue opportunities and created a customer-focused attitude, aligning both departments with customers rather than lead numbers and superficial metrics.   But in most cases CROs have made matters worse. Instead of leading both functions to a shared, common-sense vision of serving the customer, they inevitably play mediator between two warring sides. Like the CEOs before them, the favor of the CRO is won by sales, who has a more direct way of measuring their influence on revenues. The CRO role has developed into giving sales a seat at the C-suite – almost like a Chief Sales Officer.   The CRO is not dead however, it is an experiment and an intermediary step to the Chief Customer Officer position. As progressive companies realize that it’s more effective to focus on the customer experience, relationship, satisfaction and loyalty that drives revenues than on the numbers themselves, Chief Revenue Officers will inevitably become Chief Customer Officers.   Most Fortune 100 companies are at some stage of the transformation to a customer-centric organization. From strategic planning to job description and performance metrics, enterprises are retooling themselves to align with customer expectations. In this transformation, it’s natural for CROs to move into the position of a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) that manages the lifecycle of the customer experience from marketing, to sales and support.   Only by stitching together these functions into a cohesive fabric can companies consistently deliver experiences and nimbly change in lock step with their customers.

Buyer 3.0 (a.k.a. What Social Tells You About Buyers)

The klaxons are ringing in corporate halls. To use an old praise, someone “moved the cheese”.  Marketing programs are struggling to consistently produce qualified leads that convert; prospect conversations are more challenging; customer co-creation expectations are wreaking havoc on product roadmaps; and customer service has lost control as customers turn to social media and peer-groups for help.   What’s happening?  The adoption of social technologies moved the “cheese” and heralded in the arrival of Buyer 3.0.  

What Does Trust Have To Do With Anything?

Ever been in a meeting where everyone seems to get along swimmingly? But the longer you sit there you start to get a sense that a play act is going on. The friendly banter is contrived, double entrendres abound, the proselytizers are taking turns, and the conversation doesn’t hit on the core reason for the meeting. It doesn’t matter if you’re in an uptight ‘suits’ or ‘jeans and t-shirt’ environment, company cultures these days suffer from a serious malaise. The lack of trust at all levels is at epidemic portions. I venture that few of you really trust your boss or cube farm neighbors.... Read the complete post on Forbes.

Speaking about Buyers Journey at NAWBO Silicon Valley

Come join me on November 15th for dinner and a talk at 6pm to the NAWBO Expo about the Buyers Journey. Location is at the Biltmore Hotel & Suites, 2151 Laurelwood Road, Santa Clara, CA 95054. Growth in this economic rebound has a different set of rules: Markets are transparent, buying is social, products and services must be sticky, buyers place more importance on the lifetime experience than on the purchase, and they expect to realize value long before they purchase your solution. To grow in this new economy demands that companies adjust not only how they market and sell but drive faster revenue cycles.  

DreamForce 11: Discovering Cloud Extend

Arriving at DreamForce the check-in was smooth either because most of the 42,000 attendees hadn't arrived yet or were off doing something cool. Based on the Twitter feed for #DF11, my guess is that the sessions are excellent.  I grabbed my badge and the obligatory logoed backpack (which actually is pretty cool) before racing off to meet Mark Taber, CEO of Active Endpoints. Mark and I spent a lot of time talking about the Buyers Journey. His experience in aligning to the Buyer proved that the methodology not only demonstrable accelerates revenue cycles but also reduces Cost of Sales. But that is a topic for a different post. What initially interested me in talking with Mark was their new Cloud Extend product.  

Join me for a Free Webinar on Alignment

BrightTalk has invited me to shared best practices, real life case examples and a road map for how to align Sales and Marketing.  This free webinar will be held on October 19th at 10:00am pacific time.  From the prospect to up-sell stages, organizations have a great opportunity to accelerate their revenue cycles by enabling marketing and sales to function as a unified team.  Aligned Sales and Marketing teams are more efficient, close more sales and have happier customers. Attend this webinar to find out the seven steps you can take to accomplish this, complete with supporting case studies.   

Tipping Business (and our Economy) toward Growth

Tipping Point The market’s response to the S&P downgrade of American debt was panic.  The ‘Great American Downgrade’ is what I’m hearing it being referred to.  While the pundits argue over whether it was a ‘crash’ or a ‘correction’, the Senate, ironically, debates opening an investigation into S&P’s “irresponsible” act.  The looming question of whether this will trigger a double dip recession depends on how we look at the future. A glass can be either half full or half empty; it all depends on your perspective.  In the frenetic world of 7x24 news, social media, always-connected jobs and maxi-multi-tasking lives we often lose perspective.   It is as if we’re racing through a forest as fast as we can, seeing only the blur of the trees and believing we’re on the right trail.  

Mi6 and I talk Alignment

In this episode of the the B2B Specialists podcast Chris Herbert of Mi6 interviews me.   Get yourself a cup of coffee, tea or something stronger and enjoy the interview.  

Customer Acquisition is a Myth

The economy is working on rebounding and companies are gearing up.  Pipelines and revenues are heading north and hiring along with it.  But something in this rebound is different. For new sales hires, the expectation is that they join with a solid book of business and a pipeline already in hand; even for companies where the ramp time for sales people to achieve repeatable revenue productivity is six to nine months.  Same goes for marketers. Regardless of the market’s or company’s maturity or readiness the expectation of newly hired marketing leaders is that they produce a significant uptick in pipelines in 60 to 90 days, regardless of the capabilities or competence of marketing or sales. For many new hires, these are unrealistic and unachievable expectations.  Nevertheless, the message is loud and clear – growth comes only from net new customer acquisition.