Savvy CMOs know that the chief sales officer (CSO) is a critical organizational ally. CEOs lean heavily on their CSOs to drive revenue growth – the lifeblood supporting corporate infrastructure and ultimately the CEO’s tenure. Accordingly, CSOs often have broad influence over functional operations and budgets. Historically, CSOs and even CEOs have sometimes viewed marketing as a cost center, with discretionary budget dollars available to cut as financial performance and priorities change, or when the CSO would like to fund more sales reps.
CMOs and CSOs need to engage each other continually as real business partners. A strong relationship helps the CSO with sales productivity and deal success, and benefits the CMO by redefining marketing from a cost center to a strategic growth center. This serves both leaders with more efficient and aligned corporate growth. Here are seven key areas in which CMOs and CSOs should engage effectively to drive profitable growth:
- Legacy culture and marketing’s new role. Despite the significant transformation of B2B marketing, many business leaders still lack understanding of what marketing should contribute to the business today. Leaders must get over any historical cultural animosity between sales and marketing – and move beyond this legacy view to achieve growth through aligned sales and marketing goals, people, processes and technologies to jointly identify and scale new prospect and customer opportunities. To overcome any legacy misperceptions, CMOs and CSOs should work as partners to reposition a sales and marketing agenda, driving growth with actionable customer insights and sales and marketing enablement.
- An aligned view of buyer and customer audiences. Human and non-human touchpoint data throughout the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle must be captured and analyzed with relevant insights to develop content and programs that engage buyers and customers effectively. Sales and marketing have critical roles to play in acquiring, retaining and growing customers, and must do so in an aligned way. Many organizations still have issues obtaining, analyzing and leveraging audience insights, preventing a shared understanding of the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle, and when and how sales and marketing should engage the buyer.
- Common processes and infrastructure. To enable and scale growth, CMOs and CSOs need to establish some shared foundational infrastructure. Often, sales and marketing work in silos – lacking a common understanding of basic terms, the demand creation and optimization processes, expectations of sales and marketing to work together effectively, or technology implementations that support productive workflows. Focus areas include establishing a common language, aligning on the Demand Waterfall® processes, deploying and maintaining service-level agreements, improving technology integrations, and achieving strong alignment between sales and marketing operations groups.
- Aligned planning. Organizations often struggle to achieve the strategic growth targets established by the C-suite due to lack of clarity, functional readiness and cross-functional alignment. Focus areas include clarifying the balance between growth strategies, implementing and improving a cross-functional strategic planning process, and conducting a readiness and alignment assessment to determine priority actions for achieving growth targets.
- Integrated campaigns. Organizations often confuse campaigns with tactics, resulting in misalignment on key buyer and customer needs, inefficient use of resources, and poorer results. SiriusDecisions defines integrated campaigns as key long-term integrated initiatives based on audience needs that combine tactics and content in four program families of reputation, demand creation, sales enablement and market intelligence. Advantages of integrated campaigns to sales and marketing alignment include greater audience relevance, better strategic alignment, and improved sales and marketing efficiency.
- Performance metrics and dashboards. Sales and marketing often track different data when measuring what “good” looks like and identifying key successes and gaps. This siloed approach frequently results in poor alignment and results. Sales and marketing must reach agreement on what metrics and KPIs to jointly measure, report on and manage to continuously improve business results.
- Cross-functional leadership and communications. Effective communications and leadership between CMOs and CSOs are required for a mutually successful and sustainable partnership. Focus areas include having ongoing dialogues, modeling alignment behaviors for staff, encouraging cross-functional staff experiences between sales and marketing roles, and CMO/CSO calibration before QBRs and board reviews.
Visionary CMOs and CSOs have already broken down the historical silos that divided them. They understand that aligning sales and marketing as a unified team will accelerate growth, drive profitability and enhance enterprise customer focus. While the benefits of a strong working relationship are clear, the path to a strategic partnership is not always easy. Sales and marketing must align around common strategies, data, processes, KPIs, technology platforms and behavioral norms. A structured approach between leaders and their operations staff is required in addition to socializing at the executive level. CMOs and CSOs who ensure the implementation and maintenance of robust processes are far more likely to accelerate profitable growth.