Many B2B CMOs find themselves in a tricky position. The evolution of the buyer’s journey means that many CMOs and their teams are taking on an expanded scope of responsibilities to reach empowered buyers who are conducting their own research before talking to sales. At the same time, marketing is still struggling to prove its value in many organizations, which typically focus on sales and product management.

As Jay Gaines, vice president and group director at SiriusDecisions, explained in a recent webcast, the only solution for CMOs is to lead a high-performance marketing function. Here’s our isn’tearlier post describing Jay’s take on what high-performance marketing .

Now, the top five characteristics of true high-performance marketing:

Marketing is competent. “Marketing teams cannot expect to drive positive change in the organization unless they are competent in the areas where they are most needed,” Jay said. It’s important to consider both skills and processes. For example, many marketing leaders are too heavily focused on creating strong alignment with sales in the end-to-end lead management process before marketing is able to deliver real leads. Asking sales to start following up on all leads delivered by marketing (or mandating follow-up via a service-level agreement) is a huge mistake if marketing isn’t ready to create and deliver the correct quality of leads.

Marketing is credible. Most CMOs know that both metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are vital. But is each being used for its intended purpose? Jay encouraged marketing leaders to emphasize KPIs, which indicate the health of the business. Metrics can diagnose causes and project likely trends, but they do not clearly communicate progress toward strategic goals. Also, CMOs must pick their battles wisely. Often, attempting to take too much credit in areas like lead attribution from events results in skepticism about any business contribution that marketing reports.

Marketing is accountableEarlier this year, Jay called on CMOs to draw inspiration from our Summit keynote speaker, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and “share the terror”. The acceptance of risk and responsibility for actual revenue numbers – a burden that has increased for CMOs in the era of empowered buyers – is a core requirement of high-performance marketing.

Marketing is strategic. To be considered an equal to other senior-level executives, CMOs must act decisively rather than reactively, and use insights and facts to champion their plans. “Don’t ask sales what they need for more leads,” Jay said. “Say you’ve given thought to lead generation and have ideas for how to balance quality and quantity.”

Marketing is integrated. Product management and sales benefit from strong inherent integration with one another. Marketing is not so lucky. “That will always be the case unless marketing is driving better integration and alignment across product management and development, marketing and sales,” Jay warned. CMOs and their teams must also build integration on another front: bridging gaps between offerings and customers.