Perspectives

Who’s writing checks for tech? The CMO.

B2B technology companies, meet your new best customer. The CMO. That’s not a typo, it’s a documented trend.

According to Gartner, one-third (30 percent) of marketing-related technology is now bought by marketing, not by the CIO. That percentage is only going to get larger as marketing becomes increasingly tech-centric. In fact, Gartner predicts that the CMO’s budget will be 2-3 times the CIO’s budget by 2017.

Our own experience confirms it. Over the past year, more and more of our positioning engagements have been with clients targeting the CMO.

Why is this happening? Take a quick look at a couple of examples and you’ll see that tech is the new key to marketing success.

  • SAS: Traditional business intelligence/analytics have been swamped by the rise of digital media, mobility, and marketing automation. SAS recognized that the CMO’s mandate has evolved to managing multiple channels, media, campaigns, and analytics all in real time. Seeing that revenue is now at the heart of every conversation, the company introduced a customer intelligence platform with built-in analytics, allowing customers to find the most profitable growth opportunities and more intelligently manage their marketing investment.
  • Thunderhead.com: The company recognized that a disjointed and impersonal customer experience was no longer just an IT issue but also a marketing issue, and devised a new solution that delivers contemporary SaaS business services via the cloud. Now companies can make the customer experience digital, unified, and memorable, and Thunderhead.com can market an innovative solution to an age-old problem—a solution that gets IT and marketing psyched about working together.

And what does this new trend mean for B2B tech marketing and sales teams?

It’s time to start targeting the CMO directly.

And that requires a different selling strategy than most B2B tech companies are accustomed to.

Unlike the CIO, the CMO is not interested in tech for tech’s sake. The CMO is interested in the business outcomes of using technology. Sales discussions must focus on business drivers, not speeds and feeds. Your products, services, and solutions must be linked to business benefits using the metrics the CMO cares about: customer retention, online conversion rates, cost per lead, lead generation efficiency, etc.

And it’s critical to connect your technology directly to revenue. Show the CMO specifically how your product will help marketing prove its value—tangibly and quantifiably—to the CEO.

That means doing a little homework. You need to understand what kind of technologywill be making the biggest impact on the CMO’s business goals so you’re prepared to align your solution with the CMO’s key initiatives. For example, the CMO may be looking at marketing automation solutions such as Marketo or Eloqua. Where does your solution fit in? The CMO may be evaluating social collaboration solutions like Jive, Chatter, or Yammer to leverage customer feedback, or gamification solutions like Badgeville or Gigya. How will your solution facilitate those efforts?

If you can connect your products and services to these or other technology-based marketing initiatives, you’ll connect with the CMO.

Four steps to prepare for CMO selling:

#1. Walk a mile in the CMO’s shoes.

Today’s CMO is role is complicated. It’s a high-wire act. They’re dealing with multiple channels, from direct to e-commerce, multiple business models, online sales processes—and anyone can broadcast an opinion about your brand at any time.

That’s why the average tenure for a CMO is now only 14 months.

So take the time to understand what life is like for the CMO. What’s top of mind? What do they care about? What’s keeping them up at night? What are their priorities?

#2. Get your story straight.

You need a crisp, clear way of communicating how your company will solve a huge problem for the CMO. And you need to tailor your story for each CMO’s specific situation, because CMOs are not created equal. Some are tech-savvy, others don’t know if a router is a person or a thing. Some are strategic, others are tactical. Some are worried about cutting cost and risk, others want to take a big risk for a big reward. Also consider industry factors. Consumer products CMOs have very different concerns than financial services or retail CMOs.

#3. Stop the geek speak!

If you’re talking back-end system integration and gigaflops per second, you’re going to see the CMO’s eyes glaze over. The CMO wants to build revenue and relevance, not compute infrastructure. Here’s a quick reality check. If you’re using any of the following ten words in your presentation to the CMO, you’re going to hear crickets chirping: open, flexible, powerful, collaborative, agile, empowering, comprehensive, scalable, extensible, future-proof.

#4: Make the CMO relevant.

Tie your sales efforts to funded initiatives and show the CMO how the initiative will deliver more value to the business faster. In other words, connect them to revenue. Help them quantify how their marketing investments will move the needle.

The role of the CMO is evolving. So should your marketing and sales efforts.

Over time, the average CMO is going to become more and more sophisticated about technology, and the average CIO is going to become more knowledgeable about marketing. Their jobs will depend on it.

But for now, they’re still very different people. And you need to sell to both—differently. Your ability to make quota may depend on it.

 

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