Coverage of CMO Club Panel Session

Go here to check out coverage of the recent panel session I did in New York City at the CMO Club summit. Overall, I enjoyed participating on the panel and want to thank both Pete from the CMO Club for inviting me and the other panelists for the fun debate.

(From left to right, me; Jarvis Cromwell, CMO of StormExchange; and Barry Herstein CMO of PayPal.)

The panel was about career management for CMOs and I was there to provide the “from CMO to CEO” angle. Not surprisingly with a bunch of marketing people, I had trouble getting a word in edgewise. :-)

Here are some of the points that I made which are covered in the blog post:

  • Marketing is struggling for relevance. Product and sales groups are very powerful. Marketing gets relegated to a communications role.
  • Present yourself as a business person, not a marketing person. Be with a successful company. People will ask you why you stayed so long with a losing company.
  • Your job is to make sales easier. Don’t be in the way. Surprisingly it’s very hard to get that alignment.

Overall, I’d make a few additional points of advice to my fellow marketers (while I’ve been a CEO for 4 years I nevertheless still consider myself a marketing guy and probably always will):

  • Talk less, listen more. We marketers are a chatty bunch and need to be self-aware.
  • Align to the business. Make this a never-ending quest. See point 1 for help in doing it.
  • Remember that for the sales VP and the CEO, it really is all about the numbers. It’s easy to preach about long-term investments, brand-values, and other lofty things. Do so once in a while as it’s your role, but do so with care. Choose your battles.
  • Market for your sales force, not for other marketers. Marketing is a self-congratulatory discipline. Lots of campaigns that win awards don’t move the sales needle an inch.

I have one story from the panel that I think contains a rather pointed lesson. It goes like this:

Audience member: I have a question — how many people in this room, panelists included, have ever carried a bag in sales (i.e., had a sales job and sales quota)?

About 10% of the hands go up. Mine is not one of them. But I think the woman’s begging a great question: can you, and how can you — if you’ve never walked a mile in their shoes — support sales? It’s a great topic. I’m ready to riff on it. (My favorite riff is about the poor salesperson who joins marketing or sales operations thinking sales will continue to see him/her as “us” when unbeknownst to them, in the eyes of their former quota-carrying colleagues, they transition from “us” to “them” approximately 10 nanoseconds after renouncing their quota.)

I’m ready to go, thinking this is going to be great.

Moderator: OK, now let’s talk about “the brand called me” in managing your career.

Me: Wait a minute. You, in the audience, where were you headed with that sales question?

Audience member: I was thinking about how we can support sales if we’ve never done sales, and that maybe people would be interested in discussing that?

[Sound of crickets chirping]

Moderator: OK, now let’s talk about “the brand call me”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big believer in the whole “brand called me” thing and agree that people should treat themselves as marketable products (from a resume perspective) and establish clear positioning and differentiation. That’s all great.

But isn’t there something wrong when a bunch of marketing people would rather talk about the “brand called me” than sales? Isn’t that part of the problem?

My closing comments on the panel were as follows:

  • For career success as a marketer first realize that as CMO you inherently have a dual role: head marketer and e-staff contributor.
  • Build a very strong team that you can basically leave alone to run marketing
  • Then put your effort into the e-staff contributor role to help you both develop as a business person and contribute to your company’s success.
  • And finally, I want to know why only me and the woman dressed in black want to talk about sales. (She’s my bet for the next CEO in the crowd.)
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2 responses to “Coverage of CMO Club Panel Session

  1. Steve Wooledge

    Dave,Great play-by-play from the CMO summit. It would have been fun to be there in person. I can vouch for the difficulty in making transition from sales to marketing. I got a chuckle from your comment about the “poor salesperson” who makes the switch, hoping he’s still viewed as “one of them” by the sales people — that could easily have been me! When I left sales to join product marketing I kept my sales hat on for about one quarter before I started getting caught up in the “ivory tower” and forgetting who our customer is (both the end customer, as well as the sales people). It’s easy to wrap your self around the “mind share” game of worrying about press hits, analyst reviews, etc. Why? Positive reinforcement.My “positive reinforcement” theory is that your marketing colleagues, press, and analysts are more likely to give you positive comments regardless of how good a job you’re doing because of quid-pro-quo. Analysts want you to buy their services, so they’re nice to you. Journalists need good stories, and marketing teams need each other to function smoothly. Even if you are a lousy marketer, they’ll generally still say nice things and give you a pat on the back. As people, we spend our time with others who make us feel good – positive reinforcement.On the other hand, sales people have immense pressure to perform – quarter in and quarter out. They won’t waste their time telling how good of a job you’re doing unless it’s true. Sales needs leads and PO’s – yesterday. They spend a lot of time “playing nice-nice” with customers (as one of my former VP’s of sales used to say) – they just don’t have the time of patience to be positive internally when coming to marketing for help in reaching their goals. Additionally, there’s generally less required quid-pro-quo between marketing and sales than marketing and analystsAs a marketer it’s easy to stay in the comfort zone and go where you get the positive reinforcement. You bring up great reminders to stay aligned with the business. Thanks. /rant

  2. As the facilitator of the panel I wanted to share a few other comments. Dave you are spot on in your recap. By far the most valuable experience I have had in my career that impacted my marketing effectiveness was the years I spent at M&M/Mars as sales director, leading a team of direct and indirect sales people selling candy. For CMOs that haven’t “carried the bag” I strongly suggest you get a sales star in your team to help drive demand generation, customer engagement, etc. from within your team.Dave, thanks again for your participation, clearly one of the best sessions of the summit. The woman in black by the way is Adriana Rizzo, CMO at Snac Inc. and one of the more active members of The CMO CLUB.

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