CMOs are a unique breed. Because Marketing is such a diverse function—encompassing creatives and quants under the same roof—as a CMO, it takes a distinct skill set to orchestrate this blend of talents in a way that translates to success. Beyond acting as a conductor, the B2B CMO’s responsibilities have expanded in recent years—taking on an even broader and more revenue-focused leadership role, in order to meet demanding organizational objectives. With accountability expectations on the rise, many marketers are finding themselves hard-pressed to bridge the gap between Marketing efforts and the bottom line.

The B2B CMO of tomorrow must be able to not only report on past activity, but act as the company “psychic”—able to accurately predict the future revenue impact of every dollar spent. Doing so requires an intimate understanding of performance across the demand waterfall—from first touch to close (and everything in between). In order to confidently invest in future activities, however, CMOs must first get a grip on the past.

Come Together, Right Now (Sales and Marketing)

With more and more buyers self-educating prior to ever speaking with a salesperson, CMOs own more of the B2B buyers’ journey than ever before. As a result, Sales and Marketing need be more closely aligned than they’ve traditionally have been. When Sales and Marketing unite around agreed upon goals and responsibilities, organizations stand the best chance of improving sales productivity, increasing marketing ROI, and driving growth.

Not surprisingly, Forrester reports that B2B CMOs noted head of Sales as their most important relationship in 2014. While bringing the two disciplines together may sound simple in theory, Sales and Marketing often have very different priorities and expectations. For example:

  • Marketers generally focus on longer-term, strategic projects that span multiple quarters or even years; Salespeople are often most concerned with meeting monthly or quarterly quotas.
  • Marketing generates lots of activities; Sales doesn’t always see the connection between the activities and revenue.
  • Sales are relatively straightforward to measure; Marketing activities tend to be far more complicated with multiple touchpoints, stakeholders, and buyer scenarios. Which bring us to the next challenge…

More Data, More Problems

Most B2B organizations have access to expansive databases—spanning both Sales and Marketing—that record everything from historical campaign performance to the lifetime activity of customers and prospects. Whether marketers are making best use of this data is another discussion, and more than half of CMOs reported rarely or never using big data to make marketing decisions.

The reality is that most B2B CMOs are inundated with way too much data. Add to that a growing marketing stack—from CRMs, to automation platforms, to web analytics, and beyond—and you’ve got a recipe for disaster or, more likely, a tired and underutilized CMO. Unfortunately, most CMOs spend far too much time trying to make sense of the past—attributing historical campaign performance—when they should be doing the thing that they’re most uniquely positioned to do: planning for the future.

Look Into The Crystal Ball

“The best qualification of a prophet is to have a good memory.”
–Marquis of Halifax, CMO

In the age of big data, it shouldn’t take a savant-like memory to to get a grip on past marketing performance. On the other end of the spectrum, it shouldn’t take a magical crystal ball to predict how many deals will result from a given marketing activity or, at a higher level, how investments will translate to revenue. A wealth of data, and disparate technologies, have too many B2B CMOs scratching their heads. While the promise of big data and new marketing technologies was to simplify the CMO’s life, it has seemingly only made life more complicated. The hype surrounding big data has not yet translated to action… but it can.

The data exists to facilitate smarter marketing bets, and CMOs needn’t be spending much time, if any, to reach actionable revenue insights. In order to get to predictive marketing, CMOs must find a way to integrate data between a multitude of technologies, and have automated analysis in place to get the answers they need, quickly. Which customer profile is most likely to convert?  Which campaign types yield the best ROI? If I put X dollars in today, what return will I see and and when?

The time for predictive marketing is now. Through a combination of automated data mining, statistical models (ever-evolving through machine learning), and benchmarking, CMOs are already making intelligent, agile decisions without the headache and time suck that they once knew. With predictive marketing, CMOs can finally step up to the table with their executive peers and put their “clairvoyant” powers to use—confidently commanding exactly which investments will work and why.