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The Most Successful CMOs are Thinking Like Salespeople. Are You?

May 7, 2020 2 min read


In much simpler times, the marketer’s role was laser-focused on top-of-the-funnel impact — driving awareness and reaching key audiences.

Those days are certainly over.

Fast forward to 2019 —  the buyer’s journey is non-linear and highly complex, and consumers are empowered to gather information and make a purchase whenever, wherever. The sales and marketing silos are falling way and teams are realigning around the entire customer experience.

Since the lines between sales and marketing have blurred, the Chief Marketing Officer role has evolved beyond sheer marketing expertise.

Today, the marketing department is expected to show clear attribution for revenue and focus more on the bottom line than ever before. Successful CMOs are thinking about the company holistically and play a crucial role in meeting sales and revenue goals.

The best CMOs are thinking like salespeople, and here’s how you can, too.

Be revenue-focused.

This one may come off as obvious, but all too often marketers are focusing on feel-good or vanity metrics. “Building awareness” and “driving engagement” are important, but CMOs must ensure that marketing is generating revenue and driving overall business goals.

Think in terms of KPIs rather than brand awareness.

What are the measurable indicators that marketing efforts are driving revenue goals?

Having a firm grasp on KPIs and financial metrics helps a CMO:

  • Articulate how marketing is directly affecting the bottom-line;
  • Prove ROI to leadership; and
  • Make a compelling case for increasing the marketing budget.

Support the full customer lifecycle.

The customer-centric business model is the new business-as-usual.

Long gone are the days where marketing fills the funnel with qualified leads then leaves it up to the sales team to bring them through the rest of the buying funnel.

Now marketing drives closing, retention, and delight. Great CMOs are competitive problem-solvers for their customers, getting to know their deepest motivations and greatest pain points to ensure customer success throughout the entire buying journey.

This customer-first mentality displaces the traditional sales funnel and instead aligns sales and marketing around creating a remarkable customer experience at every lifecycle stage, from prospect to lead to longtime customer.

Stay curious.

By nature, the CMO role is always evolving alongside shifts in technology, consumer behavior, and the marketplace. Continuous learning and thinking outside of the proverbial marketing box is an absolute must.

The best CMOs are curious — curious about what their customers are craving, curious about what is driving success for other companies, and curious about how they can creatively and effectively have the biggest impact on their company’s bottom line.

And the best salespeople are curious, too.

In fact, 82% of top salespeople have extremely high curiosity levels (Harvard Business Review). That means during sales calls, they’re fully present and digging deep to ask the important questions to get at their prospects’ needs and have a full handle on the situation.


Today, great marketing equals great sales and vice versa. The top-notch CMOs have a breadth of knowledge and skills that span the entire sales funnel, embracing a sales mindset and zoning in on bottom-line impact.

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This post was originally published May 10, 2019