Implementing Executive Change: 4 Risks/Opportunities – B2B CMO view

Executives are paid to take calculated risks and make decisions.  Recently, I spoke to an officer of a $1B company seeking to make some large changes across their company, specifically by repositioning the marketing organization toward a strategic contributor to the revenue generation capability.  Within this situation, this company was considering significant process and technology augmentation – and realizing there were so many priorities to focus on without clarity on what to focus on first.  In 5 companies I’ve talked to in the last few weeks, this situation of a marketing team and leader not knowing where to focus first is extremely common in all sized companies!  Everyone wants to make quick, visible change and not risk the huge time commits for larger change.   In preparation for the conversation, I outlined 4 risks in making this kind of transition.  Specifically, achieving true marketing ROI, Process, People, and Technology.  I’ve summarized this below bolding the largest risk areas.

Situation

Risk

Opportunity

Improve measurement system for  Marketing ROI Cultural sensitivity to process overhaul and alignment; CEO/GM/Sales change management Changing Marketing to strategic business contributor (revenue, new sales, new customers) from ‘Arts & Crafts’ department
Improve process Underestimating commitment required for lead flow, content, data integrity, cross functional coordination Cleaning up processes to maximize marketing contribution to bottom line
Improve people skills Underestimating new skillset needed Retool existing people to compete in 21st century
Improve technology Silver Bullet mentality at Executive levelRelying 100% on outside vendors to guide on journey/pitfalls as they rely on self serving models or cookie cutter approaches Leveraging technology instead of people to drive revenueOperational experience in vendors

Of the four risks, achieving marketing ROI through executive alignment is the single biggest risk.  Specifically, the clearer one is on the single objective of the newly repositioned organization (ie  source revenue to X%, predict what sourced revenue will close, drive faster conversion by Y% on sales cycle by enabling sales, upsell existing clients, etc.), the higher probability the organization as an entire entity will succeed.  It is critical to understand the overall business objectives and where the new revenue will come from – get out of the marketing box and understand profitability by region, by channel, and by product.  Study the reports that are seen at the executive level, know how sales teams are compensated.  The other risks around Process, People, and Technology are tactics that typically fall behind the first objective.  Too often marketing leaders get sucked into the latest technology trends (which are constantly changing thus adding to the confusion), wrapped around their own proprietary language (MQLs, SQLs, etc) and then thrust the proprietary language upon sales or the rest of the organization, or have marketing team members that are not keeping current with the latest and greatest technology.

Change is never easy for any organization.  How have you been able to successfully implement change?

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