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The New B2B CMO—Top 7 Skills For Success

  • Written by William Wickey, LeadGenius
  • Published in Demanding Views

William WickeyAs marketing budgets continue to rise—now up to 12% of revenue, according to Gartner—the scope of the CMO and marketing organization’s role continues to expand.

Marketing is no longer just about brand, messaging strategy, events and advertising. Increasingly, the CMO is expected to move beyond traditional responsibilities and maximize marketing’s contribution to overall business goals and revenue.

Among their varied responsibilities, CMOs are being asked to optimize sales and marketing alignment, quantify the impact of high-level messaging and branding, report on pipeline performance, supply sales with educational content, and manage full-funnel marketing teams. These activities extend far beyond customer acquisition. Retention, upselling, customer happiness, even user experience, are all now part of the game.

These demands all require a new set of skills, including the ability to work a pivot table, and work it well. The “new CMO” must have a technical, data, and process-driven mindset. He or she cannot command a siloed department, but must rather be a unifying voice on the executive team.

Here are the top seven skills “The New CMO” should have in his or her arsenal:

Managing Millennials

They’re not just fresh-faced college graduates anymore. The older end of the Millennial generation has moved into management and leadership positions. The new CMO must adopt tools and management techniques that match the strengths and weakness of these digital natives. The new CMO must be prepared to effectively manage Millennials who are, in turn, also managing Millennials.

Content Creation at Scale

Content does not scale like other channels.

To create more quality content, you must manage and ramp more people, either inside or outside your organization. At the same time, marketers must juggle both a channel mix and content mix. Different types of content -- eBooks, webinars, landing pages, email marketing, videos, demos— they all require different skill sets to create.

Because content powers both inbound and outbound marketing, content and media strategy is critical for B2B marketing organizations. CMOs must be able to not only provide direction when it comes to high-level messaging strategy, but also inform the project management aspect of content creation and distribution.

Product Marketing

According to Salesforce, 90% of its user’s revenue comes from existing customers.

Because B2B companies want to keep customers around for longer and continue selling to them (especially in recurring revenue-based businesses), the product marketing skills focused on customer experience are becoming more and more important. Being well-versed in customer experience (CX), user experience (UX) and visual design is now part of the deal

Marketing Operations

Anyone who has taken a look at Scott Brinker’s State of Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic knows that B2B marketing technology stacks keep getting progressively heavier. In 2017, B2B marketing teams have seemingly reached critical mass when it comes to new technology adoption.

New technology additions have the potential to strengthen and streamline the stack or just bog it down. Operations people have lost patience with having dozens of overlapping and competing technologies to wrangle in one stack and B2B companies are starting to trim the fat. Inefficiencies and redundancies in the technology stack cost time and money.

Technical Marketing

The new CMO is never going to sit down and write a line of HTML, Javascript, Ruby, or AJAX. But, they need to be able to speak the same language as the people who will be doing just that.

B2B marketing projects are becoming more complex, involve more tools, technology, and people for every campaign. In many cases, marketers have to directly collaborate with developers who already use agile methods to be more productive.

A CMO’s job is largely about prioritization and need to understand the technical inputs of a given scenario.

Agile Marketing

Data-driven CMOs must eliminate uncertainty and create predictability. Agile project management is one for CMOs who can manage shifting priorities and timelines.

The benefits of agile marketing are a more efficient use of internal resources, more cost-effective marketing spend, faster deployment of campaigns, and more flexibility to absorb the changing needs of the business.

As CMOs are becoming more data-driven, they are now adopting the right tools and processes to put agile concepts into action.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Demand generation is not just about selling to decision makers, it’s about selling to accounts. According to LinkedIn, there are 6.8 people involved in the average B2B purchase.

There was a lot of hype about ABM last year. It can be a pain to switch from a lead/contact-based strategy, but long-term, this is where the industry is headed. Strategically, targeting multiple decision-makers at once, through multiple channels, allows a company to increase its sales velocity.


As marketing departments earn increased responsibility for revenue, product and marketing operations, they need an updated skill set for marketing leadership.

The CMOs that sharpen their skills in content creation, product marketing, marketing operations, technical marketing, agile marketing and ABM, will be well-equipped for success in the years ahead.

William Wickey leads Content and Media Strategy at LeadGenius. He specializes in growth strategy, crisis communications and lean marketing. Connect with William on Twitter.