How to be a good CMO: Think like a CFO. Act like a CRO. Talk like a COO.
Of course, there’s a little more to it than that. But you get the picture.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- What keeps effective CMOs up at night.
- How and why to manage your team according to KPIs.
- Key ABM findings for CMOs to consider.
This post is based on a podcast with Denmark Fransisco. You can hear the full episode here and below.
Focusing on the target goal
As a CMO, what keeps you up at night?
Denmark: Essentially, pipeline.
There’s a good saying that money talks, bullshit walks or something like that. I quickly realized that as a CMO, one has to think like a CFO. That’s what keeps me up at night.
Now I say think like a CFO, act like a CRO, and talk like a COO.
The reason for that is at the end of the day, the CRO, the CMO, and the CFO, they’re on the same boat. And it’s being steered by the CEO or the cofounders onboard. Most likely the CEO.
What keeps me up at night is:
- Are we all aligned together in our goals?
- What’s the future revenue and income looking like?
What really keeps me up at night is really what the future looks like. Not necessarily the past problems that we have or things that are working on.
What’s the target and what’s the goal? Sometimes we get stuck in the minutia of why things don’t work. We forget what the actual target is.
And each organization is different, right? They have their own goals and they have their own purposes. Some organizations want to sell to a larger organization. Some organizations want to go unicorn status, some organizations want to stay private. I don’t get in the way of that.
I actually asked the founders, specifically the cofounders, if there is more than one reason why they built a company. Because I find that their original idea, the original purpose of why it was built, that to me is pure. And I’m a purist in that sense.
I’ve been in and out of organizations for the last 13 years now. I’ve consulted for about 50 companies. And in the beginning, I tried to fit companies into what I think was right for them, which is completely false. It’s false. The world doesn’t work the way Denmark Francisco thinks it works, right? The companies and the cofounders and the founders, they function the way they built the company.
So number one, what is the original idea of why the company was built and how can I help that process? As a CMO, as a marketer, what’s the original idea and where do we want to take it and what does the future look like?
So that’s what keeps me up at night. Number two: What’s the future income looking like? What’s the pipeline?
Obviously you and I are both ABM. You’re the father of that and I believed in the idea since the beginning. I mean all that matters is income.
Managing by KPIs
How do you stand against all the pressures of the industry saying try something new and do things differently?
Denmark: I have a managerial philosophy that’s really become a policy in the way I operate, which is managed by statistics. Managed by KPIs.
If you’ve ever worked with me, any clients that ever have, you know the first thing that I do is look at numbers and I call that data analysis. I look at KPIs specifically for one reason: It’s going to show me the current condition of the organization, including marketing, including sales, including success. Including the finance of the organization, how healthy the finance of your organization is.
What I find a lot in organizations that I’ve consulted for is that the most successful action that these organizations that succeed and continue to operate at a high level is that they agree to the number.
When that meeting happens and before we get out of that board meeting, we agree on those numbers and as you know, a number is really meaningless by itself. This is one of the things that happens when I consult with organizations. They’ll take a single-digit number and think that’s like the Bible.
I always tell them one piece of data without being compared to another piece of data is useless. A number by itself is useless. You have to be able to compare it to something else, right? This is classic statistical analysis.
So number one is taking a look at the numbers first to see how the current pipeline is looking specifically for marketing and sales.
Learning from ABM
What have you learned from ABM?
Denmark: I am agnostic when it comes to technology. I’m completely technologically agnostic, platform agnostic. What I’m focused on is problem-solving. That’s really what I’m focused on.
The beautiful thing is tech founders and individuals who have really brilliant minds are thinking, “Wow, I can actually create a platform.” This is why the whole staff platform has just blown up in the last decade.
I’m really concerned not only about new bookings, which is the most important part of the job. I’m also concerned about the up sells and the re-signs.
It takes time and experience to become a really effective CMO. But, if you put in the work and maintain the right mindset, CMO really isn’t that far off.