In 2020, the average amount of time a CMO stayed in their job was 40 months. A little over three years is hardly enough time to put strategies in place and see any sort of significant growth within the organization. 

So, what is causing this decrease in tenure?  

I think much of this has to do with a lack of discovery done by the CEO and CMO candidate during the interview process. John Ellett, in his book The CMO Manifesto, addresses how critical the CMO interview process is for the long term success of the role. 

In B2B SaaS marketing, CMOs are held more accountable to revenue than ever before. When the right CMO is put in place, they are able to rise up to the challenge and successfully lead their team through new strategies and ultimately, to higher revenue. 

As a B2B SaaS marketing firm, we see 4 major traits that successful B2B CMOs have. A CMO embodying these 4 traits demonstrate an ability to create a winning culture that catapults the company forward. 

1. They’ve worked in the trenches.

Those on your team want to work for somebody who understands how marketing gets executed. The best B2B SaaS CMOs have experience writing content, launching ad campaigns, or hosting a podcast - whatever experience is valuable to your team and your goals.

2. They know how to structure (or restructure) a marketing team.

Building out the marketing team is one of the first things a CMO will do if there is not a team in place. When there is a team in place, a CMO should consider whether the marketing team needs to be restructured. Restructuring should happen when inefficient silos exist in the company or when they are in need of a talent upgrade. 

3. They establish what marketing’s contribution to the organization looks like.

At the end of the day the CEO will care most about how marketing is driving revenue for the company. What this doesn’t mean is that the CEO holds their CMO to producing vanity metrics like quantity of MQLs, SQLs, etc. If those are the primary KPIs of the CMO’s role, the CMO may simply orchestrate activities that produce leads. 

The CMO should be in sync with the CEO from the time they interview about what marketing’s contribution to the organization looks like. The CEO should empower their CMO with the budget and staff needed to drive marketing sourced revenue for the company. 

4. They cast a vision for how the brand is perceived in the marketplace.

Many B2B buying decisions are made offline in places that you can’t always attribute the sale to. This concept is called the “dark web” meaning that buying decisions are made in places you can’t track, such as LinkedIn Groups, organic posts on social media, Facebook groups, etc. The only way to capture these buyers is to invest in brand and customer success. Category leading brands know that they need to be the first product that buyers think of during the buying process. CMOs can accomplish this by building out solid demand gen, creative, and product marketing teams. 

The B2B CMO job is perhaps the most misunderstood role in the organization. Experienced and successful CMOs stay where they are until they are ready for a new challenge defying the average 40 month attrition time frame. These CMOs have the ability to gain the trust of their team, organize a great department with the right roles, work across the organization to clarify marketing’s contribution, and generate organic demand for the brand.


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