How to Sell Revenue Marketing to the CEO: Three Proven Steps to Earning Your Seat at the Table

Debbie Qaqish
Marketing News Weekly
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Key Takeaways

What? Of CEOs, 73% believe marketers lack credibility, while 80% of marketers feel accountable for generating revenue.

So what? Marketers are not earning their seat at the executive table because they are not demonstrating their contribution to revenue.    

Now what? To claim their seat, successful marketers must: 1) understand the CEO’s perception of marketing 2) speak her language and build a multi-channel platform to communicate value 3) engage same process with the CRO and CFO. 

​March 24, 2017
 

What does your CEO really think about marketing and what effect is that having on marketing results and credibility?

I can’t tell you what your CEO thinks about marketing, but I can tell you what she thinks affects your results and credibility. A recent study showed that close to 73% of CEOs believe marketers lack business credibility, and in an age where close to 80% of marketers feel the pressure to demonstrate credible ROI, this is a serious gap.

There are three steps marketers can follow to effectively sell the value of their role to the CEO and close this gap.

Step 1: Find out what your CEO really thinks about marketing.

Over the last two months, I have addressed two different groups of CEOs regarding how to use marketing as an economic engine for organizational growth and profit. I began each presentation by asking them to raise their hand when I read the statement that best described their perception of their company’s marketing efforts. Here were the choices:

  1. Marketing is a basic cost center in our company.

  2. Marketing is our sales enablement team and is a cost center.

  3. Marketing contributes indirectly to revenue.

  4. Marketing has an assigned quota and contributes directly to revenue.

  5. Marketing is a repeatable, predictable and scalable revenue machine. It is part of the growth engine in our company.

Seeing what statement each group responded to helped me shape my comments and provided a better context for our discussion. The same is true for you. Understanding what your CEO really thinks about marketing (not what you wish she thought about marketing) is the first step. Present the CEO with an honest question and be very open to listening (without defending) to what she has to say to the question, “How would you describe the role and the value of marketing in this organization?”

Step 2: Create your platform and use the language of the CEO.

Once you understand how your CEO perceives marketing (real or imagined), you can get to work on communicating your platform. Think of a politician running for office. They run on a platform with a slate of issues they will address that speak directly to the needs of their constituents. And, they deliver that platform of messages over and over and in many different locations and across many different channels. You have to do the same. Having one meeting is not enough. Think about a platform of messages that speaks the CEO language for a 12-month period.

Step 3: Repeat Step 2 with the CRO and CFO. 

The CEO highly values the opinion of the other C-suite executives, especially the CRO and CFO. Expand your platform messaging to include the benefits of revenue marketing to the CRO and the CFO.

In a recentstudy by Allocadia, creating a relationship with the CFO was a key success factor for revenue marketers. Expanding the sphere of influence to include those people who hold the CEO’s trust is instrumental to your success.

Transforming marketing from a cost center to an economic engine of the organization is about much more than just getting the right technology. The perception of what marketing does and the belief in what it can do is fundamental to this transformation. Don’t ignore, don’t pretend it does not exist. Tackle this issue head on, sell the value of marketing to your CEO and gain both a seat and a voice at the table.


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Author Bio:

 
Debbie Qaqish
Debbie Qaqish is principal partner and chief strategy officer of <a href="http://www.pedowitzgroup.com/?utm_source=PR&utm_campaign=AMA%27s%20B2B%20Marketing%20newsletter&utm_medium=Bylined%20Article" target="_blank">The Pedowitz Group</a>, Debbie manages global client relationships and leads the firm’s thought leadership initiatives. She has been helping B-to-B companies drive revenue growth for over 35 years.
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