Top CMO Priorities for 2023: Alignment, Efficiency, Consistency

Regardless of their size, their industry, or where they operate, businesses are tackling the year with redefined budgets, new focus areas, and a healthy dose of uncertainty. 

While things may feel unsettled, the good news is that there are clear priorities for B2B marketers to focus on in 2023.

My sense is that marketing has three core responsibilities: to drive revenue, nurture the brand, and optimize the customer experience. While each one delivers business value, B2B marketers are increasingly being asked to prioritize bottom-of-the-funnel growth.

To be a strategic revenue partner in 2023, B2B marketers need to prioritize sales and marketing alignment, increase efficiencies, and scale consistently. 

Priority #1: Sales and Marketing Alignment

One of the key levers to help drive more revenue is to improve sales and marketing alignment. Both teams are involved across the funnel, so it’s critical that they work in lockstep. Marketing and sales are often two of the biggest cost centers for businesses, leading executive teams and boards to seek efficiencies across both departments, rather than just within each.

To maximize the potential impact of marketing and sales alignment, make sure to focus on aligned metrics and goals, a consistent “data-backed view” of your target market, and coordinated go-to-market motions.

Aligned metrics and goals

Marketing and sales are jointly responsible for driving revenue. Understanding how effectively your company creates and converts prospects over time is important and should be tracked for both departments. 

When thinking about revenue, it’s important for sales and marketing to determine the extent to which they want to focus on the first-year value of the deal (Annual Contract Value, or ACV) or the full value of the deal if it’s multi-year (Total Contract Value or TCV).  This will vary depending on your business goals, but it’s important to determine so that your teams are aligned on priorities.

Creating a metric that measures channel efficiency is also key to understanding how well the funnel performs. Here are a few examples:

  • ACV generated per Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
  • ACV generated per Marketing Qualified Account (MQA)
  • ACV generated per demo

It’s also important to evaluate the cost of marketing efforts, plus the cost of your inbound sales team’s efforts to drive revenue based on the channel, customer segment, and associated campaign. Knowing that different types of accounts will likely grow differently over time, companies further in their analytics journey may want to compare these costs to projected Lifetime Value (LTV).

Analyzing these metrics will help determine how efficiently your sales and marketing processes are working with each other.

Consistent data-backed view of your target market

Next, you need to have a clear understanding of your target market and your team’s progress in reaching it. Sales and marketing teams that work with the same data can see which types of accounts and contacts are likely to grow. 

Rather than a static list of accounts or contacts, I’d recommend creating a consistent set of criteria between sales and marketing for the accounts and contacts you want to target. Together, both teams should define a common Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) to develop integrated go-to-market (GTM) motions for real results. 

There are a few types of common data for sales and marketing to align on to define your target market:

  • Who they are. Sometimes referred to as firmographics or descriptive attributes, this data includes company characteristics, such as company size, industry, and growth rate, as well as individual attributes, such as role type or title. You can also combine attributes most relevant to your business (calculated attributes) to provide unique insights. For example, if you want to sell sales automation software, you should compare the size of companies’ overall sales teams and the sizes of their sales operations teams to get a directional sense of their level of standardization and automation.
  • What they use. Frequently called technographics, this data tells you which tools and platforms a company uses and when they might be coming up for renewal. This information can be particularly useful to software companies (either competitors or adjacent technologies) or those providing services on top of those tools and platforms.
  • What they are doing. Most commonly known as intent or behavioral data, this can range from online activity (articles read, keywords searches, research on your products or a competitor), to interactions with your properties and marketing efforts (changes in pageview volume, time on site, type of pages or content reviewed), to non-digital signals such as leadership changes, company events (funding rounds, earnings announcements), to an individual’s speeches and publications. This can inform who the best contact is as well as the best time to reach out to them.
  • How your efforts have performed. In addition to thinking about your targets, you also need to assess how effective you have been at acquiring and growing them. How does your cost to acquire and grow customers vary by the above attributes? Do certain segments convert more efficiently or faster through the funnel? Do certain marketing and sales programs work better with different groups?

Ideally, you want to use a combination of data types to identify your targets — both at a macro level, like which regions, segments, and industries you focus on, and also more specifically on your target lists of accounts and individuals. 

For extra credit, rather than having static target lists, marketing and sales can align on the criteria used to define your targets — but then let real-time data adjust who falls in or out of your lists.

Coordinated GTM motions

While these steps are critical, integrated execution is what brings them to life. This includes both what you say — including messaging and key differentiators — and coordinated engagement across channels to respective companies and contacts. This allows you to maximize impact, as well as avoid duplicative outreach. Leveraging platforms that can both drive this cross-channel engagement and capture its impact will be key.

Priority #2: Reduce Budget Waste

Taking the above steps will get you well on your way to reducing waste, but what more can you do? 

In order to reduce budget waste across all of your campaigns, you need to establish clear priorities to help measure performance at each stage of the marketing funnel. Doing so will help you understand how well companies and individuals are moving through the funnel and where to focus. 

Here’s a quick overview of what to consider at each stage:

  • Top of the funnel: It’s all about the concept of mental availability. You want to increase the propensity for your brand to be noticed and considered in buying situations. We measure this through a version of Share of Voice (SOV), where we see the frequency of our brand being mentioned relative to key topics that we know are relevant to our buyers. These same topics are also an important source of intent signals.
  • Middle of the funnel: Here you want to maximize the number of high-value accounts, and individuals at those accounts, who are engaging with you across channels and across sales and marketing. High-value accounts can be identified through a combination of the topics we mentioned above — who they are, what they use, and what they’re doing. As we all know by now, most companies leverage buying committees to purchase, so you need to engage across key individuals within an account.
  • Bottom of the funnel: This is where the potential revenue really starts to come into play. At this point in the buying journey, the prospect has a challenge that your team can help resolve and they have likely indicated they’re interested in purchasing. Given the current economic realities, you should consider the importance of locking in multi-year deals to minimize churn risk.

Once you’ve defined how success will be measured at each funnel stage, you can then lean into the aligned targeting criteria that you created with your counterparts on the sales side. Ultimately, you are aiming to maximize revenue or annual contract value (ACV), ideally with an eye to multiyear growth or lifetime value (LTV).

Next, it’s time to determine the right message and mix of channels to bring to that audience.

Determine the right message and mix of channels

It’s hard to overstate how much time and money can be wasted by going to market with the wrong set of messages, even if you have done the above steps correctly. I also have found through countless tests that messaging that comes from within the company frequently misses the mark. 

Here are two ways to gather insights from customers themselves in order to help define your messaging:

  • Sales calls: Lean into sales call analysis for insights about common challenges or objectives that your customers are facing. You can also do very specific searches. For example, when the economic downturn started, we listened to calls that mentioned “economy,” “downturn,” and related terms to understand themes. We then incorporated these insights into our messaging.
  • Surveys: Sending out interactive surveys to new and existing customers is a great way to get an idea of what’s on their mind. In doing so, you can create a record of priorities at different points in time, so you can get a better sense of when it might be time to tweak your messaging to be more relevant and effective.

The concepts of mental availability and category entry points are very valuable when it comes to messaging. Understanding what people think about your category can help guide the messaging pillars your team creates.

Test and iterate

The reality of marketing is even our “best” ideas – yes, even the ones that leverage customer insights – don’t always work. By testing and iterating your messaging and overall strategy, you will be able to expand winning ideas and quickly sunset underperforming ideas.

It’s also important to find a testing platform that allows you to fail quickly, so you can find which options won’t work as soon as possible and double down on those that get the job done.

When it comes to reducing overall budget waste, I discourage marketing leaders from doing a flat haircut across their expenses. You’ll likely sacrifice longer-term growth for near-term gains. 

Instead, consider the value of every expense category, including headcount and program dollars for media, events, and contractors. Identify what is and isn’t working. Hyper-focus on the programs that are working and be aggressive about cutting the programs that aren’t — even if it may be uncomfortable. 

You can probably already think of programs that should be reduced. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to stop them, now is the right time.

Priority #3: Scale for Consistency and Impact

With greater urgency for teams to do more with less, 2023 is going to be all about scaling consistently. It’s time to really lean into what is working and stay focused on those efforts. 

Harvard Business Review found that the average employee switches or “toggles” between different applications or web pages 1,200 times a day. Most switches are followed by another in less than 11 seconds, indicating employees spend a huge amount of time navigating between tools, refocusing, and meshing different tech environments together to get their job done. 

One way to maximize efficiency and consistency is to lean into tech stack consolidation. Tech stack consolidation frees up more time and budget to strategically nurture key accounts. Plus, if your sales and marketing teams are using a single platform, you can increase visibility for both teams.

Take a look at all of the platforms and tools that make up your existing tech stack and review the usage metrics for each of those tools. You might be surprised to see that some tools have low usage stats. Low usage means that your business is potentially wasting time and money on individual tools instead of a comprehensive platform. 

Ask your team about their current processes, tools, and platforms. Are there any components of the current tech stack that make it harder to complete tasks in a timely manner? Identifying inefficiencies can make it easier to determine which tools aren’t necessary for your teams to scale consistently.

A consolidated tech stack also makes it easier to launch campaigns, analyze the results of that campaign, pass leads over to the sales team, and see the entire lifecycle of prospects to customers.

Key Takeaways

By prioritizing cross-functional alignment and operational efficiencies, you can demonstrate the value of marketing as a strategic revenue partner. When it comes to the top priorities for marketers in 2023, remember:

  1. Sales and marketing alignment will help identify a clear focus and shared goals for generating revenue.
  2. Take a moment to identify opportunities to reduce any budget waste across your team.
  3. Scale consistently and efficiently by leaning into successful campaigns and consolidating your tech stack.

Now you can detail your team’s efforts and provide clear evidence that marketing is a trusted partner within the entire revenue stream.