Pitch Perfect: Selling to the Chief Marketing Officer

They delete your emails. They decline your invitations. They cut your calls short. So, what does it really take to sell to the Chief Marketing Officer?

We wanted to know just like you do, so we went straight to the source: a CMO. We asked Jill Konrath, best-selling author and speaker on the subject of understanding the customer, to ask a CMO some hard-ball questions about actual customers who buy products and services. Let’s get into it!

Selling to Marketing: A Candid Interview with Jill Konrath and Heidi Bullock, CMO of Engagio

Jill began this task by talking to Heidi Bullock, Chief Marketing Officer at Engagio, formerly GVP of Global Marketing for Marketo.

Engagio is a B2B SaaS software company focused on helping marketers and salespeople drive the best business value for their company. Bullock is a “lead by example” CMO. With the martech mandate of personalization, engagement, and automation, we think Bullock’s pain points represent a lot of marketing decision-makers out there.

So here’s what CMOs really want – and what they want salespeople to know.

The first thing Bullock emphasizes is that today’s marketers aren’t just focused on customer acquisition. They’re increasingly involved at all stages of the customer journey.

CMOs share responsibility for sales revenue goals.

“I actually own a number,” Bullock says. “I’m compensated similarly to a salesperson. I believe in that. I think it just makes it more real. You will never, ever hear me say, ‘Hey that event was fantastic, our job is done.’

“There are times that we’ve hit our pipeline goal – but unless we hit our revenue goal too, I’m not happy. It’s shared between marketing, sales to ensure that we’re ultimately hitting that high-level revenue goal. I am always thinking about revenue. Always.”

Pro Tip: Use the terminology of sales prospecting – like building pipeline, meeting revenue goals – when prospecting to the CMO. It’s OK to talk about big-picture strategy and long-term goals. It’s just one more way of showing that you’re forward-thinking and you really understand their pain points.

Marketers are focused on retention as well as acquisition.

You’ve probably heard the saying “marketing is the steward of the customer journey.” Here’s Bullock’s take:

“We think about the customer, beginning to end. But in a lot of cases, we don’t always set up the business for success. We might think a lot about acquisition – you see marketers who think, ‘Great, we brought in all these accounts!’ … But if those accounts churn, or if they’re not ideal for your business, that’s a problem.

So we have to think about the entire process, not just acquisition. Satisfying and keeping customers is harder than acquiring new ones.” Bullock equates marketing to being married. “Let’s face it: It’s more work after you’re married, right?”

What are the goals of a CMO? How are they measured?

“Our goals are very, very clear. On a company-wide level, we determine three kinds of casings to focus on, and that’s where we spend our time for the year. My marketing team has ‘mini goals’ that roll up to that.”

Pro Tip: Look for opportunity data – “favorable conditions” that include company events, earnings, funding events, C-suite moves – to identify the long-term goals of a company. A CMO’s high-level goals will be directly related to these conditions.

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What tech are marketers using?

“I really like to look at solutions that can save us time and ultimately really give us an advantage,” Bullock says. “I’m a big fan of using data that can give my sales team an added boost.”

CMOs are interested in any technology that saves time, surfaces an insight they don’t already have, or helps the sales team do something better or more efficiently.

“At the end of the day, anything that helps the sales team get to better deals, shorten the sales cycle – anything to give them an edge – is something most CMOs are highly interested in.”

1. Intent Data

“Engagio is doing a lot around intent data. I love it. But a small team like ours has to ask ourselves some hard questions before we adopt anything.”

2. Predictive Customer Insights

“Another area I get excited about is anything that gives you a better view of your customer data. I find that very interesting! For example, if we use tools that help us understand our product usage, my marketing team can trigger plays off that insight.”

3. Increased Efficiency

Because marketing teams are increasingly sharing goals with the sales team, the CMO is likely interested in anything that can help the sales team work faster. For Bullock, “It’s got to be something that is going to save me time, surface an insight that I don’t currently have, or help my sales team do something better and more efficiently.”

When Your Sales Lead is the CMO, What’s a Good Sales Pitch?

“I find the best salespeople help identify my pain points,” Bullock says, “sometimes when I’m not even aware that I have them.”

Show how your product has solved similar problems for other marketers.

Skilled salespeople say: “Look, I’m talking to some other marketing teams all the time, and they also struggled with X. They’ve implemented this solution, and now things are much easier for that team. I can do the same for you.”

“What I don’t like,” Bullock says, “is when salespeople ask, ‘Do you have time this week to meet?’ You know the answer to that: I don’t. I feel like I can barely go to the bathroom, let alone go to a random meeting!

“So really highlight the pain points you’re seeing. Or maybe there’s something your prospect isn’t aware of. Maybe they’ve been using a particular process and that’s not giving the same returns that it used to; they might be open to this new way of doing things.”

Good sales people know how to highlight those problems and solutions, and how to do so with a sense of urgency.

Pro Tip: No one has time for your meetings – but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get in the door. Start by identifying a problem, show how your solution has solved it … and if you’ve done your job well, a meeting will follow.

Where do CMOs look for information on new products and services?

1. Peer Reviews

Bullock evaluates products by talking to peers, for one reason in particularly: they’re more genuine than salespeople.

“I am very honest with peers, when they ask me. I will always share what I’ve experienced, what I see. So, I talk to colleagues because I feel like it’s unbiased and they’re just gonna be truthful, which I appreciate.”

2. Content, events, and webinars

“I read a lot. Events are big (and I’d lump webinars into that). There are some really good events where you can see how other companies are leveraging technology in unique ways. Because I’m in Martech, people reach out to me every day – so I’m pretty aware of the technology that’s out there.”

3. Analysts

“We work a lot TOPO and firms like Serious Decisions, Gartner…” Bullock says. “Their insight is immensely helpful. They’re talking to so many different companies, they hear all kinds of ideas about other people solving problems. That helps me a lot, too.”

4. Networking communities

“I belong to a few good Slack groups or other community groups, where you can always pose a question. For example, one topic that comes up a lot is how to hire the right team for the size you are. That’s a big discussion, so it’s a good idea to see what others are doing.

“I can pose questions on LinkedIn, and people give pretty honest, real-time answers. There’s no reason not to. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Just see what somebody else has done. It’ll save you time.”

Pro Tip: Find your prospects’ favorite online hang-out: Are they asking or answering questions? Do they reference newsletters or a source of information during a podcast? Wherever they are – you should have a presence.

This will alert you to pain points early in the sales cycle, cues and keywords they’re focused on – and a chance to provide relevant information, and shape the conversation early-on. (After all, the first salesperson in the door wins the business, 70% of the time!)

So, how can a salesperson get a CMO’s attention?

Video is in. Attachments? Out.

“The best salespeople I’ve worked with,” Bullock says, “have a good sense of my day-to-day and the challenges that I face – and they surface these challenges right away. It might be in the form of an email, but I’ve had people do some really clever videos or even send me direct tweets.”

To learn more about how ZoomInfo can dramatically scale and improve all aspects of your go-to-market strategy, contact our sales team today. We offer the most intelligent B2B contact database on the market.