The B2B CMO as a change agent for revenue

Moving a marketing organization from being a cost center to a revenue center (Revenue Marketing™) is a daunting task that requires strong leadership and leadership that knows how to drive change. This need for leadership is why I wrote Rise of the Revenue Marketer. The best part of that process was interviewing 24 senior level marketers to get their insight and guidance on the role of leadership in change. For this blog, I’ll share their observations in the context of a 5-Stage Change Model.

Stage 1: Disruption occurs when the marketing status quo is failing. Some tipping point has occurred, typically as a result of company performance, changing market dynamics, competition, new strategies or shareholder influence. During this stage, there may be many obstacles.

The Interviews: As I talked to 24 marketing executives, a correlation between business disruption and Revenue Marketing success became evident. Those companies undergoing significant disruption were more engaged at all levels and moved quicker than those companies who just wanted to do Revenue Marketing because it made sense. We also saw two camps of disruption and they both accelerated Revenue Marketing – bad disruptions, such as loss of revenue, and good disruptions, such as fast growth businesses wanting to maintain the pace. In both cases, the marketing executive stepped in to become the champion of the change.

Ask yourself: What’s going on in your company that the status quo is no longer good enough? Be honest here. As a leader, how can you make your company better?

Stage 2: Resistance to Revenue Marketing rears its ugly head…and retreats when stakeholders understand “What’s In It for Me?” and demonstrate a willingness to evaluate options.

The Interviews: A common interview theme for successful Revenue Marketing was having detailed and continuous communication and collaboration, with a well-defined and jointly developed “What’s in it for me?” for each stakeholder group. When this was missing, both early on and continuously in the process, we saw marketing experiencing issues.

Ask yourself: Do you really understand all the key stakeholders and what this change will mean for them? Do you have the right stakeholders fully involved?

Stage 3: Acceptance is the stage where Revenue Marketing gains momentum, as a clear plan of action is developed. The Revenue Marketing plan defines why change is needed, what will change, how and when it will change, and who is responsible.

The Interviews: I observed from the interviews that this plan of action needed to be communicated and visible throughout the entire life cycle of Revenue Marketing, not just a point in time. When you ask stakeholders to change and work with you, they need a visible representation of where things are, what will be happening next, and what their role is throughout.

Ask yourself: How ready are you to put this kind of plan in place? How will you use your leadership position to communicate and support this plan?

Stage 4: In Adoption, stakeholders move from ’going through the motions’ to personally realizing the value of the change. This creates synergy among all key stakeholders to embrace and optimize Revenue Marketing.

The Interviews: A common indicator of adoption of Revenue Marketing across organizations was the use of a Revenue Marketing language in which all stakeholders have learned the language and use it everyday.

Ask yourself: What is the common language in your organization? When you attend a senior management team meeting, does the entire leadership team understand and use the language of Revenue Marketing? Have you created this language?

Stage 5: Advocacy is born when Revenue Marketing becomes the new status quo. Marketing has a defined role on the revenue team and the company has a new way to drive, measure and forecast top line revenue growth.

The Interviews: This characteristic was found in companies in which marketing was a full-fledged member of the revenue conversation and marketing came to meetings with a revenue marketing forecast. These companies also structured variable compensation plans for marketing to tie to revenue-related goals, such as % or $ contribution to the pipeline or bookings as a direct result of marketing efforts.

Ask yourself: What is the real value of having marketing focused and accountable for revenue? As a leader, this is your charge. Yes, there are a thousand and one things you must address as a marketing leader, especially if you are involved in transforming your marketing group from a cost center to a revenue center. But your number one job in this transformation is not to be the technology expert, not to be the campaign expert, or other such things. Your number one job is to be the leader for change and to secure and keep buy-in, alignment and collaboration. Good luck!

The first 10 people who email me ( and tell me one thing you learned from this blog, I’ll send you a complimentary e-book version of Rise of the Revenue Marketer.

A/B Testing Guide

A/B Testing Visual Guide

A/B testing is a simple way to optimize campaign performance. Download our visual guide to better understand what A/B testing is, why you should use it, and how you should use it.

About Debbie Qaqish
Debbie is a nationally recognized thought leader, innovator and speaker in Revenue Marketing with more than 30 years of experience applying strategy, technology and process to help B2B companies drive revenue growth. She is the author of the award winning book – “Rise of the Revenue Marketer,” Chancellor of Revenue Marketing University, and host of Revenue Marketer Radio (WRMR). Debbie has been at the forefront of the marketing automation phenomenon, first as a beneficiary, and now as an advocate and expert. She is a frequent speaker and writer on topics related to Revenue Marketing transformation, leadership, change management, sales and marketing alignment, ROI, content, organization, talent and marketing operations. She coined the term “Revenue Marketer” in 2011. As a principal partner and chief strategy officer of The Pedowitz Group, Debbie is responsible for developing and managing global client relationships, as well as leading the firm’s thought leadership initiatives. Debbie is also PhD candidate and her dissertation topic is how the CMO adopts financial accountability in an e-marketing environment.

Related Resources

  • Posted by Debbie Qaqish
  • On 06/22/2015
Tags: revenue marketing, disruption, resistance, acceptance, adoption, advocacy, b2b, business to business, change model

Leave Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *