Role of the CMO as Change Agent

April 11, 2013

Debbie Qaqish is principal partner and chief strategy officer for The Pedowitz Group. In 2007 she coined the term ‘revenue marketer.’ She has spent the past three years working on a book that tracks the journey undertaken by 23 marketers who have moved their organizations toward a revenue-marketing model. The shift requires not only the deployment of marketing automation technology, but also an overhaul of the processes and culture that guide each organization. Qaqish offered Buzz a preview of Rise of the Revenue Marketer,which will be published in August.

BMA Buzz: What is the driving the shift from traditional to revenue marketer?

Debbie Qaqish: A confluence of factors. First, buy behavior has changed radically. Where once sales was involved from the very beginning of a client’s buying process, now clients go online to get the information they need. They no longer need sales early in the process, and sales is not aware of their interest until the client is upwards of 70% through the buying process. This disintermediation between the client and sales has created a gap that can now be filled by revenue marketing. Second, of course, is the change in technology. The rise of the Internet has fueled the disintermediation and new marketing automation systems provide marketers with the tools they need for digital engagement. The final factor has been an overall dissatisfaction with predictable revenue growth. As the economy worsened and sales fell, executives became more open to explore new ways to drive revenue.

The revenue marketing journey has four phases. An estimated 9,000 companies operate on a demand-generation model, Qaqish says. “Only about 300 companies are real revenue marketers. It’s an emerging field.”

BMA Buzz: How does the role of the CMO evolve as companies move toward a revenue-marketing model—and how does the overall structure of the marketing organization need to change?

Qaqish: The CMO is still pretty oblivious to revenue marketing. It’s typically a VP reporting to the CMO who is the visionary driving the change around revenue marketing. The structure of marketing can change radically in that new skills and competencies are required to begin the journey. An entire re-organization of marketing to optimize revenue marketing typically comes at a later stage.

BMA Buzz: How can CMOs best position themselves to lead the change?

Qaqish: They need executive advocacy on a three-year plan to transform the role that marketing plays in driving revenue performance in a company. Once the executive team has the vision and an operational plan, then the CMO is concerned with strategy, people, process, technology, content and results.

BMA Buzz: Your book will focus on the stories of 23 marketing executives. What are some of the key through-lines or best practices that emerge from their experiences?

Qaqish: There were so many. Alignment with sales is critical to revenue marketing success, and it has to be actionable and ongoing. Companies in which marketing is tied to some type of disruption in the business moved through the journey much faster than those who were not tied to disruption. Finally, the tools used by revenue marketers are not being optimized. For example, one of the interviewees created a set of predictive models for funnel conversions and for online behavior leading to a new lead scoring system. All marketers can do this, but few are at this level of sophistication.


"Role of the CMO as Change Agent." BMA Buzz. 4/11/13.